I looked up and some blond in a little econo-box pulled up at the stop sign had caught sight of my PRESS badge as I made my way through the heat to La Zona Rosa.
"No darling - I don't have the legs for it". I pointed down to the scarred up pale pegs providing my propulsion as she chuckled and drove off up the street, stopping to banter, barter and haggle with the scalpers in the next block.
It was another sold out show, another day of oppressive heat, and another band from my past in another Direct Events venue. As I headed through the entry gate and had my ticket scanned Jeff and the guys running the door security offered me a sandwich from a tray they had scammed from the Jimmy John's sandwich guys. I had run out the door without dinner so I greedily accepted and wolfed down one of the bready morsels.
Ill Spent Youth at La Zona Rosa - more photos photo by Jeff Barringer - Staff Photographer
I had last seen Rancid back in 2006 at Emo's when I was able to talk my way into their sold out set. Unable to get close to the stage, and with Emo's infamous Budweiser sign providing what appeared to be the only stage lights I had always been disappointed with my shots that night and had hoped for the chance to upgrade them.
I made it into the pit just after the first band on the bill, Austin's Ill Spent Youth, launched into their first song. Short 3 minute numbers had me back out of the pit quickly, but the band didn't move around much so I had the opportunity to take plenty of pictures before getting the boot.
Ill Spent Youth sounded pretty good but I think that by focusing on the sound of their performance too much, their stage show, or what there was of it, suffered. There was little audience interaction, the band just kind of stood there and played. That is unfortunate because the genre that they have chosen, old school punk, demands more interaction and interplay with the audience and with the other members of the band. It requires excitement and energy and buzz. Their frontman should have come out and taken the audience by the throat, but instead the band seemed a little dazed by the crowd and the lights. Additionally for the most part they didn't seem to really "dress" for the occasion either, looking more like they all just came from work rather than playing in a punk rock band opening for an act as big as Rancid.
Lower Class Brats at La Zona Rosa - more photos photo by Jeff Barringer - Staff Photographer
The next band, another Austin band, was the Lower Class Brats and these guys had all the first band lacked in spades. First of all they just look like punks. Frontman Bones DeLarge has that classic punk "I need a sandwich like last week" rail thinness combined with a shock of blond hair and a snear and snarl that would do Johnny Rotten proud. Bassist EVO has that "I just kicked Henry Rollins ass" look to him and on lead Marty Volume, equiped with a flying V just smokes with his runs up and down the fret board and is aptly named. Drummer Joey the kid's 12 inch spiked mohawk just ices the cake. These guys came prepared to pull out all the stops and - no surprise - they did.
They look like rock stars, they played like rock stars and they worked the audience like rock stars. Their stage show has been honed to a razor perfection and I don't know how they can improve on what they have. This is another great Austin band that deserves to break nationally and I hope they do. They are also my nephew Blake's favorite local band and that says a lot. The Brats are touring the East Coast this month and next. Check out the tour schedule at their myspace myspace.com/lowerclassbratsrule
Jay West, from InSite magazine showed up a the end of their set, fresh from Loretta Lynn's show over at Stubb's. He showed me a few of his pics as we headed up to push our way into the pit.
Rancid hit the stage and immediately the pit was inundated with crowd surfers, overwhelming the pit security and crashing into the photographers. It was all I could do to keep the lens pointed in the direction of the stage as I tried to keep one eye over my shoulder looking for the inevitable steel toed boots to come flying over the barrier, owner still attached. Pelted by water, beer, and crowd surfers, the pit felt like a war zone and I tried to set my shots as best I could. Tim Armstrong, seeing me in the pit, came up and played to my camera but unfortunately he came inside my focus range before the focus locked in so it went for naught. Lars, hair shorn short instead of his usual mohawk, stayed fairly planted in place while Armstrong whirled about like a dervish, a bruised and battered old Gretsch in hand as he flew about.
This was very much a SOP Rancid show - loud, fast, feet in the air. Rancid played for about an hour and twenty minutes to a very appreciative sold out crowd. Click here to see the set list.
"Additionally for the most part they didn't seem to really "dress" for the occasion either..."
"First of all they just look like punks."
"They look like rock stars, ..."
how...incredibly UNpunk to care so much about what people on stage were wearing. Or that their stage show suffered because they were too focused on the quality of their performance. being in a punk band does not always necessitate being ego maniacal and untalented.