Rancid and the Transplants: Punky and Proud at NYC’s Terminal 5 [Exclusive Photos]
Nine hundred ninety-seven out of a thousand males aged 40 or older would look absolutely ridiculous standing on a stage and playing punk rock. The exceptions are guys like bassist Matt Freeman and singer-guitarists Tim Armstrong and Lars Frederiksen, the core trio behind the Bay Area institution Rancid, which stopped in New York City last night (June 20) to kick off a two-night stand at Terminal 5. (See exclusive photos below.)
Freeman, Frederiksen and especially Armstrong are clearly ill-suited for any other kind of life, and even forgetting about Lars’ facial tattoos or that spiderweb Tim’s got inked on top of his noggin, you can’t imagine them commuting to offices or lunching with coworkers. Which isn’t to say they’re antisocial; in fact, what came across during Thursday’s show was just how much these self-proclaimed outsiders value community. The group — which also includes newbie drummer Branden Steineckert — opened with ‘Radio,’ as strong a statement as has ever been made about why punk appeals to a certain type of individual.
“When I got the music, I got a place to go,” Armstrong sang, his voice crackly and slurry but arguably clearer and more purposeful than it’s been at any point since 1994, when Rancid recorded the tune for their second album, ‘Let’s Go.’
Rancid drew heavily from that collection and its follow-up, 1995’s ‘… And Out Come the Wolves,’ the closest they’ve come to marrying their love of thuggish British Oi! and street punk with the Jamaican rebel-rock inflections of the Clash and the pop sensibilities they’ve never really tried to hide. The ‘Wolves’ anthems ‘Roots Radicals,’ ‘Journey to the End of the East Bay’ (all about Armstrong and Freeman’s adventures in Operation Ivy, the ur-ska-punk band they played in before Rancid), ‘Old Friend’ and ‘Olympia, WA’ bear-hug the heart and burrow into the brain. They’re the types of songs that inspire tattoos, and that led Thursday to plenty of sing-alongs.
The same might be said for ‘F— You,’ a blunt yet effective new tune slated to appear on the quartet’s eighth album, which Frederiksen revealed is due later this year and tentatively titled ‘Honor Is All We Know.’
By the closing ‘Ruby Soho,’ an MTV crossover back in the day, Armstrong had been onstage for nearly four hours, having opened for himself, so to speak, as a member of the Transplants. The indefatigable 46-year-old plays more of a secondary role in that outfit, a supergroup of sorts featuring Blink-182 drummer Travis Barker. The Transplants cross their crusty pop-punk with hip-hop — most notably in the raspy rapping of frontman Skinhead Rob — but as with Rancid, it’s music for uniting the like-minded.
“Tall cans in the air, let me see ’em,” Rob sang on the closing ‘Tall Cans in the Air,’ just before turning up a middle finger to those who might laugh at the idea of middle-aged men stomping around like a bunch of defiant teenagers. “F— you!”
Check Out More Exclusive Photos of Rancid and the Transplants at Terminal 5 in NYC