By Aaron Vlasnik
Photos by Mitch West
Aug. 16, 2021
It’s safe to say that the week of August 8 marked the official beginning of live music in Lincoln. Not only that, but all of the major events took place outside, and you could not have asked for a better week of weather for the concerts. Starting off with Willie Nelson and The Avett Brothers on the 10th live in Pioneers Park. Add to that ZooFest closing off 14th street for a number of fantastic acts on the 12th and 13th. Then finally, Garth Brooks filling Memorial Stadium up with 91,000 people on Saturday the 14th. It was a week packed with great music and even better weather.
But sneaking in on Friday might have been the least talked about concert happening that week. And while it may have been drowned out by all the other events going on around town that week, certainly wasn’t the quietest. In fact, it was probably the loudest.
Punk rock legends Rancid and Dropkick Murphys brought their “Boston To Berkeley II” tour through Lincoln on Friday night. Hopping up to Nebraska between shows in Kansas City and Wichita, the 2 bands brought Los Angeles punk rockers The Bronx with them as the opening act. The tour was initially going to happen in 2020, with a local stop in Council Bluffs, IA, but when the tour was cancelled, it rescheduled for 2021 with Lincoln as the local stop instead.
With their new album, “Bronx VI,” coming out at the end of the month, The Bronx got the night started with a heavy dose of loud guitars and screaming vocals. It was turned up and the crowd loved it. For many it was the first live concert in over a year. The Bronx set the night up right for a crowd ready to hear some live music.
Berkeley, CA’s legendary band, Rancid, came on next. Tim Armstrong, Lar Frederiksen and co came out with Toots and The Maytals’ “54-46” before starting their set with their song “Radio.” I was into it, as were the 3,000 other people in attendance. But it wasn’t until their second song, “Roots Radicals” that it really hit me that I’m catching live music again on a gorgeous Friday evening in Lincoln. It finally dawned on me that I really missed concerts and the feeling I get from them, and I have Rancid and “Roots Radicals” for bringing that feeling back.
I was hooked. I was dancing, singing along, and having a great time. It was exactly what I needed, and I knew I wasn’t alone in this feeling that night. The crowd was enjoying themselves: from the casual listener that only knew their biggest hits “Ruby Soho” and “Timebomb,” to the veteran punks that had liberty spikes more than 2 feet tall. Everyone was just enjoying the evening. This was Rancid’s first visit to Lincoln in their 30 years as a band. They definitely made up for lost time.
Once Rancid wrapped up, the crowd was ready for more, and Boston’s Dropkick Murphys kept the party going. With their Celtic Punk Rock style, the 6-piece band just released a new album, “Turn Up The Dial” and brought a number of new songs from that album with them.
The show was full of sing-a-longs like their opener “The Boys Are Back,” which was a very fitting opener for any concert in 2021. Their dual-lead-singer attack had band members running all around the stage and energizing the audience. They played a number of new songs like “L-EE-B-O-Y” and “Good As Gold” as well as some staples like “Rose Tattoo” and “The State of Massachusetts.” During their encore, they brought out Tim Armstrong and Lars Frederiksen to play one of the band’s very first songs, “Barroom Hero”, which was released on Tim Armstrong’s own label, Hellcat Records. Of course, the night could not have ended without Dropkick Murphys most popular song, “Shipping Up to Boston,” which ended the night on a high note. The 3,000 in attendance were singing along and you couldn’t have asked for a better closer for such a fantastic evening.
Aaron Vlasnik is host of Alt Night Long, Tuesdays 9-11 p.m. Mitch West is a photography contributor.