Friday night was punk rock night in New York City. Three thousand punk rock fans gathered at Terminal 5 for the second night of a two-night run of Rancid and Transplants. Some had gone to both nights, and for that, I respect them. Anyone who can do that much two nights in a row is worthy of respect.
The opening act was Crown of Thornz, a hardcore band who had been around New York for a long time and was well known in that circle. I am not in that circle, so I did not know them. But others at the show did, and as punks celebrate their joy and enthusiasm by violently running into each other, I could tell that many people were very excited to see them.
Next up was Transplants, with their unique blend of punk rock and hip-hop. The group is the brainchild of Rancid's Tim Armstrong, Blink-182's Travis Barker, and "Skinhead" Rob Aston. Their new album In a Warzone will be released tomorrow, June 25, so the set had quite a few songs off the new album. And many people seemed to know it pretty well already.
Armstrong was pulling double duty at the show, playing in both Transplants and Rancid. His interesting playing style of "looking like you're not really playing" will forever intrigue me, but he always sounds great. Travis Barker is known by most people only as the drummer for Blink-182, but he really is one of the best living drummers around, and watching him was truly a sight to behold.
They played hard and got people moshing, which is what punk rockers always really want to do. Rancid's Matt Freeman came out to play bass for their big hit "Diamonds and Guns," which for some reason is best known for being used in a Garnier Fructis commercial. Though they made sure to leave out all the lyrics.
It was a great set, but the best was yet to come. We were all ready for Rancid and ready to start pushing each other violently, but only out of camaraderie and respect. Or just because it's what you do at these shows.
Rancid's set was, in a word, amazing. This was my first show of theirs and after almost ten years of listening to them, I was pretty psyched to finally see them live. Matt Freeman is a personal hero of mine and to watch him play is a beautiful thing.
They played songs from every one of their seven albums, including over half of the songs off of ...and Out Come the Wolves, which many consider one of the best punk albums of the 90s, if not ever. Everyone knew every word and made sure to sing/scream along.
They were joined onstage by a few guests for some songs, including Transplants bassist/keyboardist Kevin Bivona for "Hooligans" and "Red Hot Moon," the latter of which also brought out "Skinhead" Rob for the final verse. It's been twenty years since Rancid's first album, but they haven't lost it at all, showing that you don't have to be 15 to be a punk rock kid.
Rancid's set ended up being an astonishing 29 songs long. Which may seem like twice as many as a normal headliner, but when all the songs are two to three minutes long, it was a normal length. But it was always intense, and their punk rock energy mixed with the occasional ska song (the longtime partner of punk) kept everyone raging. It was definitely worth the wait.
Check out the full setlists below:
In a Warzone
See it to Believe It
Gangsters and Thugs
Do They Owe Us a Living (Crass cover)
Sad But True
Back to You
Razors in the Night (Blitz cover)
Diamonds and Guns
Tall Cans in the Air
Journey to the End of the East Bay
The 11th Hour
Last One to Die
East Bay Night
Red Hot Moon
Black & Blue
It's Quite Alright
The Wars End
Fall Back Down
Something in the World Today
Black Derby Jacket