Voodoo Glow Skulls, Knock-Out
House of Blues, Orlando, Fl • June 20, 2008
There was a time when the notion of a true punk rock band playing a venue on Disney property was unheard of from both sides. The punks wouldn’t want to be associated with the patriarchal Mouse, and Disney was too family-oriented to ever allow such debauchery in its midst. For better or worse, times have changed. It’s 2008, and Rancid is headlining House of Blues at Downtown Disney in Orlando, with Voodoo Glow Skulls supporting.
Easing the sold-out crowd into the ska-soaked groove was southern California’s Knock-Out. The trio, whose sound compares to Authority Zero or Less Than Jake, has found its way onto Voodoo Glow Skulls’ brand new Empire Music label and seem to be in awe of the company they’re keeping on this tour. Many thanks were extended to both VGS and Rancid throughout the set. Even Whole Wheat Bread was thanked — and they weren’t even playing on this date of the tour, though they were watching the show from the side of the stage.
A circle pit opened up early, as the audience warmed themselves for the nonstop pile-up that would greet Rancid’s appearance. Voodoo Glow Skulls has been dishing out some of the best ska punk on record since 1988. That’s twenty years worth of a fan base, so Rancid’s audience was also largely a VGS audience, and the excitement was fierce for the veterans of their genre.
Skanking around the stage wearing a Mexican wrestling mask for the opening song, vocalist Frank Casillas straddled the line between creepy and comical. After shedding the costume. the band served up two of their most loved songs, “Shoot the Moon” followed by “Charlie Brown,” for an enthusiastic crowd reaction.
At the end of their set, a kid and a dancing mascot wearing an oversized green voodoo skull mask stormed the stage. Once more it was borderline between comical and just plain weird, like Sesame Street on crack.
Prior to this show, I had never seen Rancid. I know, it’s crazy — how could this be?! I’d seen Tim Armstrong’s mediocre side project The Transplants a few years back, but Rancid had somehow eluded me. It was time to put an end to such blinding oversight in my concert attending history.
Kicking off their generous set with 2003’s “Fall Back Down,” the band played the soundtrack to 2,000 fans going ape shit. “Roots Radicals” (a personal favorite) followed on its heels, and a set full of songs dating way back to 1987 followed. Bodies toppled atop heads, tumbling toward the stage only to be systematically ushered down and out by the security guards who lined the stage.
Ah, what it must have been like to see Rancid in the small clubs when there were no guards to keep the chaos at bay!
Armstrong and Lars Frederiksen share both guitar and lead vocal duties and neither have to do much in order to excite the already adoring crowd, but when either one plants his feet firmly on the stage’s edge to grind out a riff, the levels of excitement rise.
The highlight of the band’s set was the Operation Ivy cover (can you call it a cover when half of the band’s members are present on stage?), “Knowledge.”
To see more photos of this show, and others, go to www.jencray.com.