Words: Miljan Milekić
There is quite some history when it comes to Good Riddance and myself. I don’t even remember when or how I discovered the band, but they have been a regular feature on our website, ever since we started it, back in 2017. It was in 2019, after the release of their latest record ‘Thoughts and Prayers,’ that we had a chance to interview them, followed by another interview we did with singer Russ Rankin around his solo album ‘Come Together, Fall Apart,’ in 2021. A few months ago, we caught up with Rankin once more to discuss his new poetry book ‘Pure Few Hearts,’ and now it was finally time to catch the band live.
The night started with Edmonton’s Choke, a band I knew of for a while, but never gave them a real shoot. And now, I feel like I owe them an apology. By the time they kicked off their second or third song, the floor of Amigos Cantina was already full, hot, and sweaty, and the punk rock party could start. Technical and melodic, rather than aggressive, the four-piece delivered a tight and energetic set, relying heavily on the skate punk ethos. Recently reunited, and continuing where they left off, they bring a fresh new energy to the stage, quickly connecting with the crowd.
Good Riddance kicked in next, with full force. The band has a legendary status among punk rock fans all over the world, and from the first notes it’s clear why. It didn’t take them long to get the crowd going, and at no point did they slow down. With nine albums to pick from, the band was able to deliver a set with more than 20 songs, without skipping a beat. They touch on every phase of the long career, switching seamlessly between older and newer songs, including the above-mentioned 2019’s ‘Thoughts and Prayers.’
Four years after the release, I still consider the record to be criminally underrated, so I was happy to hear ‘Edmund Pettus Bridge’ and ‘Don’t Have Time’ slotted in alongside classics like ‘Weight Of The World,’ and ‘Darkest Days,’ and receiving a similar reaction from the crowd. Although, obviously, nothing can beat the reaction to ‘One For The Braves’ or ‘Last Believer,’ which closed the show. And speaking of the crowd – there is something special in the air at shows like this, hard to explain to someone outside the punk rock scene.
At this point in their career, Good Riddance is a band that offers no surprises. Nor they are trying to. Everyone knew exactly what to expect, and the band delivered just that. They are a punk rock band – nothing more, nothing less. A damn good one, but a punk rock band. But it’s the simplicity and the sense of familiarity and intimacy that makes shows like this so special.
It’s the way they talk and joke with the crowd and the lack of special effects or massive production that brings the band and the crowds together as one. And doing this for decades, Good Riddance knew exactly how to navigate through it, whether they were offering us all guestlist spots for tomorrow’s show in Winnipeg if we rented a bus and got there, or making a shot or two at certain country star playing a show in town on the same night.