On their first Australian headline tour in 18 years and with more than 40 million albums under their belt, punk-rock stalwarts the Offspring have both nothing to prove and everything to prove on a balmy Brisbane school night at a sold-out Riverstage. So how did the much-lauded Californians’ set go down?
First up was Sum 41; the Canadian pop-punk quintet wasted no time getting boneheaded with a series of their greatest ‘hits’ mixed in with some clinical annihilations of classic rock standards and painfully contrived and contradictory audience requests ranging from “Let’s get crazy motherfuckers!” and “Let’s get a circle pit going!” to “Let’s look after each other tonight and make sure nobody gets hurt!” courtesy of dufus frontman Deryck Whibley.
Early-career lowlights ‘Motivation’, ‘The Hell Song’ and ‘Over my Head’ kicked off proceedings; the latter during which Whibley attempted to get the aforementioned circle pit happening (which wasn’t quite getting past first gear on a hot South-East Queensland evening), before the singer urged the audience to get their phone torches out for dirgy ballad ‘Walking Disaster’.
‘All Killer No Filler’ singles ‘In Too Deep’ and ‘Fat Lip’ had the capacity audience breaking (even more of) a sweat, but perhaps the most drippy moment came when Whibley & Co. showed their only flicker of a sense of humour for the evening with excerpts of ‘Smoke on the Water’ and ‘Seven Nation Army’, and the execution of a crime against musical majesty with a brutal demolition of Queen’s ‘We Will Rock You’.
The headliners are, thankfully, immediately classy from the off; it was clear the Offspring were here to play like the seasoned musicians they are, but not take themselves too seriously and be smart enough not to try to be too smart, despite the assorted PhDs and tertiary qualifications famously sported by various band members.
Early setlist highlights included ‘Come Out and Play’, ‘Want You Bad’, and the Trump-baiting recent single ‘Let the Bad Times Roll’, which fitted among earlier career tracks particularly well. ‘Original Prankster’ felt like it had been thrown away early at only 8:50pm but went down a storm before the silly mid-show ‘Noodle Plays With Himself’ section saw guitarist Noodles thrash through an entertaining medley of excerpts of ‘Sweet Child O’ Mine’, ‘Back in Black’, ‘The Trooper’, and Edvard Greig’s ‘In the Hall of the Mountain King’. It was all deeply silly and infectiously good fun; just like the guitarist himself, who claimed “It’s hard to tell where Jimi Hendrix ends and I begin”, with tongue firmly in cheek.
The fun continued with an appropriately high-octane cover of ‘Blitzkrieg Bop’ (excellent choice), and career classics ‘Why Don’t You Get a Job?’ and ‘Pretty Fly (For a White Guy)’ caused all phones in the vicinity to be held firmly aloft, and ‘The Kids Aren’t Alright’ provided the big finish before the band exited stage right to a Riverstage reverberating with appreciation.
With the venue’s infamous council-enforced 10pm cut-off time looming, there was no time to waste, and the Californians return to complete a deserved encore including ‘You’re Gonna Go Far, Kid’ in a big finish.
To bastardise a soccer metaphor, it was a gig of two halves with one side ultimately coming away with the plaudits, just like 9,000-odd Queenslanders likely came away sweaty and satisfied.