Review: 2017.07.31 From Boston to Berkeley tour- Sterling Heights, MI
Jake Burns, The Bouncing Souls, Rancid and Dropkick Murphys
Jake Burns opened the show with a beautiful acoustic set. He seems really emotionally charged while on stage, and he’s a good storyteller. He opened with “Gotta Getaway” and transitioned into a story about meeting Pete Townsend of The Who via the telephone in a recording booth in England. (Jake in booth, phone rings. “hello?” “I’m looking for Still Little Fingers, this is Pete Townsend from The Who” “Yeah sure, and I’m the fuckin Pope…” Pete apparently took it hard and “needless to say, [SLF] didn’t get the tour spot” Big baby. Jake played a few more tunes, moved into something from his solo album, Drinkin’ Again, which was everything I hope for in an Irish drinking song. He talks about how drinking here is just drinking, and then you’re drunk. But in Ireland, drinking is all a part of the Irish history and culture! He also shed some light about his depression. He stressed the importance of talking about it, because people care to listen, and it will help you not feel so isolated, so afraid, so hidden. Very strong words that went into his song “My Dark Places” and even from the lawn seats you could feel his words wrap around like a hug from a friend. Mr. Burns then finished his set off with a rousing “Wasted Life” and a history of the Belfast Civil War. He remembers being told back then “If this is a Civil War, I’d hate to see an uncivil one.” Truer words, Jake. Truer words.
The Bouncing Souls piled on next. Sadly, I don’t think many of the people here knew how rad the Bouncing Souls are. Most people were just standing around bobbing their heads like a doggie on a dashboard. What’s wrong with you people? They started with “The Something Special” and my little heart screamed the lyrics right out of my mouth. I was the only one dancing for a song or two, but it caught on. “East Coast! Fuck you!” was everything I had dreamed of in my 16 year gap since seeing them last, despite being from the Midwest! It brought back every memory, near and far- of driving, learning to skateboard- true love typed things for me. They ended on “True Believers” and I tell ya, I could have gone another set! I can understand from this specific night why people in the crowd said they were mellow. The music wasn’t mellow at all, but the people were statues down there. The band was lighting the stage on proverbial fire with how great they were, and being one of my boo’s favorite bands, I was super stoked just to be there for his sake, let alone my own. To The Bouncing Souls- You’re perfect, boys. Please visit often. If I have to single handedly fill the pit with movers and shakers, I will. You deserved more from Detroit Rock City.
Rancid was much anticipated. I have never seen them live before, but we go way back. They opened with “Radio”, which was a good start. I really enjoyed the mix of albums integrated into their set. “Roots Radical” was what really got the pit moving- finally. It was probably the T-Rex again, honestly. Tim sang his voice out, sounding every bit as gravelly as on recording. The crowd interaction was fun for us. Tim told a story that I am SCOLDING myself for not recording for you, dear readers, about how 25 years ago they played a smaller show in Detroit and prior to they weren’t sure how the band would go over here in our little Mecca. The show went well and we loved them (because we have good music sense mostly) and Rancid left saying that Detroit really understood them. I think they understood us a little more, too. That story lead into the appropriately chosen “Salvation” where even people who didn’t know the words could catch on to the woahs. A lot of the show was similar to listening to the records, though, minus a few off key notes from screaming (which are my favorite) and a few high notes not being met or ignored all together. But Matt Freeman- every inch of his playing was on point. Maxwell Murder was actually better live than in recording, which is something to say that that’s one of my favorite recorded tracks! Then bring in Olympia, WA and it becomes the biggest sing along I’ve seen since Backstreet Boys concerts. Fall Back Down is always going to be a crowd pleaser. Always. And it was the best of times! I like that Tim and Lars dedicated Time Bomb to the touring bands because every single one of them is a time capsule. “Ruby Soho” finished the set and by then I don’t think a single person was sitting down. Except maybe the T-Rex. He came a long way for this show.
Dropkick Murphys opened in a literary epic way. Not teen slang epic that has no meaning, but full on Gilgamesh, Sirens in the cave to Odysseus epic. If I could have entrance music when I walked into a room or sporting endeavor that would probably be it. Or it would “Shipping Up to Boston”, but more on that later. “The Boys Are Back” began and everyone was cheering. Ken Casey’s voice is just as scorched as you’d think. Heavenly sound to this Irish mná. I really wish I had pavilion tickets so I could run in a circle and flail around to the beat and call it dancing. I did what I could on the hill without falling. Their records are so impactful to me, filled with so much love and family ties (Hogans of Cork, holla) just so much to be in love with that to hear them live AND have it be better in person made me a believer in all things magical. “Johnny I Hardly Knew Ya” was a great jam. Even the T-Rex was back in the pit! “Blood” had a great lyrical background on the screen. Footage from past shows too. It was really done well, and whomever it was that built this stage show for them complete with lights and background is a genius. “First Class Loser” surprised us all with a projection of number 45 during the chorus of “He’s a first class loser; he’s not my type of guy.” Hilarious! “Rose Tattoo” was neat with the projections again, looked like mostly snippets of their music video from 2013. Very cool, guys. “Going Out in Style” was the biggest sing along since Rancid’s “Olympia”! This band really knows how to get everyone going. Every person in the crowd was singing and dancing along like we were all in a really really big pub in Ireland. It was the most fun of the night. And then my heart soared because the opening to “I’m Shipping Up to Boston” began and I swear to you, readers, that I became that little girl at Lester’s Possum Park from A Goofy Movie who was just clapping and smiling along so big to everyone around her. The sheer joy of it! Hordes of fans were welcomed on stage for the last bit of songs. Whether they were asked on stage at first or just some crowd surfing gone right, the stage became packed with fans dancing and taking photos. Once again, the projection on screen was quick to nail down some kids: “Only a jackass takes selfies on stage” was up for all to see. Har.
Tim Armstrong came back out for the encore acoustically and began “Folsom Prison” that just exploded into the full band. I mean, you knew it was coming because throughout Tim singing the band members were walking back on stage and grabbing instruments, but the sheer power of it was completely unfathomable. A sound explosion. “Cretin Bop” came about and became a lot more musically chaotic than the ever boring Ramones. Not sorry. If there was ever to be a song recorded for charity like the Claddagh Fund then it should be considered to have the full bands come together to record this and their follow up and final song “If the Kids Are United” by Sham 69. The Claddagh Fund winning lottery ticket was drawn by a Marine spending his final day of active duty with us at the show (whose name I redacted for privacy) after 21 years. He stayed on stage for this final song, as it was dedicated to him and his service. Very nice thing to do! This tour should, please, come every year, at least. It was such a great lineup, a great night, and for good causes.
For more info on the bands and foundations:
Stiff Little Fingers: https://www.slf.rocks/
The Bouncing Souls: Bouncingsouls.com
Dropkick Murphys: www.dropkickmurphys.com/
Claddagh Fund: https://www.claddaghfund.org/
Musack Foundation: https://www.musack.org/