The Offspring ‘Smash’ New York City With Help From Bad Religion, Pennywise + The Vandals
For two nights in New York City, four veteran punk bands brought Southern California to the East Coast. The Offspring, Bad Religion, Pennywise and the Vandals invaded New York’s shores for an incredible experience that brought fans of all ages to the Terminal 5. On Aug. 5, the 2014 ‘Summer Nationals’ tour hosted all four bands for the second of two nights in the Big Apple. Naturally, we were there to witness it all.
The Vandals kicked off the night with their unique brand of high-energy, comedic punk. There are no weak links on this tour, so the crowd was hot from the first note of ‘It’s a Fact.’ The Vandals jammed fan favorites such as ‘Anarchy Burger (Hold the Government)’ and ‘My Girlfriend’s Dead’ before finishing off their set with a wild rendition of Queen‘s ‘Don’t Stop Me Now,’ which saw guitarist Warren Fitzgerald strip down and entertain the crowd with his vocals, tapping into the psyche of a mental patient.
Pennywise ripped up the stage next, giving fans the heaviest set of the night, ripe with plenty of middle fingers and anti-authoritarian messages. With over 25 years having passed since their formation, Pennywise sounded better than ever, popping the crowd with ‘F— Authority,’ ‘Bro Hymn’ and a surprise cover of Minor Threat’s ‘Minor Threat’ featuring Bad Religion’s Brian Baker, who was a founding member of the D.C. hardcore staple.
When Bad Religion takes the stage, almost no punk act can follow them. We’ve had the pleasure of seeing Bad Religion live more times than we can count, and the band simply never diminishes in quality. Acting as a five-piece, Bad Religion powered through 17 punk rock gems, kicking off with the anthemic ‘Los Angeles is Burning,’ taking a heart-straining turn with ‘Sorrow’ and finishing their air-tight set with the classic ‘American Jesus.’
The crowd went absolutely nuts for Bad Religion, with the exchange of energy between fans and bands hitting dogmatic magnitudes by the end of Bad Religion’s communion. At this point, all we had left was the Offspring, and if you think the style of the Vandals, Pennywise or Bad Religion are destined to elicit a more energetic response than the Offspring’s brand of punk rock, you’re dead wrong.
To celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Offspring’s landmark album ‘Smash,’ the band played the entire album followed by a collection of fan favorites. From the first note of ‘Nitro (Youth Energy),’ the New York crowd exploded with back-to-front, wall-to-wall moshing. The passion exhibited by these fans in the pit was unbelievable, with a tremendous amount of love being sent towards the stage.
Frontman Dexter Holland‘s voice was a bit thin during the set’s commencement, but strengthened as the set progressed, nailing the abrasive highs of ‘Self Esteem,’ ‘Why Don’t You Get a Job?’ and ‘Americana.’ And to the 48-year-old frontman’s credit, he refused to down-tune his songs even half a step to avoid high notes. The Offspring absolutely killed it as a whole, leaving fans buzzing even after rounding off the night with ‘The Kids Aren’t Alright.’
Gazing up and down the three stories of Terminal 5, we saw a group of fans spanning perhaps four or five decades enjoying the show. Looking across the second floor balcony, tons of young teenage fans were singing along to every word of ‘Smash,’ an album that was released long before these kids were born. To truly understand a band’s impact and timelessness, live shows are the apex. When a band’s fan base grows older and younger simultaneously, you’ve got proof of an unquestionable legacy. Much like when we all experienced the Offspring live for the first time (I was 13), the excitement seen in those kid’s faces was a reflection of our own youth. And if the music of the Offspring, Bad Religion, Pennywise or the Vandals still draws youthful elation from kids searching for something different, blood will pump strong through the life of punk rock.