A few months ago we got the news that The Offspring would be hitting the road on The Let the Bad Times Road tour and it would kick off in SoCal. Last week, the traveling musical circus landed at FivePoint Amphitheatre featuring SUM41, Simple Plan, and Orange County’s favorite sons, The Offspring.
The day started like most big shows at FivePoint; a line was already forming by the time doors opened. It was a festival atmosphere, and as the crowd filed in, it was clear this would be a packed house. Immediately, the grounds were filled with concertgoers taking to the food and drinks where they were congregating to gather themselves to dive into the venue when it was time.
As the sun slowly descended, SUM41 took to the stage. I was amazed how quickly the crowd rushed in once the music started. With Canadian flags being waved by the early birds, Deryck Whibley rushed the stage and the band got into it with “Motivation” and “The Hell Song.” As soon as the flow started, fans acknowledged the electricity SUM41 brought FivePoint.
Whibley thanked everyone for coming out, and then he looked down at the semi-mosh pit that had formed and said there are some “crazy motherfuckers here tonight!” They launched into a quick barrage of their standard high-energy infusion with “Over My head (Better Off Dead)” and “We’re All to Blame,” before the crowd lost their proverbial minds.
Giving the crowd a second to take a deep breath, he dedicated the next song to “the crazy motherfuckers in the crowd” and the band that inspired them as kids, Rage Against the Machine. Being the guitar heroes they are, the distinct guitar riff to “Sleep Now in the Fire” took over the PA system, and the crowd erupted. It was borderline deafening. It was a surreal moment as SUM41 played a hellafied version of the song and gave the crowd an epic experience; it really was quite the sight and sound to take in.
Being they were an opener, they were given time for an abbreviated set, which was a shame, because they sound great. Next up were their mega-hits that made them household names, “In Too Deep” followed by “Fat Lip.” Then, the guys took an impromptu early bow and thanked everyone for coming out and closed to “Still Waiting.”
Another pleasant surprise was how quickly the FivePoint staff and band crew got the stage ready for Simple Plan. Quickly, the Canucks were onstage, and the Canadian flags were out again for Simple Plan. The band has been around for the greater part of two decades, and being a seasoned act, the crowd was way familiar with them. Lead singer Pierre Bouvier yelled out “Hello Irvine” as they opened with an animated version of “I’ll Do Anything,” immediately followed by “Shut Up!”
By now the sun was almost fully set and the stage lighting really kicked in, giving the night an even cooler feel to the show. The crowd sang along to “Jump,” “Addicted,” and “Welcome to My Life” before Bouvier let them breathe.
Every member of Simple Plan were fully engaged and immersed in connecting with the crowd. Everyone was feeding off the crowd and the crowd fed off their every move and song.
They launched into “Iconic” ahead of a kick-ass melody that included “All Star,” “Sk8er Boi,” and “Mr. Brightside,” all covers that sounded beyond good. As a jealous sun gave way to an eager moon, the night got especially weirder as they went into “What’s New Scooby Doo,” which put a smile on everyone’s face.
The rest of the set was electric and fans were almost jumping out of their seats to “Where I Belong” and “I’m Just a Kid,” before they called it a night to “Perfect,” which was perfect for their loyal followers.
Finally, the moon was nestled high over FivePoint with the concert drone and fans were poised for their hometown heroes. Like the last intermission, the crew did a marvelous job of getting the stage ready, and with funny messaging behind the drum kit.
The crowd erupted as the lights dimmed. As the familiar sound of “Come Out and Play” filled the amphitheater, everyone was on their feet.
The Offspring came out with energy and they were amped to say the least. Maybe it was having some time off to get ready for this tour, but the guys sounded sharp; front-man Dexter Holland’s voice was booming, guitarist Noodles was on fire and they looked great onstage. It really was as if Father Time tapped them on the shoulder and said “let’s do this!” With all the energy in the air, Holland led the band into an epic set that included larger-than-life songs that made them the band they are, “All I Want,” a kick-ass keyboard starting version of “Want You Bad,” then “Let the Bad Times Roll,” and “Original Prankster” got a loud ovation from everyone.
That’s the thing that came to me when they played this song. I spoke with Holland and Noodles a while back. We discussed the music new and not so new. They both said they are always pleasantly surprised at who comes to their shows and how they know every word to every song. They are equally pleased to see younger and newer fans that are finding them for the first time so engaged in the music. That made me smile as when I looked around my seating section, I noticed it was a mixed bag of age groups, all screaming out lyrics as if it was a re-run of “The Ed Sullivan Show” for the second coming of The Beatles. Then again, I think that reference gives my age away.
As the night went on, Holland and Noodle liked to banter back and forth, and expressed how happy they were to be playing a hometown show. Then boom, back into it with the hit parade, “Hit That,” “Hammerhead,” “Bad Habit,” then their kick-ass melody of “Iron Man” / “The Trooper” / “Sweet Child O’ Mine” / “In the Hall of the Mountain King.” OK not “Sharknado” involved but this sounded great. What sounded even tighter was their cover of the Ramones classic, “Blitzkrieg Bop.”
The crowd flew into another level of frenzy to “Gotta Get Away,” followed by “Gone Away,” “Why Don’t You Get a Job?,” “(Can’t Get My) Head Around You,” “Pretty Fly (For a White Guy),” and they closed with “The Kids Are Alright.”
Finally the curtain came down, so-to-speak, but the crowd wanted more and like good showmen, you give the crowd what they want. The guys came out and played an encore set that centered around “You’re Gonna Go Far Kid,” and finishing off the night with “Self Esteem.”
It was a night to remember; SUM41, Simple Plan, and The Offspring put on an epic night of music, and the tour continues. Catch them wherever you can; this is definitely not an “E Ticket” ride – you may have to be over 40 to get that.