The Offspring was late, and the crowd was growing restless. “What the (expletive)?” asked one aging hard-rock fan. Finally, a half hour later, the lights in George Mason’s Patriot Center went dim, and guitar music started.
A massive shout erupted from the audience, resembling a middle school dance gone awry and a 15-year reunion for Allenstown High School. The music came hard and fast, and barely stopped until the show had ended just after midnight.
The Offspring is not noted for its technical ability, artistic creativity, stage presence, or musical diversity, but it has energy. Lots of it. The group plays with a “take no prisoners” style that sends guitar riff after guitar riff mixed with screaming lyrics, a steady bass line and “no apologies” drumming cascading on to the heads of fans.
As if to validate the band’s status as a symbol of youthful revolt, guitarist and lead vocalist Dexter Holland began the show with a barrage of swears. Later he asked, “Do we have any parents here tonight? This one goes out to you guys – it’s called “Kill Your Parents.”
Other songs included a lot of older radio favorites, such as “Come Out and Play,” “Gotta Get Away,” “Self-esteem” and “Cession.”
After the trip down The Offspring memory lane and a quick break, the band continued with songs from their new album, Americana. Among those were its two newest singles “Pretty Fly (For a White Guy)” and “Why Don’t You Get a Job.”
Most of the songs on the set list featured energetic guitar and drums as well as lyrics that felt like a slap in the face, but The Offspring failed to transform its energy into anything more than that. While the music has good choruses, it has nothing more than that. The group is not creative, innovative, interesting or anything except energetic.
The music it played at the show sounded the same as it does on the band’s albums, but that does not matter. The audience members at The Offspring show did not go to hear jams. They went to see the band, and the band delivered. Its four members get on stage and play their music and hurl swears at the teenage crowd, and everyone is happy.
In fact, the audience is ecstatic. Concert-goers tore apart a shirt that a band member threw into the fray. Afterwards, fans who had been lucky to get a scrap walked away cherishing the fragments like they were ancient relics.
And for its part, The Offspring appreciated its audience. The band threw Americana T-shirts out to fans, even slingshotting a couple into the back rows of the complex.
The Offspring, like the punk music from which it derives so much of its inspiration, is nothing more than four semi-musicians with a lot of energy penned up inside. An Offspring concert is a chance for fans to vent all their frustration, anger, confusion and anything else they’ve got locked up inside.