The Offspring jolts east Idaho with a blast of rock energy
OK, so, hear me out on this. The Offspring are kind of like the Credence Clearwater Revival of punk rock — not stylistically, but in the sense that they’ve written so many great songs that you know, even if sometimes you don’t realize they wrote those songs. Sitting through The Offspring’s live show brought feelings similar to hearing a CCR greatest hits record for the first time, with lots of “They wrote this song? I LOVE this song! I didn’t realize they wrote this song.”
The Offspring dropped in on the Eastern Idaho State Fair in Blackfoot on Thursday night to play a set filled with beloved modern punk rock anthems. Fans swayed, pogoed up and down and sang along as the band tore through a set that, for the most part, was fast, loud and energetic.
Veteran local band The Opskamatrists kicked things off. The band blasted through a bunch of bouncy, catchy tunes that mixed pop, punk and swing. They even pulled off a pretty great cover of Billy Idol’s “White Wedding.”
Another Opskamatrists highlight was “Nothing is Something,” a song so ridiculously catchy that even someone hearing the band for the first time, like me, was able to sing along by the second chorus. The Opskamatrists brought a sense of energy and great fun and got the crowd warmed up for the headliner.
The crowd got even more hyped when it was announced during the between-set changeover that their attendance had helped make this show on this night the biggest audience for an east Idaho rock ‘n’ roll show in 15 years. They also got a chance to tune up their singing pipes when Weezer’s “Undone (The Sweater Song)” played on the P.A. system.
The Offspring came out with a bang, opening with “Americana” and from there, they rarely slowed down. Show highlights included:
- Lead singer Dexter Holland and guitarist Kevin “Noodles” Wasserman bantering back and forth about not wanting to use profanity in front of a family crowd and recruiting the audience to fill in the curse words.
- The beach balls released during “Why Don’t You Get a Job?,” which turned what is a fun, bouncy tune to begin with into a veritable beach party.
- Touring bassist Todd Morse looking like the coolest rock star ever. Seriously, why do bass players always look so cool on stage?
- A scorching cover of AC/DC’s “Whole Lotta Rosie.”
- That gorgeous sunburst Ibanez guitar that Noodles was wielding at several points during the show.
- Hearing the crowd sing along with great tunes like “Want You Bad” and “Come Out and Play.”
- The one-two punch of the show-closing encore tunes “You’re Gonna Go Far, Kid” and “Self Esteem.”
The most memorable moment came when they wheeled out a piano, and Dexter Holland took the stage alone for a devastatingly affecting piano-driven version of “Gone Away.” This plaintive take on The Offspring’s song about losing someone close to you showed a side of the band I’d not seen before. By the time Dexter’s bandmates joined him onstage to bring the tune to a close, my eyes were welling up with tears. I’m not ashamed to admit that.
The Offspring’s oeuvre offers something for just about any fan of rock music. Songs like “Self Esteem” have guitar riffs that appeal to metalheads, the songs have enough raw energy to draw in punk fans, and the tunes are catchy enough to get everyone else singing along.
This all was on full display during the show. The songs were fast, energetic and had enough “whoa-ohs” and “yeah-yeah” that even the most casual fan in attendance could participate in the show.
Dexter and Noodles remarked several times how much they were digging the energy of the east Idaho audience. It did seem like this show was something special. Perhaps it had something to do with the fact that we don’t get many big rock shows that come through here. When we do get a big show, we make sure to make it count and give the performers onstage as much love as they give us. That love of loud rock music was all over the place Thursday night, and it made The Offspring one of the brightest highlights of my summer.