Rancid - Live in Quebec City (Cover Artwork)


Live in Quebec City (2023)

live show

An evening of perfect late summer weather in the historic downtown marina of Quebec City was my setting to enjoy a headlining set by perhaps the most legendary 90s punk band of all time, Rancid. The annual multi-day festival Envol et Macadam had taken over the Old Port Agora; a permanent outdoor amphitheatre venue featuring both a sloped concrete floor and baseball stadium-style seating that features incredible views for anyone no matter how short or tall they might be. Surrounded by illuminated heritage buildings on one side and docked cruise ships on the other, this was a scene out of a travel brochure. I have seen plenty of shows in Montreal and other parts of Quebec, but this was my first visit to the capital city of “la belle province.”

When I arrived, Big D & The Kids Table were hammering through their set of upbeat ska-punk anthems. Although this was a festival, it just felt like a regular show since there was only one stage and an easily digestible number of acts. Up next was Agnostic Front, a quality support act who blasted through classics like “Victim in Pain”, “Crucified” and “Gotta Go!”, with Vinnie Stigma holding up his guitar for the crowd to cheer at after every single song. The sound was great and the sight lines to the stage were phenomenal; I had never experienced an outdoor venue this elite. Attendance looked like it was somewhere between 10,000 and 12,000 but being on the floor never felt too crowded or uncomfortable.

The stage backdrop was promptly set to the plain stencil Rancid logo. Without an introduction or walk-out song, the stage lights suddenly dimmed, and Lars Frederiksen ran out to his microphone stand while frantically strumming the opening riff of “Roots Radicals” a full 15-minutes before the band’s scheduled set time. No one was going to argue about getting some bonus time here, as the band followed behind him and tore through hit after hit for the next 75-minutes. All the staples rang out: “Radio”, “Maxwell Murder”, “Salvation”, and “Journey to the End of the East Bay” among others. My personal favourite songs of the night were two that I was not expecting with “Something in the World Today” and the b-side track “I Wanna Riot”.

I counted a total of 26 songs in this set. 17 of these were pulled from 1994’s Let’s Go! and 1995’s …And Out Come the Wolves. Disappointingly, not a single track from 2023’s Tomorrow Never Comes made the set list. The playing was top notch. Both Tim and Lars sounded great on the mic. Matt Freeman’s bass was world-class. The atmosphere was electric. The setting was once in a lifetime. The only place where I can deduct a single point as a reviewer is that, essentially, they just played too many hits. I would have traded “Old Friend” for “Evil’s My Friend”. I would have traded “Gunshot” for this year’s title track “Tomorrow Never Comes”. Some may think these choices are crazy, but I just found the band pulled from the 1994-95 well a few too many times. All four members huddled at the drumkit before the last song, where Lars announced they needed to make the festival curfew, so they had to quickly choose one more: “Ruby Soho”. Really, Lars? You’ve been a band for over 30-years and a huddle was needed to pick “Ruby Soho”? Now, if they had gone with “Meteor of War” then my opinion about that huddle would be much different.

All in all, this barrage of hit songs by arguably the most legendary band for anyone immersed in 90s punk culture, set in an historic downtown waterfront venue, was unforgettable and can only achieve the highest of ratings.


You can see a photo of the venue here: https://i.ibb.co/D91jpCh/Rancid-01.jpg

You can see a photo of Rancid performing here: https://i.ibb.co/Bs04ByS/Rancid-02.jpg