Reviews of shows I've been to (and maybe you have too!)

Summer Nationals Tour @ Pier Six Pavilion (7/30/14)

The only place from which to truly enjoy a punk rock show is right up front. The energy, the emotion, that feeling of “us versus them”, they just don’t translate over large distances. So the staging of the Summer Nationals Tour, featuring the Vandals, Pennywise, Bad Religion and The Offspring, at the Pier Six Pavilion in Baltimore was an odd choice. Even if these bands’ shows have been reduced to nostalgic love fests, without a hint of danger or rebellion, the audience at least still wants to feel like the apocryphal target of the songs remains a target of hate, that revolution is still possible. Pretty hard to convey that feeling with lawn seating and pastoral views.

Show openers The Vandals at least have the type personality and stage show that works well in such a setting, so their set went over perfectly in the setting summer sun. PennywisePennywise then ran through a typically abrasive set, highlighted by a cover of “Minor Threat” played with Brian Baker (formerly of Minor Threat, currently in Bad Religion). However, the contrast of a band singing “Fuck Authority” in one breath, and then worrying about the amount of time left in their set in the next, did seem to crystallize the concert’s paradoxical setting.

After watching the opening sets from far away, we headed backstage before Bad Religion went on, having obtained passes through a work connection. Though the backstage area turned out to be much less glamorous than the mythical status it is normally afforded, our disappointment was ameliorated by a brief meet and greet with Dexter Holland from The Offspring, who was completely down to earth (if not exactly thrilled to be talking with us). He generously offered to let us watch the rest of the show from the stage, an offer we readily accepted.

Unfortunately, it turns out that the acoustics backstage are really quite atrocious. With the speakers and amps aimed at the audience, the only instrument that comes through clearly are the drums, which, given the sound delay coming from the speakers, makes the entire musical performance slightly off-beat. So while Dexter’s gesture to allow us to watch the show from backstage allowed us an amazing experience, one that will likely not be repeated (at least for me), having to listen to the show in that manner was slightly disappointing.

Bad ReligionWe ended up watching the second half of Bad Religion’s set from stage right, where I had a great view of touring guitarist Mike Dimkich and not much else, other than when Greg Graffin decided to stroll in our direction. Strangely, despite the plethora of classic punk band t-shirts I saw, very few audience members seemed to be familiar with the band’s material, with most looking like they were just waiting out yet another opening act. It was nice to see Bad Religion throw in a couple of new songs alongside more standard concert repertoire, including a warp speed run through a cluster of songs from Suffer, while the closing trio of “Infected”, “You” and “American Jesus” were as powerful as ever.

 

The Offspring were celebrating the 20th anniversary of the release of their breakthrough album, Smash, by playing the entire thing straight through. It was definitely great to hear deep album cuts like “What Happened to You?” and “Genocide” get played live, probably for the first time in decades. Meanwhile, standards “Come Out and Play” and “Self-Esteem” were received as rapturously as they have been for the past two decades.

The OffspringGuitarist Noodles bounded throughout the show from front to back, left to right, while Holland continuously stalked across the stage, playing to the crowd but never losing a somewhat distant, yet authoritative, posture. After finishing with Smash, the band kicked through an uneven second set of some of their best known material, with an unfortunate version of “Why Don’t You Get a Job?” redeemed by stronger tracks like “Americana” and “You’re Gonna Go Far, Kid.” By the time they closed with a rampaging version of “The Kids Aren’t Alright,” it was clear that the energy at the venue had finally been raised to a sufficient level, regardless of where you were sitting.

Vandals setlist:

  1. It’s a Fact
  2. Cafe 405
  3. And Now We Dance
  4. Take It Back
  5. People That Are Going to Hell
  6. I’ve Got an Ape Drape
  7. I Know, Huh?
  8. Oi to the World
  9. Anarchy Burger (Hold the Government)
  10. My Girlfriend’s Dead
  11. Don’t Stop Me Now (Queen cover)

Pennywise setlist:

  1. Pennywise
  2. My Own Country
  3. Unknown Road
  4. Peaceful Day
  5. Same Old Story
  6. Restless Time
  7. Minor Threat (Minor Threat cover)
  8. Perfect People
  9. Fuck Authority
  10. Society
  11. Blitzkrieg Bop (Ramones cover)
  12. Bro Hymn

Bad Religion setlist:

  1. Fuck You
  2. Los Angeles Is Burning
  3. I Want to Conquer the World
  4. 21st Century (Digital Boy)
  5. Stranger Than Fiction
  6. Sometimes It Feels Like
  7. Recipe for Hate
  8. True North
  9. Sanity
  10. Wrong Way Kids
  11. Sorrow
  12. You Are (The Government)
  13. 1000 More Fools
  14. Best for You
  15. Do What You Want
  16. Infected
  17. You
  18. American Jesus

The Offspring setlist:

  1. Time to Relax
  2. Nitro (Youth Energy)
  3. Bad Habit
  4. Gotta Get Away
  5. Genocide
  6. Something to Believe In
  7. Come Out and Play
  8. It’ll Be a Long Time
  9. Killboy Powerhead (The Didjits cover)
  10. What Happened to You?
  11. So Alone
  12. Not the One
  13. Smash
  14. Self Esteem
  15. All I Want
  16. You’re Gonna Go Far, Kid
  17. Slim Pickens Does the Right Thing and Rides the Bomb to Hell
  18. Staring at the Sun
  19. Why Don’t You Get a Job?
  20. Americana
  21. (Can’t Get My) Head Around You
  22. Pretty Fly (For a White Guy)
  23. The Kids Aren’t Alright

 

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