Orlando, FL • August 7, 2005
Of the 100+ bands scheduled to play on the Warped Tour’s 11th run on its Orlando date, Transplants were the one I was most eager to see. Not because I particularly like the marriage of punk with hip hop that the trio creates, but because of who the trio is. The vocalist is a roadie-turned-rapper by the name of Rob Aston. Backing him, on drums is Blink 182’s Travis Barker, and on guitar/vocals veteran punk (Rancid, Operation Ivy) and HellCat Records owner Tim Armstrong. How this blending of styles would play out in front of an audience who paid to see a bunch of post-punk and emo bands had me curious.
If you’ve never been to a Warped Tour it’s a unique setup. First of all, the set times for everyone — even the headliners — aren’t decided upon until the morning of the show. Not only that, but once inside the gates you have to search out the giant inflatable schedule which lists the two main stages and the three secondary stages. As for the five or six smaller stages, you’re at the mercy of flyers and posters hung throughout the grounds.
“Rob Aston+Travis Barker”
On this particular day, Transplants took to one of the main stages soon after door time, at 1:30pm. Many concertgoers still outside dealing with the unorganized hassle of Ticketmaster’s willcall missed the early set. Still, a substantial crowd had gathered and from the moment Tim Armstrong appeared at the side of the stage, the crowd confirmed that he was the main attraction.
Opening with the first two songs off of their latest release, Haunted Cities, the band exploded into “Not Today” followed by “Apocalypse Now.” Rob Aston, in a blindingly white shirt with the words “Probation, Parole and Jails are traps” emblazoned on the front, lurched across the stage throwing his head back and screaming his vocals toward the sky. His stature is large and intimidating, though somehow clumsy — like a giant who could easily topple over. Aston’s strong presence and lyrical beatings took a backseat to Barker’s wild arms and Armstrong’s effortless leaps from the drum riser.
I’d like to say that I was blown away by the cross-blend of rap and punk, but it just didn’t deliver that punch despite an inspired effort on the band’s part. Each time Armstrong would take the vocals I’d get excited and think — Yes! Back to the roots! — only to be soon reminded, by Aston, that this was not a Rancid concert.
The Transplants: www.thetransplants.com