Twenty years for anything is a long time, 20 years for a band can feel like a lifetime, but for California punk legends, Rancid, it is more than that, it is family, love, and a united brotherhood. This year the band celebrates the 20th anniversary of their landmark debut, which was one of the many albums of the mid-90s that helped put American punk back on the map and into the mainstream. While Rancid members are currently working on their new, eighth album, tentatively titled Honor Is All We Know, they are hitting the road to celebrate their two decades together.
Playing two sold-out shows at New York's Terminal 5, on the final night, the band was joined by punk supergroup, Transplants and hardcore heroes Crown of Thornz.
At half-past seven, Crown of Thornz opened the night and while the audience inside Terminal 5 were a fraction of what would come later one, it was a way to set the tone and mood. The thrash hardcore band did not have to travel far, just over the 59th Street Bridge / Ed Koch Bridge from Queens to start the show. The band, whose rocky history have sidelined them over the years looked as if their past was behind them and it was time to focus on the future and the future looks bright. As singer Lord Ezec declared that Lars from Rancid would be producing their new album, it was time to test some new material and gain new followers, which they seemed to do in a glowing fashion.
Next, would be Transplants, one of two bands that Rancid co-singer and guitarist Tim Armstrong would be performing with. While Armstrong did double duty, having the Transplants perform in a club is certainly a special occasion, as the punk supergroup that features Travis Barker, "Skinhead" Rob, and Elvis Cortez blew many people, including myself, away with how solid and raucous their liver performance was. During the nu-metal craze or rap-rock phase of the late '90s / early '00s, Transplants formed as a hip-hop/punk outfit which helped them gain much attention, yet, as they have gone on and gotten older, it seems to be back to punk basics, as their new album, In The Warzone will show. As "Skinhead" Rob and Armstrong switched off vocal duties, it was great to see Barker in a room like Terminal 5, still one of musics greatest drummers, Barker does so much utilizing such a little drum kit, which makes his sound and style all the more unique and special. In their hour-long set, Transplants made their triumphant return and are back, bigger and better than ever.
In this punk extravaganza Rancid were ready to be the masters of ceremony. Just before 10 p.m., guitarist and co-singer Lars Frederiksen walked out and started strumming and singing "Roots Radicals," before the rest of the band could get on stage, it was as if an explosion happened inside Terminal 5. Bodies, cups of beer, water bottles, sneakers, eye glasses, articles of clothing were flying around like shrapnel and there was no way to seek protection or aid, it was join or die and that is how Rancid would want it. Punks and fans of all ages were creepy crawling, moshing, crowd surfing and setting up circle pits to further the chaos. As the temperature rose in the crowd, Rancid kept the momentum going with a career spanning set with songs that included "Last One to Die," "Hooligans," "Red Hot Moon," "Gunshot," "Fall Back Down," and "Time Bomb." In a 29-song setlist, Rancid were showing no signs of slowing down. Fellow guitarist and co-singer Tim Armstrong would profess his love for New York City, "New York, I love you. This is my favorite place, this is my favorite city, I love it here. You always had us and understood us from the beginning and made us feel at home." With an abundance of love from the crowd, Rancid were at home and for two nights they took a big bite out of the Big Apple. As the band retreated to the wings for a brief break, they returned for a three song encore that included, "Radio," "Black Derby Jacket," and the show stopping "Ruby Soho." As the fans piled out of Terminal 5, beaten up, exhausted, sweaty, and dirty, it was their way of saying "Thank you, Rancid for 20 amazing years."