Austin American Statesman

Offspring Too Laid-back For Teen Rebels

Author: Anna Giuliani

On Friday, D Generation opened a triple-bill show featuring Living End and the Offspring and after a few tunes, shouted to the audience, “This one’s for everyone who doesn’t wanna go to school on Monday!”

The wild response from the young crowd summed up the entire concert. All three bands cater to the teenage desire for a small measure of anarchy. Parents dropped off their 15-year-old boys and girls at the doors of Austin Music Hall so they could act the part of rebellious teens, if only for the evening. The allure of groups like the Offspring. Living End and D Generation is that they’re safe enough to win parents’ approval and deflant enough to appeal to kids. And there is a place for these bands within the musical spectrum. They play watered-down punk that’s not for adults, critics, musical cynics or for people who really value music for its inventiveness. It’s for teen-agers… and teen-agers like it. They don’t know moshing isn’t hip anymore; it’s their chance to release weeks’ worth of pent-up energy.

D Generation opened the show with strength; their hybrid of metal and new-school punk poured through the loudspeakers to appreciative onlookers slamming against each other with wild abandon. The short segment from the least “corporate” of the bands on the bill was the most inspired. D Generation used neither tricky nor clever stage antics, but had loads of energy and understood the importance of band-to-crowd interaction.

The most serious misstep of the evening was Living End’s performance. The Green Day wannabes were shockingly mediocre, but having an upright bass player in a punk band is apparently enough of an oddity to make them MTV darlings. The boys’ set was easy to ignore, except for a troubling version of “Tainted Love,” which was memorable only because it was so awful. Many concertgoers took this opportunity to make their way to the restrooms or to get another soda. Perhaps the Offspring chose to feature these tuneless fellows before their set in order to make themselves look better in comparison. The tactic worked.

The Offspring’s set was tight, though the band’s stage presence left something to be desired (despite plenty of encouragement from the enthusiastic throng of kids). A $20-plus ticket should have bought the audience more running around, jumping up and down and general craziness. Ninety percent of the crowd knew all the words to the Offspring’s radio hits “No Self Esteem”, “Keep “Em Separated” (from their multiplatinum “Ixnay on the Hombre”), “Pretty Fly (For a White Guy)” and “Why Don’t You Get a Job” (both from their newest album, “Americana”). The Offspring, though not the most original of bands, can write a good hook. Once you hear an Offspring song – like it or not – the sing along chorus rattles around in your brain for the rest of the day.

During one of the more amusing moments during the Offspring’s set, music from pretty-boy popsters Backstreet Boys blasted over the speakers and five dummies were placed on stage. Suddenly the Offspring burst from the back and proceeded to beat the daylights out of the dummies – to the cheers of sweaty youth. Ah, rebellion.