The Offspring smash Pittsburgh’s Stage AE Aug31

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The Offspring smash Pittsburgh’s Stage AE

It’s hard to believe that it has been 20 years already since alternative, pop/punk rockers The Offspring released their seminal masterpiece Smash. In honor of that monumental milestone, the band is out on the road, with Bad Religion, Pennywise and The Vandals, playing the album in its entirety.

Even more impressive, is the fact that lead singer Dexter Holland, guitarist Noodles and bassist Greg K. Look and sound exactly like they did twenty years ago and they recently played a sold out outdoor show at Pittsburgh’s premier concert venue- Stage AE- and the capacity crowd partied like it was 1994 all over again.

Huntington Beach natives The Vandals kicked off the proceedings with a powerhouse set of their unique brand of ska/skatepunk and despite being the first band on the docket and the sun still being up, they played to a very enthusiastic packed crowd.

They plowed through classics like “It’s A Fact,” “Cafe 405” and “Take It Back,” pausing only long enough for vocalist Dave Quakenbush to say, “It’s Punk, move around a little and do whatever the fuck you want.” Jokingly adding “Bad Religion is going to hell for sure,” before “People That Are Going To Hell.”

The band was extremely tight and sounded fantastic, but it was Quakenbush’s comical one liners like, “This next one features a twenty five minute drum solo and then we’re all going home. Fuck you people, I’m tired,” before “I Know, Huh?” or “Fuck you people, you don’t buy shirts or nothing,” before “Anarchy Burger (Hold The Goverment),” that stole the show.

Thankfully melodic punk rockers Pennywise were more than up to the task at hand and mere seconds into their set, the crowd erupted into a massive circlepit. The band was at the top of their game, as they delivered a super high octane set of powerhouse punk anthems and lead singer Jim Lindberg was quite comical in his own right.

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From there, they kicked out a killer cover of the Ramone’s classic “Bitzkrieg Bop” that garnered the biggest crowd response of the day so far and a circle pit to match. Lindberg dedicated “Perfect People” to all the imperfect people who like to drink beer and eat pizza, before going into a rant that preceded “Fuck Authority.”

At it’s conclusion Lindberg asked the crowd to shout out what they wanted to hear next, picking “Society” out of the melee of titles, then jokingly adding, “This one was next on the list anyway, so it’s gonna seem like we planned this shit.” At this point guitarist Fletcher Dragge took to the mic to say “I got 99 problems, but a lack of alcohol is not one. Let’s hear it for my liver.”

That was the signal for closing anthem “Bro Hymn,” which brought the house down, as impassioned fans took full advantage of their last chance to mosh, surf, jump, or scream at the top of their lungs. The bar had just been raised a little bit higher and the fans were now primed and ready for living legends Bad Religion.

Finally, living icons Bad Religion delivered the first, full on, no nonsense, straight up punk set of the evening- a set dripping aggression and hatred of authority. From the opening note of “Generator,” it was absolute insanity in front of the stage, as crowd surfers poured over the barricades and oceans of mosh pits ensued.

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At this point, only one thing could possibly top that and they had saved it for last by design. “American Jesus” is one of the greatest punk anthems ever written and the diehard fans had been waiting for it all night. It caused utter pandemonium and security could no longer keep up as all hell broke lose. Now that was everything a great punk show should be and the night was far from over, with The Offspring still to come.

At last, the moment had arrived and the band everyone came to see took control of the stage and the crowd. It is a testament to the popularity and strength of the band that they had gone from being the opener for bands like Bad Religion and The Vandals, to those bands now opening for them and their stunning live performances are the reason why.

The opening notes of “Nitro (Youth Energy)” sent the now psychotic fans into a visceral unhinged frenzy and they all belted out the words to classics like “Bad Habit,” “Gotta Get Away” and “Come Out And Play” so loudly that frontman Dexter Holland really didn’t have to and were literally loud enough to drown out the massive volume levels coming from the band.

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The band took a very brief intermission before coming out to play a set of some of their biggest hits and just when you thought the crowd had run out of steam, they surprised you with another overwhelming surge of raw energy. There was even a pretty intense girl fight out on the lawn during “Why Don’t You Get A Job.” Holland again got big laughs when he prefaced “Pretty Fly (For A White Guy)” by saying, “Hey Pittsburgh guess what, everyone is gonna get laid tonight.”

They again briefly exited the stage, before returning for the encores of “Americana” and “The Kids Aren’t Alright.” Both songs garnered a massive audience response, more manic than a meth binge. At their conclusion, Holland announced, “We will be hanging out at our merch booth signing shit and having a drink with the good people of Pittsburgh, so please join us.”

Pretty much everyone did and by the time they left, everyone, including the swaying girl who puked into her own beer, was thoroughly entertained and it was all captured on video by the drones that had been flying overhead all night long.

-Eric Hunker