Photographs by Matt Klopot.
When a band plays an album live front to back, you know what to expect, right? Right? Celebrating 20 years since the release of their indie breakout Smash, The Offspring gave exactly what the crowd wanted. Eclipsing their California skate punk origins as the stadium rock band they’ve become, the show was a thundering rumble of sound and light. With the force (and subtlety) of a sledgehammer, they delivered a powerhouse 70 minute set of hit after hit.
In a customary nod, the gig began with the iconic spoken word intro Time to Relax, before twisting it into a wry subversion. “Who am I kidding?” The words rolled out “You guys didn’t come here to relax, you came to fuck shit up!” The machine gun drumming of Nitro set the crowd ablaze as the band pogoed up and down like hyperactive children. However far they’ve travelled from their beginnings, you can’t fault them on their gusto. 20 years in the spotlight have honed them into prime showmen, playing the crowd with ease. Lead guitarist Noodles wastes no time busting out a solo, one knee atop a handy dais. Lead singer Dexter hits every note with practiced precision, though with the crowd echoing each line like a ghostly reverb he probably could have just lip-synched to the similar effect.
The breakneck pace continues throughout the whole album. The crowd is charged, frenzied and soaking up every ounce of atmosphere. All around me there’s a festive air and it’s obvious that while the audience is physically present, they’ve been cast back to the memory of Come Out And Play’s iconic bassline blaring from their Walkman. When it kicks in the crowd goes ballistic and I swear the ground shudders. The anthemic Didjits cover Killboy Powerhead finds me in the middle of a fist flying circle dance, while the album’s namesake Smash finds the crowd roaring with glee, roaming spotlights lighting up the surging swell of fans.
Taking a brief intermission for a quick chug of beer, the band returns for a checklist of hits. Americana, Why Don’t You Get a Job?, You’re Gonna Go Far, Kid and Pretty Fly for a White Guy all make an appearance, set to flashing blue and red strobes over the backdrop of the band’s iconic flaming skull. The audience is lapping up every breath and by the time closer The Kids Aren’t Alright draws to a close, it’s a wonder they’re still standing. 20 years from their breakout, time shows its passing; they may have started in a garage, but The Offspring owned the stage as blazing stars.