I don't really like big festivals. The huge stages and the crowds don't fit with punk rock in my opinion, and I much prefer smaller club shows. There are some bands though, and Offspring is of course one of those, that I will never see live in such a setting.
So here I am again, almost eleven years after the last time I saw them, not really knowing what to expect but still healthily skeptical (â€œbe optimist, but prepared for the worstâ€. I swear I read this in some survival guide). The area is big but almost full (7.000 people, the newspaper tells me): there's the late 90's-early 00's fans I used to see at the time, there's a few (very few) older ones, and many younger guys, which surprises me a little. Alas, they were most likely the ones enjoying the most terrible Offspring songs.
The event is sponsored by big brands, which is hardly news but still takes some of the fun away and contributes to the feeling of being no more than and involuntary actor in a big commercial. But whatever.
Good Riddance opened the night with their rough melodic hardcore. Part of crowd was going wild already and singing most of the songs, but the sounds were muffled, as is bound to happen in these situations, and I doubt someone who didn't know them could have understood enough to fall in love. From what I could make out their set was tight, except perhaps for Russ's voice which wasn't as clear and powerful as it is on record.
Next up was Pennywise, and all the fans know what their shows are like: same songs, same old story, great energy and a real punk rock party. I was pretty excited and they didn't disappoint. Fast and relentless, nothing new of course but what they do they do damn well, and the pit was exploding from the beginning to the end. â€œStraight aheadâ€ drove me crazy, and the cover of the night was Nirvana's â€œTerritorial Pissingâ€ - not the most original of choices, but perfect for making the audience go even wilder. They played â€œSomething to changeâ€, off â€œFrom the ashesâ€, which I didn't expect, and ended with... but you know it already. Great show, except for a few songs when Jim seemed to have lost his voice (and be pretty pissed off about it). They stick to their formula and the fans enjoy it. Everyone wins.
The fact with the Offspring is that they have lots of very good punk rock songs, that I love, but also some very, very bad ones, which are the ones they are most famous for. This threatens to spoil their concerts, whose quality, from my point of view, depends largely on the setlist. They opened with â€œYou're gonna go far, kidâ€, a mediocre song at best and a terrible opener. What the fuck did they have in mind? The show was good, they can play (well, except for Greg maybe, who has to be one of the most boring bass payers in punk rock), Dexter's voice was there, Pete Parada is a fun drummer, all fine, but nineteen songs is definitely not too much, and they could have chosen better. â€œWhy don't you get a jobâ€ is unfortunately very famous and I was half expecting it, but â€œKristie, are you doing OKâ€? â€œHit thatâ€? Please. And to think their latest album â€œDays go byâ€ is actually pretty good, and they didn't play anything off it (nor, obviously, from the first two), choosing instead more or less the usual hits. That is not to say I didn't enjoy the show at all â€“ some songs on â€œAmericanaâ€ still get me, as does the live staple â€œAll I wantâ€, and the pit was ferocious and fun â€“ but it seems, as I was saying above, that the crowd they attract has different tastes than mine. The band plays for them, and I have to take it or leave it.
(In their defense I have to say I that setlist.fm tells me I was probably unlucky too, song-choice-wise. I guess this happens when you only see a band once a decade, better luck next time?)