Good Riddance

support Useless ID + NOFNOG
author PP date 08/06/22 venue Kulturbolaget, Malmö, SWE

Even though the situation has more or less normalized for us everyday regular folk, promoters are still having a tough time attracting crowds. It doesn't seem to be a problem for the most popular bands, but as soon as you reach the tiers just below in each genre, ticket sales are nowhere near what they used to be prior to Covid-19. People are reporting downwards from 50% sales of the normal. That appears to be the case tonight as well here at KB, a great venue with space for up to 850 guests at a sold-out capacity. Even the allure of free entrance via a Punk In Drublic Malmö ticket hasn't been able to draw more than about a hundred or 150 people at best for Good Riddance, a seminal punk rock band that you'd expect to fill the venue at least to a third or halfway capacity on a normal night.

NOFNOG

NOFNOG

Tonight's opening band NOFNOG thus starts their set in a virtually empty venue about half an hour after doors open. We recently reviewed the Swiss punk rock band's latest album "Insomnia" here, and found its melodic, crusty punk rock to be enjoyable, if somewhat forgettable in the long run. Despite a strong opening where especially "Go On" and "Memento Mori" sound great, with the band displaying solid energy by engaging in scissor kick jumps and the like, the set overall feels pretty much exactly like the latter description. The piercing, razor-sharp hardcore punk cuts with gang shouts offer some variety, and their energy is commendable especially when they all bounce together in unison, but in the end, the set feels monotonous and not exactly memorable despite the band trying their best.

Useless ID

Useless ID

Israel's Useless ID on the other hand takes control of the venue immediately with simply irresistible, infectious energy. Not only are their skate punk songs melodic and catchy, recalling No Use For A Name at their best, but they play with such a great, laid-back attitude throughout, joking around at every opportunity despite seemingly playing non-stop in Against Me!-like fashion. Their harmonious melodies and the uptempo approach result in great vibes and just enough rowdiness to create the ingredients for a great show. The venue has filled up to around 100-150 people at this point, so it no longer feels empty as the band shred through their breakneck speed songs. Heads are bopping, it's smiles all around, and people are genuinely having a great time, it seems. That said, towards the latter third of the show, their set takes a heavier and darker turn soundwise. It's not as happy-go-lucky, upbeat party vibes as earlier. Nevertheless, it's easy to see why Useless ID are considered criminally underrated by those in the know.

Good Riddance

Few bands have the sort of underground legend credentials as Good Riddance. Throughout the 90s and the early 2000s, they released records that are today considered genre classics within politically charged punk rock, despite never having reached a similar level of superstardom as Rise Against did later on in the same genre, for example. One of the reasons why is their live performance, which has always focused on a no-bullshit approach of just playing their fast-paced songs in an unassuming, unapologetic manner. Not exactly known for displays of uncontrollable energy, Good Riddance has for as long as I remember stood mostly still in a static format on stage, leaving it up to the crowd to make the best of a given show and requiring you to be well-versed in their back catalogue to get the most out of it.

Good Riddance

That's also the case tonight, but with the added problem of the vocals being super low in the mix for some reason. It's difficult to hear Rankin's signature style coarse bark as it's drowned by the guitar and the drums for the most part. So while the band revisits so many classics from the mid-90s, focusing on material from 1995-2001 for the most part, it's difficult to make out the songs from the mix, resulting in a muddy wall of anonymous punk rock where classics should stand clear. As such, it's only the die-hards at front lifting their hands up in worship over the melodies, while the rest of us are left struggling to make out the songs from the mix. Yes, it improves as the set goes along, but not enough to make a difference because Rankin's parts are such a big part of their sound so a huge part feels like it's missing.

Tonight, the band is also without guitarist Luke Pabic due to family reasons, so they've brought along Matt Hoffman to fill in from Russ Rankin's melodic hardcore group Only Crime. Considering the wealth of material being played from plenty of old-school albums, he does a brilliant job at filling in all things considered.

Good Riddance

At one point, the drum kit takes quite a lot of damage and the band spends several minutes duct taping it together (seriously!) while they joke about Social Distortion shows and how they can't play a cover of them properly. It's one of the moments where the band feels at their most genuine as they're thrown outside of their comfort zone.

"Disputatio" gets the first sing-along of the night, but it is "Mother Superior" that draws a small pit with engaged fans throwing it in at the front. "United Cigar" also manages a small sing-along, and likewise, "Slowly" draws a big response from the crowd in a chain of songs that comes across as the best sequence of the night.

Good Riddance

Loads of old school cuts later, I can't help but be bothered about how static and stand-still Good Riddance looks like on stage. Sure, they're visibly old, but in the end, you're expecting a little bit more energy and crowd dynamic than what's on offer tonight. Sadly, it's been more of a pattern than an exception to the rule in my last decade of watching Good Riddance shows on multiple continents across the world: great songs on records, but the live performance leaves so much more to be desired. What a frustrating showing for the fans of the band

Setlist:

  • 1. Don't Have Time
  • 2. Letters Home
  • 3. Last Believer
  • 4. One For the Braves
  • 5. Half Measures
  • 6. Yesterday's Headlines
  • 7. All Fall Down
  • 8. Disputatio
  • 9. Edmund Pettus Bridge
  • 10. Salt
  • 11. Heresy, Hypocrisy, and Revenge
  • 12. Shadows of Defeat
  • 13. Running on Fumes
  • 14. Mother Superior
  • 15. Shit-Talking Capitalists
  • 16. United Cigar
  • 17. Slowly
  • 18. Shame
  • 19. Dylan
  • 20. Steps
  • 21. Weight of the World
  • 22. The Hardest Part
  • 23. A Credit to His Gender
  • --Encore--
  • 24. Pisces/Almost Home
  • 25. Libertine

Photos by: Fernanda Uchôa

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