There are some bands that have managed to capture the social environment they came from into their music. Black Sabbath is the soundtrack of ’70s England’s industrial midlands; Nirvana was the embodiment of the inward focused youth of ’90s Seattle; and The Offspring are California’s Orange County beach/punk culture turned into 3 minute slices of sonic gold. Equal parts of rebellion, humour and energy collide in The Offspring, making them one of life’s guilty pleasures.
A 30+ degree night at the sold out and packed Palace sees the band back in town and celebrating the 20th anniversary of their breakthrough album ‘Ignition’ with a double set performance. The band takes the stage just after 9.30pm and launches into their ‘Ignition’ set, playing all the album tracks in order. A minimal stage setting and lighting helps create a ‘retro’ feel for the 40 minute stampede through the set, and even though the crowd is hot and sweaty before a note is played the punters are clearly determined to get a whole lot more sweaty. Highlight of the first set is ‘Dirty Magic’ and the Palace is jumping by the time the final notes of ‘Forever and a Day’ ring out. Noodles announces they are heading backstage “where the strippers and cocaine are” and band and fans both take a 15 minute breather to prepare for part 2.
Some quick work by the crew brings the lighting back into the present, and ‘All I Want’ opens set two in burning style. Over the next 60 minutes the band roll through the albums and the years, even including two tracks from 2012’s “Days Go By” album (the title track and ‘Slim Pickens…’). The whole band is as polished as you’d expect from veteran musicians like this and Dexter and Noodles are in fine form and voice. Both clearly enjoy and feed off the vibe from an audience that’s eating up everything on offer. When they jump into ‘Pretty Fly’ it sends the Palace into meltdown, all 3 levels of the Palace shaking furiously.
All too soon it’s time for one final number. Dexter asks the audience to take over vocal duties for the last track and a packed house sings it’s way through ‘Self Esteem’. It’s amazing stuff, and one of those great gig moments as so many voices join together. Noodles’ request to “pogo during the bits – you’ll know them when they come along” is granted and the crowd on the floor sings and jumps as one during each chorus. The band stand back and play, and watch. The crew side stage pull out cameras and film. It’s as good a 4 minutes of live music as you’ll ever experience, and one of those times when words are not enough . Really, you had to be there! Rebellion, humour and energy -it’s the OC transplanted, briefly, to Melbourne … and yes, you HAD to be there!.