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Lagwagon and The Transplants
with Roger Miret and The Disasters, and Avoid One Thing
May 5, 2003
Irving Plaza - New York City, NY

See More Pictures Here Jason Cipriano
Senior Editor

A night of old-school punk and new-school side projects were on the agenda for masses assembled at Irving Plaza. One of the headliners, Lagwagon, has been around about as long as most of the youngins in the audience have been alive. The co-headliner, The Transplants, are the side project of two of the most well known and respected punks in today's very commercial scene, Tim Armstong and Travis Barker. The two openers were both fronted by members of two very respected bands, one of whom most of the crowd most likely knew better than the other. Roger Miret and The Disasters, (Roger Miret of Agnostic Front fame) and Avoid One Thing (Joe Gittleman of Mighty Mighty BossTones fame) rounded out the bill on what promised to be a very high energy, and, if nothing else, fun night of kick you in the teeth punk music.

Avoid One Thing

The first band to take the stage early on in the night was Avoid One Thing. Pulling from his longtime experience with The Mighty Mighty BossTones, Joe Gittleman fronted his crew expertly, playing to a crowd that appeared to be rather enjoying them. This pop-punk quartet had the band singing along to a short set of nine songs, six off of their self-titled debut, and three new tracks. The crowd, still increasing in size, appeared to be rather docile, as is true most of the time when the first opener is on stage, but a small pit surfaced once the band started playing some of their faster tracks such as, " Backyard Joey," and "Bombs-Building Songs". The crowd even appreciated the slower track "Lean On Sheena" singing a good amount of the lyrics with this Bosstone. Normally this would be a strong show of support for a band that might not command too much attention otherwise, but the pit eventually fizzled down to two assholes that may or may not have thought that Hatebreed was onstage instead of AOT. Obviously, these two may have ruined what could have been a good beginning to an outstanding night of music by their apparent mocking and inconsiderateness. They may have had a valid point though; Avoid One Thing might have not been the perfect opener for this particular show, maybe it was a little too soft. However, the band's heart filled performance onstage overshadowed what was going on in the crowd. I have said it before, and hopefully I will be given the chance to say it again: Avoid One Thing is one of the most underrated bands in music today, and they proved that they deserved a lot more credit than they have been getting.

Roger Miret

Roger Miret and The Disasters took the stage next, and kicked their set off just like their music, fast and hard.(Click Here for an Interview with Roger Miret) Fresh off a stint opening for some of the biggest names in Pop/Punk today (Good Charlotte and New Found Glory) The Disasters knew what this crowd wanted to hear - some good punk rock. Taking some time off from Agnostic Front, Roger Miret put together The Disasters to step away from AF's signature sound and work on something a little different, a little more melodic, a little more pleasing to the ears, and a little more appealing to different audiences. This was apparent in some of the songs from their set, including "Radio,Radio," and "Screw You." Roger Miret hunched over his microphone, sang his lyrics, and played his guitar like this was the band that he had been fronting for over 15 years. Respect and pure enjoyment shot forth from the crowd, along with pumping fists in support of The Disasters. This is one band that knew where they came from, in more ways than one. First of all, they dedicated a very well done cover of "Clash City Rockers" to a true punk hero, Joe Strummer. Secondly, they closed their set with their track "New York Belongs To Me." Before they began the song, Roger Miret told the crowd that he had lost three friends in the World Trade Center tragedies, and he really knew what it meant to be from New York. A speech like that got this NYC crowd to really appreciate the depth of this band as they finished their set. The crowd demonstrated this appreciation by obliging the band to a requested circle pit.

It is relatively understandable why a side project might draw a particularly large crowd, for a few reasons. The biggest being that you don't necessarily know if this is your only chance to see the band. However, it unusual for a side project that isn't closing a show to draw more of an audience than the well established headliner. Surprisingly, that was the case at this show. 85% of the audience appeared to be there for, potentially, The Transplants only area appearance, ever. Barely stopping to take a breath, this band came out and ripped the stage apart, and along with the insane energy flowing from the crowd, The Transplants get the award for being the highest energy band of the night. The three primary members, as heard on the album, held down their positions in band so well, that if The Transplants were the only band on the agenda for the night, the show would have still been worth it. Rob Ashton rapped and growled out the vocals over the reggae infused punk/hardcore sound. Tim Armstong proved why he one of the most well known men in the punk world, clad in true punk fashion (leather jacket, studs galore, and signature bandana) he got the crowd going playing his guitar less for himself and more for the crowd. He also lent his very recognizable voice as back up vocals to counter Ashton's throaty snarls. The hardest working drummer today, Travis Barker, held down the beats, shirtless, on his gold plated drum kit. There were also two more unnamed members on guitar and bass to help make the tracks off of an album that was almost completely constructed with ProTools sounds as if they had never passed through a computer. Simply put, this is the band that most of the crowd was there to see that night, with good reason.

The Transplants

The Transplants opened their set with the opening track of their album, "Romper Stomper," and, simply put, all hell broke loose. They cruised through their set winding the crowd up and then letting them down with some of their slower, more reggae influenced tracks like "Weigh On My Mind." They also played a true punk staple song, the second Clash cover of the night, "White Riot." This is one band that you can tell wouldn't exist if the Clash never had. Mr. Armstong dedicated "California Babalyon" to a close friend of his, Billie Joe that had came out to NY to see the show (could this possibly be the same Billie Joe that he co-wrote "Radio" with?). The Transplants dedicated "Sad But True" to all the New York bands for this hardcore New York crowd. Rob Ashton also made a special dedication of the Vandals' track "Johnny Two Bags"to the New York hardcore band Skarhead. "D.J. D.J.," "Diamonds and Guns," and the set closing "Tall Cans In The Air" almost knocked the crowd off their feet because there was so much going on in the pit, and so many people singing along. Even though The Transplants only co-headlined this show, they were definitely the best band of the evening.

Lagwagon

The last time I saw Lagwagon, in pretty much the same setting, and just about the same situation. Even though they were the headlining band both times, and very respected in their own right, on both occasions they were outshined by the band that went on before them, The Transplants this time, and The Vandals last time. Their set this time had the same kind of pop-punk touches as their latest album Blaze. They did still hold their own as one of the longest running punk bands still releasing albums, but I question whether or not they should have been headlining this show also. Mixing tracks spanning their career, but focusing on the ones off the album that they were on tour supporting, such as "E Dagger, " and "Falling Apart," Lagwagon did impress the crowd, even thought it appeared that the crowd had thinned out a bit. The ones that remained sang along to almost every track, including the new ones, and the pit hit true danger levels, that's how much activity there was. Closing their set with a cover of the much-anticipated party anthem, "Brown Eyed Girl." Their set was good, but perhaps The Transplants should have closed out this particular night.

Overall, this is one of the best nights of punk rock music that this reviewer has attended in a long time, mixing old school, new school, and old schoolers doing new things. Checking out any of the four bands on this bill is a must for any punk rock fan.

Jason Cipriano is the Senior Editor. Contact him at jasonc@rockzone.com.


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