Varsity Arena, Toronto - Jun 5, 1995

KIERAN GRANT -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 8:51 PM ET

Some extra info: Offspring m.o. states that a good gig requires a joint effort on the part of the fans and the band.

Last night at a packed Varsity Arena, the kids gleefully held up their end of the bargoon as The Offspring hammered out a worthy pure-punk celebration.

Yes, pure punk. In spite of detractors' cries of "posseur" that all successful independent bands must endure, Offspring members Dexter Holland, Noodles, Greg K. and Ron Welty tackled the flak head-on and played a set where the finest moments fell only slightly shy of full-blown hardcore.

Efforts to strip tunes down to the bare-bones thrashiness of traditional loud 'n' fast punk contextualized the band's punk tag more than last year's smash Smash platter.

Then again, the high-end distortion din came via the arena itself.

Still, from the four-on-the-floor beats of set opener Bad Habit to the furious ska-flavored number

What Happened To You?, The Offspring hardly relented on the punk kick. On the rare occasions they did, with slightly less heavy exercises in moodiness that found their pop-rock nuances lost in the shuffle, the set's momentum was in clear danger of collapse.

But for a band with as many teen-angst anthems as the nearing-the-big-3-0 Offspring members have, shakers like the hit Gotta Get Away and Kick Him When He's Down, from 1992's Ignition album, seemed to come naturally.

The band brought their "we're all in this together" interplay to a boil when they fished from the mosh-pit three potential "Keep `Em Separated Persons," namely a Sasha, a Sonja and a Kirk, for Come Out And Play.

After a test of how the contestants could handle the line, singer Holland let his audience decide.

Holland then comforted the runners-up by complimenting their stage dives, as lucky Kirk settled in at the mic for his vocal duties.

Few performers are so attentive to the people who keep them in business.

SUN RATING: 4 OUT OF 5

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