My timing was perfect as I walked into the venue about 10 minutes before the band took the stage. I would have loved to see opener and St. Louis punk stalwarts Ultraman play, but my hangover from the Silver Jews show was working overtime to make sure I was running behind Saturday night. I had time to make it to the bar and make it through one beer, though, before the band took the stage. The crowd went crazy when the house lights went down and the video that would projected onto a white bedsheet for the length of the show was fired up. The band took the stage and immediately tore out of the gate with a great one-two punch of "Roots Radical" and "Journey to the End of the East Bay". It was hard not to get caught up in the energy of the band and the crowd; the band encouraged dancing on several occasions and the crowd always obliged. The band relied heavily on material from their first three records, and the crowd appreciated this fact. There were at least seventeen times as many mohawks at this show as there had been at the Silver Jews show the night before (mohawk count: 1, the owner of which I knew), and wasn't even counting trendy faux-hawks.
I get caught up in "indie rock" and tiny little obscure bands that write great pop hooks, but I forget how much fun I can have at a show like this. This show truly made me happy - be it the adrenaline or the nostalgia. I got into music through punk rock (like many kids) at the time of Nirvana and when Green Day made it big. ...And Out Come The Wolves is, to this day, one of my favorite all-time albums. I can listen to it from beginning to end, without ever wanting to skip a track. The '92-'95 time frame was a great time for my musical development. Not only was I getting in to contemporary bands like Rancid, NOFX, and Hagfish, but I was discovering classic bands like the Descendents, Circle Jerks, Misfits, and, yes, Operation Ivy. I haven't followed past Rancid setlists or read any reviews of their shows on this tour, so I was completely surprised and excited when they busted into the Operation Ivy classic "Knowledge" right before the encore, causing the crowd to erupt into a collective ecstatic seizure.
The band came back from a quick break to play acoustic versions of Op Ivy's "Sound System" and the recent Rancid "hit," "Fall Back Down." It was nice and interesting, but I'll be damned if I didn't want "Sound System" to thrash my face and "Fall Back Down" to kick me in the Jimmy, so their acoustic versions were slightly bittersweet. They were good, but you wanted them to be... better. All in all, it was an incredible show, and I know I will make a concerted effort to see them the next chance I get. My only complaint was that the show was a mere 75 minutes long.
Here are some pictures and a short video of "Ruby Soho":