Indianapolis News

Offspring Reveals Sophisticated Side

Author: David Lindquist

The Offspring

Deer Creek Music Center
Star ratings: 4 excellent, 3 good, 2 fair,1 poor

The Offspring, who have developed into a full-service rock band, performed for 7,500 concertgoers Monday afternoon at Deer Creek Music Center.

Best known to the public for easy, cheesy singles such as Pretty Fly (For a White Guy) and Why Don’t You Get a Job, the Orange County quartet showed off a darker, more sophisticated side during a 75-minute performance that topped a quality Memorial Day bill sponsored by radio station WRZX.

Vocalist Bryan “Dexter’ Holland and guitarist Kevin “Noodles” Wasserman dug into straight-ahead tracks Gone Away, The Kids Aren’t Alright and Gotta Get Away, prompting appreciative fans to spiral full cups of soft drinks skyward (thankfully, there were no full-scale garbage riots Monday). Thirty-something punk rockers who have stuck around long enough to cash in and also sound good in a live setting, Holland and Wasserman seemed bemused at times by the mostly teen-age audience that slammed, pogoed and shouted along to even inferior material.

Because every third song seemed to be a radio staple that helped build stations such as WRZX during the 90s, the lulls were short.

Even the insipid Why Don’t You Get a Job, which led off the band’s two-song encore, scored points for the best visual joke. The band’s trio of back-up singers/percussionists/guitar technicians (who got plenty of stage time to help compensate for lifeless drummer Ron Welty and bass player Greg Kriesel) wore matching white T-shirts lettered “Choose Work.”

This nod to the 1984 Wham! video for Wake Me Up Before You Go Go drew a perfect parallel for two pieces of disposable pop.

Australia’s Living End (****) played a lean, sharp and dangerous blend of rockabilly and punk.

Singer-guitarist Chris Cheney (who looks a bit like Friends star Matthew Perry) channels ’50s Icon Gene Vincent, Clash leader Joe Strummer and even Rancid’s Tim Armstrong when he fearlessly grabs equal handfuls of anti-establishment and melody. The beauty of the Living End’s performance came from the trio’s ability to win over an audience familiar with just one single (Prisoner of Society) that has received moderate airplay in Indianapolis.

In a praiseworthy moment of civil disobedience, Cheney called for lawn-dwelling concert-goers to stream into the Deer Creek pavilion to bring some life to the sedate crowd gathered under the roof.

Once the down-fronters got the message that it’s more fun to participate in a show than gawk backward at a mosh pit on the hill, the afternoon truly rocked.

Opening act the Flys (**1/2) disappointed with a ragged performance of surf metal.

Drummer Nicky Lucero battered a consistent beat behind frontman Adam Paskowitz, who seemed a bit lost onstage without his brother, Joshua.

Second vocalist Joshua, who adds the winning hip-hop element to songs such as Got You (Where I Want You), was absent because of personal commitments.