BY DAVID J. NICOLAS
Friday Night: The Offspring, Alkaline Trio at Verizon Wireless Amphitheater, Irvine; June 5, 2009.
Say what you will about the Offspring. Yes, their heavy punk-pop distortion seems to be a better fit in a different decade. Being :pretty fly for a white guy" is an anomaly in itself. But don't tell that to the nearly 16,000 fist-pumping fans at the Verizon Wireless Amphitheater Friday night in Irvine.
Families wore matching over-sized T-shirts fresh from the merchandise table, a couple of fire pits lit up the lawn and grown-ass men, still wearing their business shirts and khaki pants, gyrated and hopped about off-rhythm. It was a sight to see.
The Offspring's "Shit is Fucked Up" tour is its first North American swing in four years, and the first since the release of last year's Rise And Fall, Rage And Grace. The show was a homecoming show for the Huntington Beach natives.
For those that don't know, before the hot sauce (try it, it's pretty good), Dexter Holland and bassist Greg Krissel formed Offspring after they couldn't get into a Social Distortion concert. The high school punks took on the older Kevin "Noodles" Wasserman as lead guitarist, got a drummer, and later recorded its first full length in '85. After their self-titled debut and multi-platinum records like Smash, Rise and Fall marked the band's eighth studio album.
Alkaline Trio warmed up the crowd and showed that it is no longer the scrappy band of the Goddamnit era. The band has tightened up its sound and paired a lot of refreshingly melodic hooks with its dark, often death-obsessed lyrics. What other bands can elegantly lead thousands of people to admit their "love for fire" or allow others to revel about playing in singer Matt Skiba's blood?
The Trio played a good mix of songs underneath a changing light show of dark blues and reds. The band opened with "Calling All Skeletons," a cut off their newest record Agony & Irony, and sneaked in old favorites like "Private Eye" and "Fatally Yours."
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Soon enough--and it was soon, in order to beat Irvine's curfew--the HB crew took the stage. The Offspring's set neared an hour-and-a-half, and had all the songs that casual listener would be able to recognize, and the ones fans expect to hear.
As they came on stage, one by one, it seemed that not much has changed about the guys. Singer Dexter Holland, despite packing on some pounds, still styles his bleach blonde hair in spikes and still belts out his tunes in the same scathing screech. Noodles was gangly and hunched over his guitar while he played; a cigarette in his mouth. Newcomer drummer Pete Parada, formerly of Face to Face and Saves The Day, was a marvel in front of a giant Lite-Brite-like projection as the brightness changed and flickered with every hit of the crash or click of a cowbell.
Although Holland seemed out of gas after the first four songs, the band made it through a 21-song set that included "Bad Habit," "Gotta Get Away," "Americana" and much in between. The band closed with "Self Esteem."
Holland didn't pass out.