Punk rock is a young man’s game.
It started as a youth movement after all, and has always been defined by the sort brashness (and crassness) that comes with growing up – but not being a grown up.
So, what happens when punk bands start to age?
In the case of The Offspring, not much, if the band’s scorching set at The Big Fresno Fair is any indication.
It was 80-minutes of fist-pumping, sing-along punk rock played to a packed Paul Paul Theater. The set seemed to end too soon, proving that while the band may have lost a bit of youthful energy, it hasn’t lost its punch.
The band leaned heavily on its hits, playing through everything you’d want to hear, unless you were expecting some deep cuts or the song from “Sharknado 4,” which I was kinda hoping for, to be honest.
This was all pick-scratches, whoa-ohs and f-bombs. In true punk form, the band moved from song to song without much interruption. When they did address the audience – in the middle and at the end of the show – it was with full appreciation of the fans and Fresno.
“You mother f---kers and f--kin sexy.”
That came from the band’s guitarist, a guy named Noodles, who looks like Gary Busey playing Buddy Holly in a Ramones T-shirt, which is a total compliment and makes the guitar lines on “Spare me the Details” seem that much more inspired.
Noodles came on the stage bouncing around like Tigger and kept that up until the end.
Which left singer Dexter Holland looking a bit lethargic. He made of for it with his vocal prowess, which was every bit as point and solid as it was in the ’90s. As evidence, I’d offer “Gone Away” and “You’re Gonna Go Far Kid.” Holland is the sound of The Offspring and he held up.
For my tastes, the band was at its best when at its fastest, playing straight-head punk beats on songs like “Bad Habit.”
▪ I still think “Self Esteem” sounds like Nirvana.
▪ I totally forgot they had that song that rips of the Beatles.
▪ There were moments when it sounded like the band had some backing tracks – for added synth sounds and the like. It was especially obvious, though arguably warranted, on the backing vocals for “Pretty Fly (For a White Guy).”
▪ Someone in the crowd really did scream out for the band to play “Free Bird.” No, man. Just. No.
▪ Bless their hearts, the kids two seats down from me covered their noses with T-shirts to keep out the smell of second hand pot smoked.