Rancid & Transplants – A Reflection


San Francisco’s Warfield hosted two nights of Rancid and the Transplants. For Tim Armstrong, this meant playing two sets per night. These weren’t just “we feel like doing a tour” shows, these were Rancid’s 20th anniversary tour shows that they ended in two nights back home in the Bay Area.

In preparation for the shows, I deeply considered the pit. To mosh or not to mosh? That is the question. Night one was a decision not to enter the dangers of a punk show pit. I’ve been kicked in the head one too many times to see the appeal anymore. Maybe I’m getting old.

The first night was dedicated to dancing (that awkward ska punch/kick shuffle) and drinking. It was a chance to show off how bad ass I look at rapping Skinhead Rob’s part of “Red Hot Moon” (read: I don’t but it didn’t matter).

Night one was dedicated to being out in the Bay: we danced too much, we drank too much and we had too much fun. It was about being young and in love with punk rock.

It was a blast, but night two made me think. You know, Rancid has been doing this for 20 years, and that’s not even counting their individual side projects. Then, here I am ten years later still listening and singing along to every word. I was reminded of how this was supposed to be a “phase she’s going through,” when a 13-year-old me wanted a lip ring and purple hair. I saw Tim Armstrong, Lars Frederiksen, Matt Freeman and Branden Steineckert singing the songs and playing the music that I played air guitar to ten years ago. I still felt that surge of energy, that feeling of yes, this is it and that unrealistic sense of belonging I couldn’t find anywhere else.

I took to the pit for night two. I clung to the safety of the very, very outer edge, but I was in the pit. Then I saw it: a parent with three kids (I think two were his own and one was a friend) also on the outer edge. Somehow this man kept a hold on three kids )aged somewhere between 10-12) during a Rancid set, which makes him father of the year in my book.

As all of this was happening, I was taken back to the Warfield about a week before this when I saw Fitz and the Tantrums. It was a fantastic show with some ridiculously talented musicians, but audience members were rather rude. Some woman with a huge purse bumped into me and gave me a snarl as if my presence was in the way of her bag she couldn’t control. She went back to sipping her vodka and something without an apology of even an apologetic look. My only thought was, Whatever. I’m here to see FATT, not your attitude. Then, I promptly ignored her.

Then, I realized a Rancid show is exactly the place you should have your kids. Punks know who want to be in the pit. After several people accidentally bumped into me, I got an apology every time. A kid with a quite impressive mohawk saw I was trying to snap a picture and ducked his spikes out of the way for me. A sweaty crowd surfer hit the aforementioned brave father as he was jumping back into the pit, stopped moving placed both hands on the father’s shoulders and sincerely apologized for bumping into him as he pushed his way back to the front.

The kid that was probably the friend of the group decided he wanted to crowd surf. I saw him for a split second in the air, but it made my night. No one let him down. He was carried across the pit and as he went with the flow of the crowd, a massive, toothy grin was plastered across his face. He was carried safely to the security at the front of the stage where he promptly ran back to punk rock dad, jumping and laughing with the brightest, happiest eyes a 10-12-year-old could give.

That was all I needed. I just thought, I’m going to see this kid at the 30th anniversary tour, and I thought (hoped) maybe he’d have liberty spikes by then.

TL;DR When I got the music, I got a place to go.

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