30 years later and the California punk band still has it. Mostly
The Offspring can still pull them in.
Fairgoers tore themselves away from the Tilt-A-Whirl and deep fried chocolate bars for a few hours to pack the grandstand at the Saskatoon Ex for the entirety of the California punk band’s show.
There, they were treated to more sugar – a set that contained all hits, including several songs off Smash, the 1994 album that introduced The Offspring to the rest of the world and popularized the next underground wave of punk that had long been simmering on the American west coast.
Apparently Canadian stalwarts Our Lady Peace couldn’t even get a crowd like that at last year’s Ex. Not that I was there… a friend told me.
Even so, now that they are crossing the line into “nostalgia” territory, The Offspring haven’t slowed down much since they first formed in 1984. Do the math: they’ve been a band for 30 years. Three decades.
That obviously didn’t deter those up front from going ape-shit. Songs like “Come Out And Play” still carry a lot of weight, inspiring a whole lot of fist pumping and chorus singalongs, even for those tucked safely away in the bandstand.
It still doesn’t compare to their first Saskatoon appearance in 1997 at the Centennial Auditorium (or whatever it’s called now). Back then the band had cross-dressers on stage and gave several children in the audience cigars – a friend of ours actually started smoking after being handed said cigar because, obviously, it was the cool thing to do.
But front man Dexter Holland can still howl, and his sidekick Noodles can still shred. Even the angst of the lyrics has aged well. Like a fine whine.
For the most part anyway.
The Offspring have always had something of a dichotomy when it comes to songwriting. On one hand, the band can still pen a mean snarling mash of punk vitriol, a literal middle finger that is powered by teenage broodiness and anarchic fury.
Then you have songs like “Pretty Fly For A White Guy”.
For all their anger and spit, The Offspring have similarly produced a cadre of goofy ambling pop songs that largely make up a parade of radio fodder.
Even so, the band’s set was a mixed bag, including a couple of ditties from their latest album Days Go By, which is about as good any LP they’ve produced since Ixnay on the Hombre. Take that how you will.
And the encore? “Self Esteem” of course, a moody trip back to high school when jocks used to beat up the skater kids who wore punk shirts. Unlike the food at the Ex, nostalgia is typically served bittersweet.
The best part? It was all over at the decent hour of 10pm so us old balls in the audience could still get home at a decent hour on a work night.