The Offspring and the Adolescents
What better band to headline the beginning of Pacific Amphitheater's summer concert series than hometown heroes The Offspring? The band, which was celebrating the 20th anniversary of the hugely successful album Smash played a special performance which included that entire album, plus a set of other hits and other classic Offspring songs.
Though it's been a while since the band was a mainstay on MTV, they've managed to stay fastened to mainstream radio like KROQ and continue to sell out venues around the world. Musically, Dexter Holland's vocals still are top notch and stood up on their own on Friday night, acting as an instrument within the guitar work of Noodles, bassist Greg K and drummer Pete Parada.
See also: Seven Things You Didn't Know About Smash
The sound was very crisp and clean, and each song sounded virtually like it would have in 1994. The band might be middle aged, but still possess that youth punk energy that blazed through the '90s punk scene. Noodles put on quite a show, leaping around the stage and off of guitar amps, while openly admitting he had a few. "I'm having fun, but I'm definitely buzzed he said, mid way through the band's hour long set." The giant TV screens flashed the band on stage: Parada smashing away at the drums, Greg K and Noodles jumping back and forth in unison and Dexter smiling and projecting his voice across the entire outdoor venue.
8,000 people all sang along to the album, on songs that made the band famous, such as 'Gotta Get Away,' 'Self Esteem,' and 'Come Out and Play." There were no lasers, wild lights pyrotechnics or fireworks, but stage was set up with a giant banner with the original artwork from Smash.
The band finished playing the album and then took less than a five-minute intermission before coming out to perform more recent, and old school hits. Fans all gulped beers, sang out loud and raised their fists for tunes like "You're Gonna Go Far Kid," "Pretty Fly For a White Guy," "Why Don't you Get a Job?" and the anthem like set closer, "The Kids Aren't Alright."
The Offspring showed two faces to the crowd tonight: one was a band that was humble and still held on to the OC '90s punk rock roots; and the other was a band bigger that was able to transcend into pop punk, and even alternative mainstream, to be known as a modern rock band. With great vocals and the ability to write catchy, great songs, the band has no problem with both roles, and that left the fans in Costa Mesa satisfied.
Although the venue was just under half full by the time the seminal OC punk band Adolescents took the stage around sun set, people who missed this explosive furious set by the legendary OC punk rock veterans fucked up. The set was short and sweet, focusing mostly on newer songs such as "Fukushima Lemon Twist," "Lockdown America" and "Silent Water," but still playing classics like "No Way," and "Amoeba," from the classic 1981 debut known as The Blue Album. Founding member, bassist Steve Soto kept the baselines down, as singer Tony Cadena resembled a punk rock version of Ozzy, minus the British accent.
The Adolescents' set was more politically charged than normal, as the band had many banners up with sentiments against police brutality ('Film the Police') and the murder of Fullerton homeless man Kelly Thomas, three years ago. Thomas' father, Ron, introduced the band, thanking them for support in his cause against police brutality. At one point, a piñata resembling the head of Ex Fullerton cop Manuel Ramos was thrown into the crowd. Cadena then told the crowd that hundreds of sheets of paper with an individual's name on them were being passed out for people to look up. 'Research each one of these people on Google, and find out why they were killed by the police!"
With a set lasting exactly 30 minutes, the Adolescents put on a very energetic performance, but packed into just half an hour, and in a venue with no floor for kids to slam dance, the show lacked that energy that only a pit can bring.
Critical Bias: Smash was released in 1994 on Epitaph records, and has sold well over 20 million albums since. The album is what made The Offspring a mainstream success with the hit singles, MTV videos and radio airplay. It is known as one of the best selling albums ever for an independent label.
The Crowd: There were generations of punks including gray haired tatted up bros, old school OC punk homies and their OC Housewives. The venue was also full of average Jack 93.1 FM and KROQ fans, including many families with younger kids in Offspring, Sublime and No Doubt shirts, and OC Fair visitors of all ages.
Overheard: "Wow, I gotta say, I've had a few drinks, but someone has some really great smelling pot out there," Dexter's told the crowd just after the band finished playing Smash. "The weed was shitty when we were growing up, but damn, this stuff smells so strong. But I shouldn't talk about that, there are kids here!" he said before the five minute intermission, and then the second set of songs.
Random Notebook Dump: The Offspring will join fellow punk rock colleagues Pennywise and Bad Religion for a string of dates this summer known as the Summer Nationals Tour. Opening for the shows on different dates will be the Vandals and Stiff Little Fingers.