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:
DANCE FUCKER DANCE!
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.