Rancid had a backdrop, actually left over from last year, that said "20th Anniversary" -- a sign that the band and its fans had matriculated into an older, more mature phase where everyone kind of hangs back a little bit.
The second Rancid came out and ripped into its churning ska-punk classic "Roots Radicals," the pit at the sold-out Stage AE went absolutely wild, with bodies, some topped with mohawks, all banging against each other.
Who said punk is dead?
This was the Bay Area band's first visit here "in a long time," as noted by guitarist Lars Frederiksen, looking like your brutish uncle in a light-colored plaid shirt and jeans, his spiky blonde hair all shaved off. The members of Rancid have a few more pounds on them from their Warped Tour days but that hasn't slowed the tempo, not with drummer Branden Steineckert furiously driving the engine.
Rancid reacquainted itself with three more thrashy favorites from its 1995 classic "...And Out Came with the Wolves" -- "Journey to the End of the East Bay," "Maxwell Murder" and "The 11th Hour" -- keeping the pit in a testosterone-spiked frenzy. If you wanted to avoid elbows, shoulders and boots, it was wise to move back or head for higher ground.
Rancid needed just an hour to blaze through the first 26 songs, most from the heyday of their second and third albums. Frontman Tim Armstrong -- looking rad in all black, with shades and flat cap -- handled most of the raw, husky vocals and flashed riffs and leads that were more about speed and energy than replicating than studio versions. Bassist Matt Freeman took a few vocal turns, on "Black & Blue" and "Rejected," that almost made the other two sound like Adele. The soundman had the whole thing cranked to the level "pain," with one of the few breaks being Mr. Frederiksen's solo version of "The Wars End."
"Last One to Die" and "East Bay Night" were two solid entries from the most recent album, 2009's "Let the Dominos Fall." The single from the forthcoming album, "Honor is All We Know," which we'll call "[Forget] You," indicates that's it's going to be Rancid in its early punkest form.
If by mid set, the mosh pit and nearby circle pit slowed just a bit, it went back to full force for a climax charged with such favorites as "Olympia, WA," "Tenderloin," set-closer "Timebomb" and "Radio." They signed off with a joyous "Ruby Soho," Rancid's best take on The Clash.
Being the '90s punk band that didn't go Broadway or arena-rock, Rancid might be under the radar these days, but Friday night showed the guys could have a couple more decades left in them.
email@example.com; 412-263-2576. Twitter: @scottmervis_pg