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[Review] Slash featuring Myles Kennedy & The Consiprators @ John Cain Arena, Melbourne 27/02/2024

Every once and a while, I have the opportunity to tap back into my rock and metal roots, reliving the nostalgia of listening to Guns N’ Roses, Slash, Myles Kennedy, and even Alter Bridge. At John Cain Arena, all of them combined into one, finally after so many years getting to catch Slash, with Myles Kennedy and the Conspirators, with the star’s special bonus of The Struts and Aussie legends Rose Tattoo.

It seemed only more than fitting to have Angry Anderson and his high-spirited charm open up the Melbourne show, as Rose Tattoo has never fallen short of putting on a solid, classic Aussie rock gig, and boy does Angry come alive with his charisma and never wavering vocals. As if this opening act couldn’t get better, Angry decided to unveil a surprise for us “early people”, and brought out none other than Slash for a few tracks, and you could tell that the frontman and the boys were thrilled to perform alongside such an iconic rock n’ roll figure. The night only got better from there as The Struts arrived to warm us up further, and I was nothing short of blown away. The stage presence of the UK hailing rockers was phenomenal, that at points reminded me of The Who. Whilst the entire ensemble shined in their energy and enthusiasm, Luke Spiller is a one in a thousand frontman. One you can’t take your eyes off of the way he dances and interacts with the crowd, engaging in call and responses and hyping everybody up flawlessly.   If this is an energy The Struts can bring as a warm up act, I can only imagine how incredible a headline show would be.

If I can say anything about a show headed by Slash and Myles backed by the usual incredible ensemble, it’s that it’s exactly what you are expecting walking into it: nothing short of electric. It was a non-stop, 2 hour long stellar delivery that kept everyone moving in their seats and on their feet respectively. Slash never disappoints, for there’s a reason he’s a rock god. With the sheer presence of him and his signature Les Paul and top hat, his moves, and the fingers that never rest, flying across the fretboard like lightning. Myself, and seemingly everyone around me, never broke our gaze upon the inhuman guitarist during his many 10+ minute solos, leaving us with chills. Myles Kennedy shined as always, with an easily recognisable house that is still strong to this day and will be for the foreseeable future. His energy radiates this ‘cool’ that’s always great to watch, whilst also showing his wholesome side performing Fill My World inspired by his dog, encouraging the audience to hold up photos of their furry friends. 

Todd Kerns, an incredible yet criminally underrated performer, was another highlight. His energy on stage is unmatched, and his foul language is as musical to my ears as Slash’s guitar craft, even also surprisingly jumping on the mic for a few covers and making that thing his bitch with his powerful vocals. 

After a thunderous encore with a beautiful cover of Rocketman featuring Slash on the lap steel guitar, followed by the coolest riffs of Anastasia, the night came to a close, and I couldn’t even rest nor sleep even hours after the show, for Slash featuring Myles Kennedy and the Conspirators gave me a buzz unlike any other. My teenage rock n’ roll heart was pumping with excitement.  

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[Review] Australian Open Finals Festival, John Cain Arena, Melbourne 28/01/2024

While Sunday’s sweltering heat may have deterred some, it certainly didn’t put a damper on spirits at the final day of the Australian Open’s dynamic music event, Finals Festival. Three full days of local music, international stars, and DJ sets – guaranteed to leave your head moving and your feet tapping at this sporty-summer-ending-bash. This is going to be an electrifying finish to the Australian Open festivities.

As soon as I step through the gates of the Australian Open, I am met with an immediate wave of music. A trio of guys armed with a trumpet, saxophone and trombone are tearing through a rendition of Mambo No. 5. As tennis skirts, white visors and wedge heels move past me; I really start to drink it all in. Walking through this Mecca To Sport, I pass tall green muscled men on stilts, more free sunscreen samples than I can carry, and a really convincing Mike Posner cover act. Jamming out to Cooler Than Me, I find the entrance to John Cain Arena and the open-air spectacular that is Finals Festival.

Before I go inside and join the swarms of people inside a de-roofed John Cain, I lounge on the grass listening to the electro-pop tunes of Latifa Tee. A triple j radio host and DJ, she is a summer day with friends and strangers. An exclusive, new remix of Cupid is the perfect pairing with a cold drink, hot chips and prescription sunglasses to people watch. Latifa is so beautiful, completely smooth and in her element onstage. The heat seems to roll off her and she stays upbeat, hair curls perfect and unbothered as she works her magic on the decks.

Next up to the literal hot seat, is Melbourne’s own, Sunshine & Disco Faith Choir. They self-describe themselves as: A true ode to dancefloor salvation, Sunshine and Disco Faith Choir serve to share the gospel of disco faith with those whose enthusiasm lives in the hands of the music. These genre-benders feel almost too cerebral for so early in the day, but regardless I am completely enamoured by them. A disco lover to my very core; this is music for anyone who loves Nu-Disco, Fleetwood Mac, and an unbridled feminine ecstasy. This is a huge group. I’m talking, 12-piece choir big. From the opening minute of Welcome to the Dancefloor, one of the biggest earworms of the last 5 years, I knew these guys were going to be a grand slam. The sounds washing over the crowd are just incredible. There are moments that feel identical to a musical sermon. 10,000 people all holding their breath as Dreams floats over us, until an EDM beat rises inconspicuously into airspace. Then it’s a mess of swishing hair, rolling wrists and fan-flapping. Sunshine is dressed in these long flowing sleeves, with lace and feathers and a hat – of course. They are aesthetically and musically a marvel, and if they were taking on groupies – I’d have found my calling.

British drum and bass heavyweights Rudimental are the penultimate act at the Australian Open on this fine day. Festival staples, the three-piece are playing to a revved up crowd. 10,000 of us fight for the half of the arena that has shade. My years of training (going to emo and hardcore shows) have meant I have a great spot with view of the stage. While Rudimental are known for some Rhythm and Blues softness, today it’s time for daylight depravity. An extra heavy version of 2024 release Alibi is a highlight for me. The screens behind the stage are bright yellow, and red and pulsating. Smoke billows out onto the crowd and lights shine down onto us as we let loose into the sound. We are truly dancing the day away. As quick as they start, they’re off. They’ve even curated a great section of ‘hold music’ – including an EDM remix of 1965 The Temptations hit, My Girl. An entire crowd is screaming along to the words; My girl! / My giiirl for at least 3 minutes. And it’s beautiful. There is such a lively, upbeat and energetic vibe in John Cain this Grand Final.

Groove Armada come on and the arena is suddenly packed to the brim. So, I stand off to the side and watch Andy Cato and Tom Findlay run through a super high-energy DJ set. The two have such a great comradery with each other. They smile as though they’re making a joke none of us are in on. And to be honest? They could be laughing at us. We don’t care. As long as they keep the beats going. Personal favourite, reggae/ska infused electronica banger, Superstylin’ is one of the first cabs off the rank. Even though it’s still so sunny outside, it suddenly feels like night-time. Bright lights flash and I can feel the bass in my fingers. My bones are shaking with every rhythm change and beat drop. It’s awesome. There is something late-night about Groove Armada. They feel timeless, placeless – like if oblivion was a new club that we were all dying to be on the waitlist for. They’re effortlessly cool, low-stakes and perfect for grooving. You could not ask for a better closing act.

This was a day of sweat, icy drinks and teeth chattering levels of bass. An electric finish is putting it mildly. This was a trip through so many genres, people, drinks, laughs, songs, sets – I’m sad to have landed back on the tarmac. I still haven’t undone my seatbelt though, I’ll be here, hoping for one more lap around the court, just to get a fraction of those vibes again.

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[Review] Weezer @ John Cain Arena, Melbourne 06/09/2023

With PAX Aus and Weezer’s headline tour in the same week, it’s an absolutely showstopping few days in Melbourne for white guys aged 27 to 50. And showstopping perfectly describes what greeted me onstage at John Cain Arena, Friday night. Californian indie Golden-Boys Weezer need no introduction. A perfect combination of meme-culture, unbeatable musicianship and perfect pop-banger to rock-solo percentage; they really are the upper echelon for anyone who enjoys teen movies from the 90s (or was a teen in the 90s). And so, before I introduce the cheese, the steeze “The Weeze”, let me tell you about their support.

Regurgitator follow in the highly coveted Brisbane tradition of fuck-off punk rock. Their sound is somewhere between Kraftwerk and Limp Bizkit. The Smiths meets Grunge. Two entirely separate forces that shouldn’t come together, but when they do – musical nuclear fusion. The guitars are howling, the guys are bantering and we’re all completely enamoured by the Brisbane trio and their shit-eating grins. As is customary, they begin a chant immediately after their second song of; Oi! Oi! Oi! An Australian classic. A cultural must. “Are you guys ready to hear a song that goes faster than the last one?”  (Bong In My Eye – an absolute tune, of course) “Yeah this one goes so hard” One of them moans; “Uh! So hard!” And with a cackle that would make Jack and Jill run back up that hill, they throw us headfirst into Polyester Girl. After the guitars simmer a bit, ultimate Bass-dad Ben Ely asks us a question that really needs no answer; “We’re so excited. Are you excited?” We cheer, but clearly not enough. “It’s fucking Weezer, man!” Quan Yeomans, our ever-charismatic front man chimes in, “Weeeezer!” And so, of course, we cheer. And now that our excitement is excited enough, the show continues. Blubber Boy into Fat Cop into I Wanna Be A Nudist, it’s just out of control how many tracks these guys can deliver at full energy with no faults. Even when they are forced to restart on Blubber Boy, they’re still masters. The reason for the restart, is because the old adage that “White People Have No Rhythm”, was proven at John Cain that night. They get an entire crowd to clap along – no two of us had the same rhythm. The people of the Caucus Mountains were struggling to participate in the musical madness and wonder of Regurgitator. So, they get us to start. We clap, they follow; and they blow that stereotype back out of the water. After a really good bit “How many more songs do we have left? Are we out of time?” Runs it’s natural course, we are asked one final, tantalising question; “Should we do a naughty song?” But before they have time to deliver on this, Yeomans takes the mic. “My daughter should be here somewhere! She just moved to Melbourne! Where is she?” A sea of men shove their hands in the air. “You’re not her! You’re a fella!” when one of his Regurgitator brothers asks him, “Mate, are you even wearing your glasses?” And so, they give up. I hope she was there and had as good a time as the rest of us. The World of Sleaze and ! (The Song Formally Known As) take us perfectly into the World of Weeze. (These aren’t my words, I promise. Read on to find out who said that! Intrigue!)

Teal Album is one of Weezer’s more forgotten albums. A compendium of covers spanning 3 decades, it’s miss-able, but unforgettable. In what I like to consider an homage, they play us into the dimming lights, the unmistakable hush before a show, with Africa by Toto. An iconic song, an iconic cover, an iconic show is imminent.

To save you the read: I can, without a doubt, say Weezer’s Indie Rock Roadtrip is one of the best shows I’ve seen in years. Whether you’re a hardcore Weezer fan, a casual enjoyer or a Pinkerton defender – this tour has it all. These songs are so a part of the cultural zeitgeist that it’s impossible for the whole show to not feel nostalgic, treasured, and significant.

Rivers Cuomo, Patrick Wilson, Brian Bell and Scott Shriner are in an echelon all of their own. For the next two hours, we will be lovingly chauffeured through all of the bands biggest hits – and some of their smallest. With this foursome behind the wheel, you know it’s gonna be one hell of a trip.

Starting out strong with My Name Is Jonas, we are introduced to the vibe of the trip.

Picture this:

A cartoon, semi-idealistic version of America. We are Jonas, some kid living in the outer stretches of Los Angeles, completely lost in the world of our headphones. We jump in the car with some of our friends and start our long winding road North, and East. Turning the radio, The Good Life comes on. Out the window, we can see signs for American restaurants, but it’s all fantasy. “Jamie’s In The Box” “Bran Bell” “Up N Down Burger”. And the biggest fantasy of all, Weezer is on tour. Except that’s now. That’s us! This is fantastical. Immediately, we are on this trip with them through all these things that are impossible, fantastical, but oh-so real. Pinch me.

I will never understand what it is about hearing a singer mention the town their singing in that makes crowds go feral. But they go feral. Finishing Beverly Hills with “Living in Melbourne, Australia” set the crowd off. It’s like front-man Cuomos threw us gold pieces, we were loving it.

As In The Garage comes to a close, and 11,000 people sing-shout ‘No one hears me/ No one hears me’ Cumos speaks over us. “Have you guys heard? We’re opening for KISS tomorrow!” There’s some light applause. “HEY! WE’RE OPENING FOR KISS” and he hits a mean chord on his guitar. We respond with what Rivers decrees as a worthy level of cheer for the 1970s Rock-Gods. And, in their honour, they play a punky, high-energy, guitar-forward cover of Strutter. The way lead Guitarist Brian Bell moves his hands along the guitar is spellbinding. The fretboard is an extension of his arm, the sounds leave his hands and sit in the room in perfect harmony with all the other noise. It’s impossible to tell where that skilful ends and the hot-air of GA begins. Oh, and Bell whips out the double-necked electric in true KISS spirit – what an homage.

As a Green Album girlie until the bitter end, I swear I nearly popped a blood vessel when they launched into Photograph. This is the first full-band performance of the criminally underrated release since 2015. And it’s even better live. The insane visuals, Cuomos off-kilter vocals, and the pounding drums provided by Patrick Wilson bring this track to life. I feel like I’m in IMAX, but for sound.

Undone (The Sweater Song) is one of THE Weezer tracks. Starting out of nowhere, the melancholic, drifting, delayed opening notes are barely heard under the guttural screams of excitement for one of Blue Album’s most coveted. This song isn’t short, but it flies by. The foursome never seem to tire. They can just keep playing, perfectly, never easing up on themselves (or us). The energy never drops even for a moment. Cuomos and bassist Scott Shriner jump along the stage, one leg stretched in front of them, as Bell shreds the ultimate shred. Cuomos arms are a blur of strumming, he is absolutely caning his pale-green strat – but the pain is so worth the reward. The crowd is all hands, clapping predictably out of time, and people dance-shoving. As the music swells to its predicted finale – Cuomos puts his guitar to his mouth and starts playing with his teeth. Once he’s decided to give his enamel a break and the song finishes, he plants a big, loving kiss on the green body of The Little Guitar That Could.

Next up is an absolute highlight of the show. Rivers takes to the stage, alone. Armed only with an acoustic guitar, he starts to tell us a story of young love and heartbreak. The story goes something like this;

“I really liked this girl. She called me all the time, came to Christmases with my family- the whole thing. I thought she liked me too. One day, after we hung out she said she’s call me tomorrow. But she didn’t call. I waited by the phone the after that, too. And the next. By day 14 I realised she wasn’t going to call. So, on day 19 – I wrote this song.”

I didn’t recognise Waiting on You at first. Done just with an acoustic guitar, it sounded almost like a parody. Like Kill Me Please, from The Wedding Singer. It sounded like the very stereotype of sad 90’s Rock you’d expect. Where’s Matt Groening? Is this a Simpsons sketch?

Why? Haven’t you called me?

Did you forget me?

The Arena is alight with phone torches as Cuomos laments to us, fully aware of the comedy.

Mine, is the loneliest of numbers

Now, is the loneliest of times

You’re 19 days late

But still I sit and wait

The other three Weezer members come onstage and gather around the microphone. Barbershop quartet-style, they finish the lament. The house erupts with applause.

The next song is also a romantic lament of sorts. A ballad for Geffen Records Receptionist, Susanne hits even harder acoustic. Still gathered around the mic, it’s easy to see why Weezer disarmed and wooed this woman. They’re humble, talented, dressed in vans and baggy pants (Primo Skater Chic) at 55. Listen, Susanne, we get it,.Cuomos is beating out ‘Izzy, Slash and Axel Rose’ for her affections. This 5’6, hyperactive man is Geffen’s biggest Lover-Boy. As soon as they play, they transform. Roadies strap electric guitars onto Brian Bell, and we are treated to a wonderous ending of acoustic strums and electric licks. Suddenly they’re young again, somewhere else, and ultra-handsome.

We are showing them our appreciation. “Good on ya, Melbourne!” Some guy behind me, slurring and raspy screams back, “On ya, Rivers!”

“How is it? Chilling with The Weez at John Cain Arena.” The Weez. Said with such a tongue-in-cheek earnestness I can’t help but laugh. He’s an icom. The Master of The Shitpost.

Only In Dreams starts with River on acoustic for the first verse. Suddenly, they are all strapped with electrics again. And in a literal jump onstage – the tempo picks up. The visuals behind them are a waving red and purple. They are caning the shit out of their guitar strings. Shriner is a machine on bass. This song is so bass-heavy, and he has no issues being up to the task. Filling the room with warm, open, delicately layered bass with ease.

Of course, Island in The Sun gets a play. It’s so nostalgic, and wonderful. Everyone is out of their seats, swaying together, putting their arms up, singing. It’s like the final shot of a movie, where everything’s worked out. We’ve gotten into college, got the girl of our dreams and are watching fireworks on the beach. No notes, a perfect 10.

Growing up in Seattle, Washington. I am hard-wired to recognise Mount Rainier. And there it is. On the projection screen. We are driving through the cascades on this road-trip to the home of Grunge, of 90’s melancholia, of general antics and too-much noise. All My Favourite Songs gets Cuomos on keys. And he slaps them happily as we sing along. Lyrics that are so relevant, so painful. This 2021 release from Weezer shows that the band isn’t just a group of fossils peaking 30 years ago.

Cuomos openly hates Say it Aint So, so I was not expecting it to be played. But then that opening lick plays. And the sound that left my body was inhuman. He might hate it, but the song is one of the all-time greats. A Banger to End All Bangers. God-Tier. To save himself singing the chorus, he just stands – arms and legs spread, a starfish under 5 spotlights, as the pre-chorus lick goes and 11,000 of us, in perfect, ecstatic harmony scream:

“Say it aint so! Your drug is a heart breaker.

Say it aint so! My love is a life taker.

My personal favourite part of the song, the bridge, is magical. The lights turn red and then purple and blue, and swirl around the foursome.

“This bottle of Stevens, awakens ancient feelings”

They start to slam on their strings and build until it’s all noise and 3 simultaneous solos that wind and weave and become alive together. It’s like nothing I’ve ever seen before. These songs I thought I knew, are so much more vivid in Weezer’s guiding hand.

“Are you guys enjoying the road trip?” Cuomos asks us. Does he even need to ask? He grins at the amount of noise we make in response. “It’s not a road trip ‘til dad takes a photo”. And he pulls out a polaroid. Referring to himself as Dad makes him even more likeable. If such a thing is possible. He snaps pics of all sides of the room and takes us into the end of the show.

Hash Pipe is such a phenomenal way to finish their main set. It’s aggressive, fast and punchy. The visuals of bats eyes, faded, bloodshot and spinning is such a great homage to the King’s of Stoner-Core. For the Guitar Hero friend next to me, it was a pretty huge closer.

Thank You and Good Night has our foursome standing on steps at the back of the stage, shredding together. I hate encores, but my fingers and toes are crossed for more.

And more is what we get.

The Waste Land is muddy, grungey and layered. They walk onstage and add to its layers one by one until we are carried on an almighty wave of perfect sound. Black Sabbath are pissing their pants a little with this one.

Surf Wax America is so quintessentially Weezer. It’s jumpy, fun and best shared at a barbeque. Blue Album remains one of the best in any genre, because of its versatility. This is not the same band they were just one song ago. But I am loving it. We all sing off-key, delighted and carefree.

A testament to the absolute mountain of songs Weezer has in their arsenal, is a major hit I had completely forgotten about in the fun and the fervour. Buddy Holly. Everyone’s favourite Spike Jonze music video. A staple in the Weezer canon. It’s amazing for one of a band’s major hits to have escaped my mind because I was so enraptured by everything they had going on. These guys could play one chord and I’d be spellbound. Another Blue Album staple, we are quick to show our adoration. The video in the background is of people roller-skating around. And while we can’t roller-skate, we can dance. And dance we do. With fun little licks, delightful harmonies and a beat that’s impossible not to move to – this song really has it all.

At this point, they’ve proven they’re an unbeatable unit with unbelievable, untranscribable skill. But it’s fucking ridiculous they played for 2 hours with no mistakes. Oh, what I’d give to bottle those 2 hours and live there.

Buddy Holly packs a punch, and so they leave us stunned, thrilled, desperate for another forgotten-hit. I’m in a daze, and this was 2 days ago. You could not ask for a better night.

If  Weezer have 1 fan it’s me if they have no fans I’m dead. I love you Weezer. And you would too. Buy tickets next time, I promise you’ll leave happier, bouncier and beachier.  And maybe just a little bit stoned.

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[Review] Ghost @ John Cain Arena 04/10/2023

Whether you’re a Christian, Satanist, Pagan, or devote your life to any spiritual realm, it has always been clear to me the Ghost has always reached diverse audiences around the world. The satanic aesthetic created by Papa Emeritus IV and his cult of Nameless Ghouls has always drawn my wandering eyes to fix on them, whilst also seducing my ears to their incredible sound. Seeing this group live amongst the face-painted and costume clad fans was a sight to worship.

After a slightly delayed wait with a holy voices of a cathedral choir echoing from behind the white drapes that concealed the stage, the opening acoustic licks of Imperium were almost drowned out by the screaming of the packed John Cain Arena, all before the silhouette of a certain axe-shredding ghoul appeared colossal on the white curtain as he jammed the upbeat opening riff to Kaisarion. The curtains dropped whilst the ghouls brought on an anthem for Papa himself to grace the stage, blessing us with iconic vocals that you could identify in a second.

A quintessential Ghost performance is always nothing short of a jaw-dropping spectacle, from the set design of a cathedral depicting at first holy imagery on stained class to later depict hellish imagery towards the climax of the show, all the way down to the light-work that perfectly complimented the backdrop of each individual track, an example being the appropriate deep red as the opening of Year One chanted the many names of our favourite horned red man: 


But despite each nameless ghoul getting moments to shine throughout the show, it’s obvious who the prominent character was, as Papa Emeritus had all of our eyes completely glued to him from start to finish. As highlighted previously, his vocal style and genius lyricism has cultivated its own powerful authenticity and has been become iconic within the music community let alone the rock/metal genres, reaching its height especially in the slower yet still hard tracks like Cirice and Call Me Little Sunshine. His swift costume changes were also a sight to behold, as each short interval between each track had him emerging with something new, including a steampunk top-hat, shadow-casting bat wings, his of course iconic elegant and gothic Pope outfit, all the way down to his shining red and blue “after show jackets”.

The humour and banter between the band members never failed to make me chuckle, from Papa’s charismatic humour between songs or the playful scolding of either of the soloing guitarists. We even received a cameo from a longtime Ghost character, Papa Nihil, emerging disorderly from a glass box to performing an earth shattering saxophone solo during Miasma, right before Papa uses this to segway into the next track in which “Nihil sings”, this track being the iconic Mary On A Cross, and it matters not whether you were a ghost fan before this track circled the world, or became a fresh listener of the band after the track’s popularity across TikTok, there’s no doubt every soul in the arena belted every single lyric, myself included. 

As the climax approached, Papa gave a little speech in appreciation of the community and support all before announcing the final song for the night, Respite on the Spitefields, before Ghost departed the stage….all for a short while before Papa re-emerged in response to the call-out of the audience, bantering over being told about us “expecting a classic rock show with an encore”. The charismatic frontman agreed to the crowd’s demand for three more songs (not too fond of a front row “crazy lady’s” suggestion of five songs), before the lights revealed the remaining ghouls in the darkness kicking off the encore with the ever risqué Kiss the Go-Goat. The remaining two songs required our strengthened necks for head banging and dancing shoes, for the lights radiated and glimmered with a colourful disco palate for the upbeat Dance Macabre, transitioning ever so smoothly alongside a final thanks from Papa Emeritus into the enigmatic yet powerful Square Hammer, in which the volume of the opening riff had to compete with the screams of the crowd one final time. 

As Ghost finally departed from the stage and instructing us to “fuck off” as well, I was positively buzzing for the rest of the night, as I had been apart of a mass ritual that I will not forget anytime soon, a ritual which should be experienced at least once in a lifetime…

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[Review] Offspring / Sum 41 @ John Cain Arena, Melbourne 7/12/2022

I don’t think there are many words that can capture the pure bliss and adrenaline of a double injection of pure punk nostalgia, and I’m sure that can be said for a lot of big rock shows, but Sum 41 and The Offspring delivered something truly out of this world and will keep my heart pumping for months on end.

The venue collectively packed with avid fans in anticipation for the big night, ready for Sum 41 to deliver their introduction. Obviously keeping the spirit of Australia, the lights dimmed and then reddened to the tune of TNT by AC/DC, right before the band followed by Deryck ran into the spotlight. His energy immediately screamed volumes to the upcoming performance he would deliver as a frontman. The skater punk icons wasted no time, immediately erupting into their intro as well as The Hell Song, and no expense was spared for the unexpected pyro technics that could melt your face off even in the side stands.

Deryck’s involvement with the crowd is the type of interaction I’m inspired by as a musician/frontman myself, hyping up the crowd to the max and encouraging them to lose their mind like, as Deryck called them, “crazy motherfuckers”. The audience did not brush this off, as the circle pits and jumping ensued for the entire first set, even to the point of Whibley questioning their exhaustion. With chants to screaming competitions to call and responses, this group always knew how to keep a room alive, especially with the violent giant balloon popping

I think my leather pants were strong enough to contain my punk excitement when Deryck mentioned the name of Sum 41’s classic album, All Killer No Filler, right before Dave Baksh began the riff to In Too Deep which caused a temporary earthquake with the amount of feet jumping up and down, including my very own. Deryck proceeded to talk about how special it is to perform all these tunes that the boys wrote while they were teenagers, right before treating the OG Sum 41 fans by taking us all the way back to a track from their very first 2000 album, Makes No difference.

Sum 41 neither spared any humor as Deryck acquire his guitar, claiming we shouldn’t get excited as he had no idea how to play it, all before intentionally awfully playing Smoke on the Water and Seven Nation Army, even surprisingly roping in the band to perform a pop punk cove of We Will Rock You. But I’m sure many of us knew why the guitar was in his hands, as there were two hits they were yet to play. I couldn’t even finish my thought process before the iconic opening riff to Fat Lip amplified through John Cain Arena followed by the conclusion of Still Waiting already damaging my vocal chords for the night. As they disbanded, I sat their in awe wondering how on earth that performance could be topped…..oh boy was I wrong.

The 30 minute interval between sets are always the prime time at any show to get some booze and grub, but regardless of this there was instead a plethora of antics as entertaining as the shows themselves. At first, a giant blimp bearing the iconic Offspring logo flown by a drone circled over the packed arena like a hawk over its prey, followed by a mysterious crew member coming onto stage donning a gorilla mask who proceeded to slingshot shirts into the crowds of thousands. This was all followed by quintessential American stadium games, like kiss cams, headbang cams, twerk cams, and as essential as always in our blessed country, mullet cams. Laughs turned into a loud countdown from 10 as the boys were ready to put on a show.

I could not contain my aching grin as The Offspring already proceeded to performing hit after hit back to back, opening with the classic Come Out And Play, followed by the iconic “AY YA YA YA YA YA” to All I Want, and then a song I never thought would be performed live, Want You Bad, taking me back to a time I’d have this on repeat in class to escape my most punk worthy oppression at the time…general mathematics. Dexter and Noodles did what they do best next to putting on a killer show, delivering a gut busting crowd interaction really showing the brotherhood between the two.

After performing a few of their latest hits including Let the Bad Times Roll, Original Prankster sent all of us as a collective into a frenzy, as if we were listening to their greatest hits record being played live on stage. The ending of this track ended with a few second of silence, before the crunchy bass riff introducing the SMASH hit, Bad Habit, which in itself transformed the mosh pit into a zombie horde straight out of World War Z, all before Dexter swiftly halted the song unsurprisingly at this point. Dexter and Noodles continued to share more banter before cussing like sailors and getting everyone involved with expletives flying from every direction.  

Noodles proceeded to continue his own standalone comedic standup, expressing his love for playing guitar and demonstrated this with covers of Security by Amyl and The Sniffers, Back In Black, Thunderstruck, The Trooper, concluded with possibly the greatest cover of In the Hall of the Mountain King I’ve ever witnessed, right before Dexter returned to join the band with an explosive cover of Blitzkrieg Bop by none other than the Ramones.

At this point in the night, I was sweating, my neck ached, my legs shivering, and my grin was ever so plastered across my face, which I didn’t think could grow any wider until Dex whipped out the acoustic to smash of Spare Me The Details, as I’m sure we all have a shitty ex to dedicate that belter to.

Now we get into a solid 10 minutes of pure, authentic emotional beauty, as the lights dimmed, a grand piano was rolled onto stage. Sat behind the grand was Dexter, who delivered an emotional speech about cancelled tours and trials throughout the pandemic, all before introducing the new and improved mellow alteration of the Ixnay On The Hombre tear-jerker, Gone Away. And oh, my friends there were waterworks all around me behind our flashlights that lit up the entire stadium, a purely magical moment.

We swiftly moved on from the topic of loss, back to the ballads for shitty partners, and what other song could portray that than a personal favourite, Why Don’t You Get A Job?; joined by a wonderful backdrop of the iconic cartoonish album cover of Americana…safe to say my voice was non-existent by this point. Then the USA hailing punks concluded the show with Pretty Fly (For A White Guy) and The Kids Aren’t Alright, which provided such a blast for us all.

As they exited the stage, it’s almost idiotic to not assume there would be an encore with the hits they were yet to play, and this confirmation came to light as the blimp reentered the arena, now donning a banner announcing the words none other than:


The band returned to the stage to bust out, of course, You’re Gonna Go Far, Kid, which sent the crowd berserk (as if they stopped being such a way at all). We in the stands finally ignored the signs and stood for the remainder for the show, because why the fuck wouldn’t we. Dexter and Noodles between finales exchanged one last demonstration of brotherhood after introducing the incredible band, with Noodles praising his best friend Dex with his song writing and even the completion of a PHD in biology, then after a count in and seeing all vocalist collectively approached the mics, we heard it:

La la LA LA LA La La la la la!

The ever so recognizable vocal introduction to a rock n’ roll anthem, Self Esteem, that was answered with the screams or the existential lyrics, neck-shattering head banging and ground shaking jumps, for the final time turning up the energy to 11.  Adding to this the inclusion of confetti and beach balls, as the band embraced to a rapturous crowd as they said their good byes.

Even as I exited the arena through the hordes of tireless fans screaming the lyrics to Sweet Caroline, I don’t think I could shake the lingering buzz that I received from this prodigious show, a truly phenomenal experience that I will never forget. Safe to say that upon The Offspring, or Sum 41’s return, I will be throwing myself into the pit. It’s exhausting and painful for a skinny beanpole like myself, but what can I say…..I’ve Got A Bad Habit.

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