Sunday night was a giant nostalgia wankfest for me and many other “millennials,” not that any of us were complaining. The Offspring’s “Original Prankster” was the first video I ever downloaded off of Napster (yep I’m old), and Sum 41’s All Killer No Filler was the first album I ever bought. I will never forget playing air guitar in my room to both bands like the hopeless dork I was and still am. Judging from the flailing I saw, there were MANY others with similar experiences. Even though Dinosaur Pile Up was there to modernize the show, it was previous obvious that this was a “let’s play the hits” kind of show. Even the newer generation of fans moshed more furiously to the old stuff. Both headliners were clearly past their prime, but whatever man, sometimes it’s fun to go back in time and yell “YEAH!” and “WHOA!” like an 11-year old brat.
Sum 41 and The Offspring have so much material at this point that I didn’t think they needed an opener. Dinosaur Pile Up didn’t do much to change that opinion for me, but I did appreciate their youthful energy. Their hooks were nowhere as catchy as the other two bands but they won over a lot of the crowd with their rawer, fresher sound and charming banter. At one point, frontman Matt Bigland in a self-deprecating tone thanked all six people who had seen the band before their set. A good sign of a worthy opening band is if they command your attention even as half the concert hall is still trickling in.
Even if the songs have dated considerably and the bratty posing isn’t as cool now that the band members are nearing their 40s, Sum 41 still put on one hell of a show! Deryk Whibley was especially inspired as he bounded on stage, ran across Place Bell , shook hands with fans and serenaded the cheap seats with a heartfelt rendition of “Pieces.” Considering how bad his health was a couple of years ago, it was genuinely nice to see the guy practically glowing.
Sadly, there were parts of the show that were corny and bordered on audience pandering. The low points were when the band tried to pump the crowd with an eye-rolling rendition of Queen’s “We Will
Rock You” and then later busted out an inflatable Satan behind drummer Frank Zummo only to have it topple over moments later. Thankfully the boys rebounded pretty quickly with fiery renditions of arguably their most beloved hits “In Too Deep,” “Fat Lip” and “Still Waiting”. As the lights went out, Whibley sneered out “Byyyye” and just like that was gone and left us wanting more.
Man, have The Offspring gotten old! It hadn’t even dawned on me that they have been around for 30 years until I noticed how little singer Dexter Holland was moving around on stage. Age is certainly a bitch, but thankfully not for their music. The band may have had less energy and movement than Sum 41, but man, have their classic hits retained their bite. The only time the energy dropped is when they tried to play something new, which thankfully wasn’t often at all. I mean, I get it, they are probably bored as fuck playing “Come Out and Play” every night but as soon as they busted it out the crowd went coo-coo bananas!
People were humming Noodles iconic guitar riff and headbanging in their seats! A similar thing happened with “Original Prankster,” as everyone was compelled to yell out the sample of Rob Schneider’s “You Can Do It!” catchphrase. The band didn’t even need to move. We did enough of that for them especially on the mosh pit classic “Staring at the Sun.” They might be older but The Offspring’s playfulness and willingness to surprise are still very much intact. Noodles, the biggest goofball of the band, would burst out in hilarious ramblings either about how great he thought he was playing or how sexy he thinks the city of Laval is.
Despite an out of nowhere cover of AC/DC’s “Whole Lotta Rosie”, and a tearful piano rendition of “Gone Away” from Dexter Holland, the rest of their set was fairly predictable. It was practically predestined that they’d end with “The Kids Aren’t Alright,” leave and then immediately come back with “Self Esteem” and “You’re Gonna Go Far, Kid.” That said it didn’t stop everyone from going wild and angrily spitting out “I’M JUST A SUCKER WITH NO SELF ESTEEM!” back at the band. Sometimes predictability can be therapeutic and isn’t that why a lot of us we’re there? You can never truly go back but for one moment, every concertgoer in that room felt like they were young, dorky and thrashing away on an invisible axe.
Written by Shawn Thicke
Photography by Marc-Antoine Morin
*edited by Mike Milito