Punk was once underground. Bands played in grungy, rat-infested clubs, and forget hearing the music on the radio. Twenty years ago, that all changed. The Offspring, Bad Religion, and Pennywise are three Southern California bands signed to the same Epitaph record label that helped bring this subversive sound to the masses.
It's only fitting they're touring enormous venues together this summer, even if they took completely different routes to get to this level of success.
The Offspring is a group of Huntington Beach natives who, along with Green Day, pushed punk to heavy rotation on MTV. Videos for "Come Out and Play," "Self Esteem," and "Pretty Fly (For a White Guy)" are a major reason why piercings and dyed hair spread like an aggressive rash throughout suburbia.
Bad Religion, from Los Angeles, had a longer route toward success, probably because it chose to wear its politics on its sleeve, with each of its 16 albums being a manifesto. It wasn't until its eighth record, Stranger Than Fiction, that it was invited on the Late Show With David Letterman and snagged a coveted spot opening for Pearl Jam.
Hermosa Beach's Pennywise was able to capitalize on its label mates' trailblazing punk rock in the mainstream. It's sold more than 3 million records, making it one of the most successful independent punk acts of all time. But success does not always breed happiness. As singer Jim Lindberg recently told L.A. Weekly, it was only a return to basics that brought the band back to artistic fulfillment. "I think the last couple of records we did together were overproduced," he said in perfect punk fashion. "We lost the spirit that we have live, and we got pasteurized somewhat. This is beach punk... Mic the instruments, sing until your voice is raw, and put it out!"
Catch all three acts this weekend on their Summer Nationals tour.
The Summer Nationals Tour with the Offspring, Bad Religion, and Pennywise. 6:30 p.m. Friday, August 15, at Cruzan Amphitheatre, 601-7 Sansbury's Way, West Palm Beach. Tickets cost $25 to $51 plus fees. Call 561-795-8883, or visit livenation.com.