|Bryan “Dexter” Holland and Kevin “Noodles” Wasserman of the Offspring perform at Pacific Amphitheatre on Friday, July 11, 2014. Photo credit: Kelly A. Swift|
Published: July 12, 2014 Updated: 3:31 p.m.
The arrival of the Orange County Fair also means the welcome return of the Pacific Amphitheatre summer concert series. Launching this summer's lineup on Friday night, July 11, 2014, was an O.C.-only bill featuring the one-two punch of the Adolescents and headlining Offspring.
The night provided a unique opportunity to see two of the region's seminal punk rock artists, with Fullerton's influential Adolescents (formed back in 1980) still blasting out its political-minded hardcore sound.
As for the Offspring, the band drew a sold-out and totally engaged crowd to help the group celebrate its 30th anniversary – and, more specifically – the 20th anniversary of the Huntington Beach heroes' commercial breakthrough “Smash” that was released in 1994 and has reportedly sold more than 20 million copies worldwide since its release.
The staying power of the Offspring was obvious beyond the full house, with a wide-ranging crowd including kids, teens, Millennials, Generation Xers and Baby Boomers all cheering on singer-guitarist Dexter Holland and company as they unleashed their hits throughout the 70-minute set.
The first part of the band's set focused on a performance of “Smash,” with highlights coming early and often. “Gotta Get Away” boasted a powerful three guitar attack with Holland and Kevin “Noodles” Wasserman joined by a touring member locked into the hard-edged groove. The follow-up offering, “Genocide,” offered the group a good chance to showcase the hardest elements of its sound.
But to be sure, the night was a festive affair via the Offspring's faithful and energetic delivery of their long parade of hits. “Come Out and Play” exploded with the house lights going up to show the crowd on its feet and singing along while a full moon shone in the sky; the band's signature mix of pop-punk and melodic alt rock was thrust into arena rock with the big sound of “Self Esteem” (I even spied a couple of people nearby holding their lighters up, something previously unseen by this writer at a punk show). “Pretty Fly (For a White Guy)” was another standout, with the crowd enjoying the sheer fun of the night while the Offspring itself performed the song with powerful precision.
Holland's mighty voice and personable stage presence were put in the spotlight on the satirical “You're Gonna Go Far, Kid,” while the sheer power of the band (that also includes bassist Greg K. and drummer Pete Parada) was unleashed on “(Can't Get My) Head Around You” and the furious night-ending take on “The Kids Aren't Alright.”
The Adolescents, who opened the show with a 30-minute politically charged attack on everything from police brutality to the San Onofre Nuclear Power Plant, were likely more suited for a small music club. Few in the Pac Amp stood during the band's set, despite the potent vocals of original singer Tony Cadena and raw power of the band (which includes original bassist Steve Soto as well).
Several of the outfit’s songs were especially powerful, including “Lockdown America” and a blistering version of the group's 1980 track “Amoeba.”