EDMONTON -- The Offspring may have become too big to be called "punk," but they're not too big that they can't roll with the punches.
There was a catastrophic failure of the lighting system about a third of the way through the band's concert at the AgriCom last night (it wouldn't be an Offspring concert in Edmonton if it didn't take place at the AgriCom, so recently the site of bad K-Days food and overpriced Indonesian knick-knacks). This band has grown to the point where massive arena light shows are called for - and the whole thing went kerflooey in an impressive shower of sparks. Cool pyro, man. Only it wasn't pyro.
Did they pout like whiny rock stars? Did they take a short break, unable to continue without their fancy production?
Not on your life. Singer Dexter Holland and guitarist Noodles - so ironically named because he doesn't waste a single note - staged an impromptu acoustic set. With a roadie holding a work light, they pulled a bit of Stairway to Heaven and threatened to play an entire evening of acoustic classic rock - "Do you know any Bryan Adams? How about Loverboy?" they bantered. There were some good-natured boos from a crowd of 3,800, more or less balanced between young punks and 40-something, beer-soaked Bear listeners. Then they launched into an old original tune that turned out to be one of the highlights of the evening. They filled 10 minutes nicely until the power was fixed - and then it was back to one big-production stomper after another. Nice going, boys. Let's see if Van Halen could pull that off.
The Offspring has changed little in numerous Edmonton appearances. There's more tunes now, thanks to another album, Conspiracy of One, once again filled with uptempo, ironic fun on the order of Pretty Fly (For a White Guy). As always, the pumped-up crowd was treated to a punk show with arena rock trappings. Or perhaps it was the other way around.
With the mosh pit seething like a giant game of Battling Tops, the band wasted little time getting to the hits. Early on, the dumb fun of Come Out and Play had the crowd cheering the refrain, "Gotta keep 'em separated!" It was just the start of an entire night of pure rock 'n' roll fun. Was it punk or not? Who cares.
Opening the show were two bands that added an international flavour to the evening. From Sweden and not sounding at all like ABBA was Millencolin, which delivered a hard-hitting set of punk rock pretty much free of the anger or complaining that normally distinguishes this music. What do Swedes have to rebel against, anyway - too many liberal social programs?
Kicking off the show was the sneering glam rock band the Black Halos, from Vancouver - although they sounded like they came from New Yawk circa 1978. Now that's punk. (More on The Offspring).