On August 4, I went to Manhattan’s Terminal 5 to see four bands that I listened to a lot as a teenager. The “Punk Rock Summer Nationals 2014” tour consists entirely of Californian bands instantly recognizable to anyone who’s listened to punk in the last few decades: The Offspring (around since 1984); Bad Religion (1979); Pennywise (1988) and The Vandals (1980). It was really exciting to see them all in one night: particularly since it was my first time seeing them all except for Bad Religion, whom I’ve seen twice before. Unsurprisingly, the tour is so popular that there was another performance scheduled the next day, which was great because the show I went to sold out.
The first to go on were The Vandals, who I remember most for their song “Euro-Barge” on the Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater soundtrack, which inspired me to get their 1998 album Hitler Bad, Vandals Good. Their set-list may have been only eleven songs long, but I had fun recognizing most of them, including five from that album (my favorites were “People That Are Going To Hell” and “Café 405.”) Since The Vandals are also known for being one of the few punk bands to put out a Christmas album (Bad Religion did one just last year,) they also shared the title track from 1996’s Oi to the World! Some people in the crowd got wild for their energetic and melodic skate-punk, but the band commented that most must have been “conserving their energy” for the later bands.
Next up was Pennywise, with their even faster brand of skate-punk, getting a bigger chunk of the crowd moshing in no time at all for their twelve-song set. Though I haven’t gotten into as much as Pennywise’s music as I had the other bands’, I mostly know them by the songs on their About Time and Full Circle albums. Thus, I had the most fun during “Perfect People,” “Same Old Story” and “Society,” as well as the rallying cry “F*** Authority,” which I’ve seen the music video for.
After them, it was onto Bad Religion: since I have all of their albums, I had no trouble recognizing all seventeen of their wise-natured songs. From the ambitious opener “Generator” to the closer “American Jesus,” it was a great mix of songs in a set-list that’s they’ve mostly changed every individual night of the tour. That night, we got to hear decades-spanning picks from eight of Bad Religion’s albums, including four songs off their most well-received record Suffer (“(You Are) The Government,” “1000 More Fools,” “Do What You Want” and “Best for You”). Some of my other favorites included “I Want To Conquer The World,” “Supersonic” and their new fan favorite from last year’s True North, simply entitled “F*** You.”
Though it was a thrill seeing Bad Religion for a third time (they are my favorite band, after all); I was also excited to finally see the other band that I discovered via Crazy Taxi about fifteen years ago: The Offspring. I’m not interested in their newest albums, but I do still love their fittingly-titled 1994 album Smash, which has sold over six million copies in the U.S. and twenty million worldwide. It’s the best-selling independent-label album of all time, so it’s no surprise that we got to hear it played in its entirety on a tour that falls during its twentieth year. We even got to hear a new version of Smash’s hilariously unfitting opener “Time to Relax” spoken-word piece, telling the crowd to go crazy. Not surprisingly, they did just that when Offspring played through each memorable tune in order except for one: they saved the “Self-Esteem” for the end, which of course made the crowd go even wilder.
After the very short “Intermission” tune that made a few concertgoers think there was time to run to the bathroom, lead vocalist and rhythm guitarist pulled down the Smash cover backdrop to reveal The Offspring’s flaming skull logo. After this, they launched into seven more songs of theirs spanning the 90s and 2000s, starting with the thrilling “All I Want” that I originally heard in Crazy Taxi. They closed with their highly energetic but depressing hit “The Kids Aren’t Alright” from 1998’s Americana, finishing a concert that undoubtedly left the tightly packed, very sweaty crowd satisfied.