The announcement of the Epitaph Records-sponsored Summer Nationals tour during the summer of 2014, an expansion of 1994's three-night-long run of the Hollywood Palladium, is a tour that not only spans North America, but also supplies jam-packed punk rock supremacy each night of its frantic jaunt infesting the continent. It unquestioningly beckoned all kinds of punks for a wild show of painfully fun proportions. The tour hit Philadelphia on Saturday, August 2nd, an outdoor show at the Electric Factory that fortunately saw the rainy weather pass hours before its beginning.
With the sunny skies came the Vandals to kick off the event in their own way, playing hits like "Anarchy Burger" and "My Girlfriend's Dead," that from the way the show was set up, anybody within a block (especially around 6th and Spring Garden, where the backstage was set up) could hear these songs loud and clear. It added to the effect that this was really an invasion of punk rock greats that ironically shared the same performing night as Billy Joel and Miley Cyrus, who were at the convention centers near the very bowels of South Philadelphia (where they belong). The Summer Nationals motherfuckers where in the very heart of the city, playing loud, fast, and not giving a fuck (as it should be).
Pennywise emerged second and blasted into their set with "Pennywise," maybe for the fans in attendance not familiar with their origin. Lead vocalist Jim Lindberg addressed the thousands of punks present the most directly, admitting their songs were older than some of their listeners, calling out the lazy pits of the audience, even hinting at another Summer Nationals tour next summer. Pennywise did get everybody going for songs like "Fuck Authority," "Perfect People," "and "Live For Today," however it was the band's covers of Ramones' "Blitzkrieg Bop," Minor Threat's "Minor Threat," and a one-second-long-appearance from Descendents' Milo Auckerman singing "All" that really exemplified that this was more than just a reunion tour, but a genuine celebration of all punk rock, for the fun of it.
Bad Religion was the catalyst that took the show up to the next level as the mosh pit never ceased to thrash and convulse like a maniacal vessel carrying the energy and passion of the crowd. As the band broke out in "A Walk" directly followed by "You," everybody was losing their minds- and hurting each other- to Bad Religion's more "sentimental" songs as lead singer Greg Graffin repeatedly referred to them as. And they didn't stop there. Their set was a non-stop onslaught that rolled out almost like a greatesat hits album- as they tackled tracks like "21st Century Digital Boy," "New Dark Ages," "Skyscraper," "Best For You," "American Jesus," "Infected," "Do What You Want," and "Stranger Than Fiction." Bad Religion intermixed "True North" and "Dept. of False Hope" from last year's True North into their performance, with equal intenstity from both the band and fans- making Bad Religion a tough act to follow.
The Offspring managed to do it, however, as they delved into playing their popular record Smash , though not without acknowledging their appreciation for everyone "sticking around" to see them play. "Nitro (Youth Energy)," "Bad Habit," and "It'll Be A Long Time" served to appease the crowd of old and young punks alike as they delivered the album to the audience playfully yet passionately, of course breaking the order of the original tracklist to play "Self Esteem" last. After Smash, the Offspring returned to play more of their hits, such as "Why Don't You Get a Job?," "Pretty Fly (For a White Guy)," "Americana," and "The Kids Aren't Alright." By the time they finished their set, a bit before 11pm, the crowd was left shouting for a second encore that would never come.
This event was very well organized and left little break time between bands. Despite the several thousand people that were there, it was still a fun and accommodating experience. What was really powerful about this show (in Philly, at least) is that all four bands who performed were heavy-hitting headliners with almost a century of experience playing music between them. You just can't fuck around with that much talent, professionalism, and dedication- so let's hope another Summer Nationals tour next year.