October 22, 2021 | Festival Review by Fatima Kelley
With a little over a year of long waiting, the Boston to Berkeley II finally hit San Diego, packing up Gallagher’s square at Petco Park.
The long wait and anticipation of the crowd was well worth the wait as Los Angeles based The Bronx hit the stage at 6pm starting the evening off in full throttle.
They delivered a gritty , raw and powerful set that got the crowd going right away. It was as if everyone just needed to unleash all they held inside during the past year and a half of concert deprivation.
East bay legends Rancid took stage next and they met with overwhelming enthusiasm from the crowd. They opened their set in full force with powerhouse hit “Maxwell Murders” that got everyone moving in the crowd as well as in the pit. The high energy level continued to rise as the band delivered a stellar set that stole the crowd completely, testament to an amazing 30 year career.
“Roots radicals” was next and the chemistry on stage spilled over the crowd, and got everyone moving from fans which seemed united despite the generation gaps, to stage personnel’s to security guards to us photographers.
Rancid had always been amazing live but there was something more this time, they looked all so at ease on stage just so at home with the crowd, it was probably the best performance of theirs I have witnessed so far although they are one of those rare bands that just gets better with age it seems, so i am looking forward to the next one for sure!
Matt Freeman’s bass lines are impossible to resist, Branden’s Steineckert’s beats are skull crushing and capable of beating out any resistance, Lars’ guitar riffs are the perfect balance of gritty and sexy and Tim Armstrong is just simply put, a front-man like no other.
Other highlights of their set for me were Olympia WA , Telegraph Avenue, one of my favorites tunes off their album “Trouble Maker” which always mentally takes me back home. Salvation which was met by crowd vocals nearly as loud as the band’s.
Crowd Surfers came to life during Old Friend, and pretty much didn’t ease up until the very end. The band closed their set in full classic mode with Time Bomb and Ruby Soho.
After a swift set changeover Dropkick Murphys took stage and fans fists went up and fans roared. There is something magical about the crowd response to the Dropkick Murphys, it is as if the band is part of its own audience in a way, they are capable of somehow thinning the lines between performer and spectator thus delivering a set that feels like an intimate affair.
The audience singalongs to each and every tune proves that there is in fact no other band like them. The articulate shrill sounds of the bagpipes, the scratchy raspy vocals, the snappy banjo sounds, the haunting celtic vibes counterbalanced by the pounding drums, rocking riffs and pure punk energy have yet again proven to be a winner combo and the band lit up the night.
Some highlights for me were of course “ The State of Massachusetts”, “Johnny I hardly knew ya” which always get the feet going. “Middle Finger” off their latest release which was met with full cheers and shouts from everyone in the crowd and of course ‘Rose tattoo” which erupted into a full audience vocal takeover.
I loved watching the band express their gratitude to the recurring fans and their appreciation for the younger generation of fans. It was super cool to see Ken Casey hand out copies of their later vinyl “ Turn Up The Dial” to young fans . It was also pretty special to witness the audience wish Alexander Barr’s son a very happy birthday, as per the singer’s request ,making the night even more special.
All I can say is that after a year and a half of distant televised musical performance and zoom pseudo/live experiences, tonight served as a reaffirmation that nothing is more healing to the soul than the rumbles of a stomping crowd of happy fans and that music is indeed best served LIVE!