Typically when punk bands come through Chicago they are booked to perform a club show, but when Rancid and Dropkick Murphys stopped by the Windy City on the From Boston to Berkeley Tour they unleashed their raw rock sounds in the open air setting of the Huntington Bank Pavilion at Northerly Island. The Aug. 8 co-headlining concert found fans enjoying lakefront breezes and skyline views while they sang their guts out and made new friends in an endless string of circle pits.
The Celtic songs of Dropkick Murphys naturally lend themselves to mass sing-alongs and their set opener “The Lonesome Boatman” had fans across the venue absolutely howling in a collective chorus of oohs and aahs. Frontman Al Barr spent more time in the crowd than he did on stage belting out the rallying cries of “The Boys are Back” and “The Gang’s All Here.” “Chicago is our second favorite city in the country,” announced bassist, Ken Casey, early in the show before Barr encourage fans to open up the crowd inspiring a human cyclone of a circle pit to accompany the relentless The Meanest of Times track, “Johnny, I Hardly Knew Ya.”
The hits were in full supply throughout the night as were new tracks from Dropkick Murphys’ 2017 release, 11 Short Stories of Pain & Glory. Like their tour-mates, Rancid also dropped a new album this year – entitled Trouble Maker. While fan favorites like “Time Bomb,” “Fall Back Down” and “Salvation” had old and new Rancid devotees reciting every lyric, “Buddy” – which Lars Frederiksen referred to as his favorite off the new record – proved to be an anthem for the modern age.
Tim Armstrong – with his road worn guitar and Grizzly Adams beard – kept the energy turned up to 11 during Rancid’s ferocious set. From the first notes of the opener, “Radio,” until the closing skanked up dance party that emerged during their closer, “Ruby Soho,” his high-flying jumps and fierce spirit motivated moshing, crowd-surfing and an endless sea of smiles across the venue.
Earlier in the night, the Bouncing Souls encouraged “love, kindness and respect for all of humanity” with a setlist that included “Writing on the Wall,” “That Song” and “The Ballad of Johnny X.” Stiff Little Fingers frontman, Jake Burns, used his show opening set as an opportunity to share stories – including a tale about the time he got an in-studio phone call from Pete Townshend – and treat fans to acoustic renditions of “Drinkin’ Again,” “Nobody’s Here” and more.
Dropkick Murphys and Rancid will continue to make stops across the U.S. on the From Boston To Berkeley Tour until it concludes in Los Angeles on Aug. 26. Check out photos from the Chicago show below and head over to www.rancidrancid.com or www.dropkickmurphys.com to pick-up tickets to an upcoming performance.
(Photos by Laurie Fanelli)