Stop-and-go afterwork traffic lined the way out to Cruzan Amphitheatre Friday night. The road was packed with people out to see Stiff Little Fingers, Pennywise, Bad Religion, and the Offspring on a balmy summer night.
Surprisingly, the lawn was closed off and only seats-seats were available. Well, seats and the most important area of the evening, the moshing section. Before buying our $16 tacos but after buying booze, we walked to our spot and found only a fence separating us from the pit, but we had a few veterans in our group that could handle the onslaught of sweaty slamming bodies on their way.
Irish punks Stiff Little Fingers opened the night to a small but eager crowd. The band jammed hard and proved that age clearly is nothing but a number by running around the stage just like little kids. After hearing songs like "Nobody's Hero" and "When We Were Young," we were pretty sure they also sounded this good back in 1977. After a quick introduction of band members and a final tune, the group left the stage and made way for Pennywise.
The Cali-bred band really got the moshers going. But don't be fooled by the pit's seemingly violent reputation. When someone stumbled to the ground, there was always more than one person ready to pick the fallen up. There was a feeling of camaraderie. "Am I good?" one muscular dude said to his friends, popping out temporarily. "Can I keep going?" He was bleeding from his eyebrow, the wound looked like it might need stitches. "Nah, man, you're good," his friend said while the rest nodded. The injured dude jumped right back in with a smile.
There was one song where we couldn't understand anything but a couple of "fucks" and enthusiastic middle fingers, but we sang along as much as we could anyways. Jim Lindberg did the corny "is the left side or right side louder" thing, but no one cared -- audience members enthusiastically screamed. "There's no excuse! Go fucking nuts!" Lindberg said, prompting even more yells before playing "Society." "Bro Hymn" was the final song of the set that got everyone clapping and yelling.
Bad Religion then took the stage and prompted even more of the same activities. A man in a wheelchair-like device joined in on the festivities when he was lifted up, throwing up the devil horns with his hand. Hits like "Sorrow" were played and the band acknowledged a dude's request for the song "You" when he held up his phone with the flashing words "Please Play You" on it.
Finally, it was time for the Offspring. The set kicked off with the infamous tune "Time to Relax," a recording parodying relaxation tapes. However, after the smooth talking voice told audience members to relax and enjoy the show, it then corrected itself by saying, "Just kidding! You're here to fuck shit up!"
The Offspring opened to the glee of the amphitheater with "Nitro (Youth Energy)" from their 1994 album Smash. "Bad Habit," "Gotta Get Away," and "Genocide" came on soon after with the skeleton logo from the infamous album proudly displayed in the background.
And proudly it should be displayed. Smash catapulted the Offspring's career and is credited to bringing punk rock to the real mainstream in the 1990s. It also doesn't hurt that the album sold 20 million copies worldwide, solidifying it as the best-selling album on an independent label. This year marks its 20th year anniversary, so it was fitting that the band played it in its entirety, almost in order.
"We got a hot crowd out here tonight!" singer Dexter Holland yelled after finishing "Something to Believe In." "A fucking sexy crowd," added in the guitarist, Noodles. And with that, the Offspring launched into "Come Out and Play," which you all know the lyrics to.
After performing the rest of the album, the band performed "Self Esteem." Throughout all this, the mosh pit didn't cease and there was some added crowd surfing. At this point, we were soaked with rain, sweat, and the beer that got thrown in our faces, occasionally. It was awesome.
After the fastest intermission ever, the Offspring played "Americana" and things got even faster and more frenetic out there with synchronized yelling: "Fuck you!" Things slowed down a bit temporarily with "Why Don't You Get a Job" but picked up speed again with "You're Gonna Go Far Kid." After the hilarious "Pretty Fly (For a White Guy)," the concert ended with "The Kids Aren't Alright." But a quick look around showed us they were doing just fine.
The Offspring Setlist
"Nitro (Youth Energy)"
"Gotta Get Away"
"Something to Believe In"
"Come Out and Play"
"It'll Be a Long Time"
"Killboy Powerhead (Didjits cover)"
"What Happened to You?"
"Not the One"
"All I Want"
"(Can't Get My) Head Around You"
"Why Don't You Get a Job"
"You're Gonna Go Far, Kid"
"Pretty Fly For a White Guy"
"The Kids Aren't Alright"