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Boston to Berkeley Tour Returns For A Sequel

The first Boston to Berkeley Tour took place in 2017. Five years ago everyone was in amazement that these two punk rock powerhouses came together to tour. On that one, it was with the legendary The Selector and Kevin Seconds for the Phoenix stop. Flash forward to this past Tuesday and both Dropkick Murphys and Rancid are back at it for a part two with the amazing Bronx in tow.

As you figured from above, opening up is one of the most energized bands in punk rock with the Bronx. Matt Caughthran is fervent up there, pushing for movement and embracing the liveliness of that music from his band. Pushing those tempos and fast beats is Joey Castillo, a beast on their drums. Ken Horne kept coming out to the stage edge, showing off his guitar riffs and solos throughout. This comfort on stage and skill of the entire band showcases why they are so good on any stage.

If somehow unfamiliar with the Bronx, they are a long running punk rock band that has this infusion of classic rock ‘n roll through the veins of the traditional punk rock. That combination not only works well, but stands out amongst the crowd of the genre. The kicked off the set with “White Shadow” off their new album VI and incorporated a lot across their catalog. There was “Knifeman” and “Two Birds” and they closed on “Around the Horn.” All songs that should have kept a pit going, but this early crowd was up and down on the circle pit despite Matt’s driving enthusiasm to be moving. Regardless, the Bronx showed everyone who got there early exactly why they were asked to play on this tour.

Next would end up being Dropkick Murphys, in what I assume is just the luck of the draw of alternating through a tour with Rancid. With bagpipes up behind them playing, you had Jeff DeRosa with an acoustic guitar go center stage to the sole light as the rest of the band filled the stage. Then to the front came Al Barr and Ken Casey singing and running alternating from side to side of the Mesa Amphitheatre stage. They’d do that all night long through songs, never staying still. You had the various members of the band behind them, Jeff again, Tim Brennan, and James Lynch, occasionally running center stage with whatever instrument may be in their hand for that song of the set.

Over the hour plus set they performed songs off the new album, Turn Up That Dial, such as one with a dedication to a special woman for “Queen of Suffolk County.” The big ones of “Rose Tattoo” and “I’m Shipping Up To Boston” were in there with others from their long catalog including “Bar Room Hero.” “Tessie” was in there too, for their Red Sox while they are in the playoffs and a Dropkick tradition. Ken expressed his gratitude to see everyone once again after the past year and a half. He claimed that Al Barr was normally germaphobic, but being so appreciative told Ken backstage that he’d lick every member of the audience after to Al just laughing in response. Ken later on was pointing out the youngest of the crowd, praising them and happy to see them there. These playful examples and fantastic songs are why Dropkick Murphys are wonderful live on full display once again this show.

Last up would be the other punk rock legends that put the Berkeley in the tour name, Rancid. They filled the night with favorites that this crowd sang back along with them. It kicked off with a song that keeps returning as an earworm since Tuesday, “Maxwell Murder.” From there it was a reminder after reminder of wonderful Rancid song after another. They played my favorite song, “Fall Back Down” that had me singing along and the chorus to a couple friends nearby. Showing off the band comradery, Tim Brennan, of Dropkick, was out on the keyboard for songs like that too.  Not only did song after song have me mostly singing along, it had trying to skank to the more ska tracks like “Hooligans” and “Old Friend” back to back. However, due to an old mosh pit knee injury I’m currently in physical therapy for and a healing ankle from Punk Rock Bowling, my body decided two songs was the dancing limit this night. Luckily, my vocal chords carried on to the end with lyrics.

There were feelings of appreciation, like echoed in the earlier sets, and of how we are just one big family from Rancid. Lars dedicated songs to Arizona locals and friends of his, Lenny Mental and Mike Oxley. Later in the set, Lars went on to say it doesn’t matter your gender, the color of your skin, doesn’t matter if you’re gay or straight, or anything else as we are all family connected through this punk rock music fabric. He thanked everyone for allowing this band to continue to play for thirty years. They closed on “Ruby Soho” to put a perfect bow on the Rancid set and the latest stop in the second Boston to Berkeley tour.

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