Kyle Loomis is a journalism senior and Mustang Daily music columnist.
The Offspring, Neon Trees and Dead Sara performed at Avila Beach Golf Resort on Wednesday. The Offspring was one of my favorite bands growing up, so I had high expectations for this punk-rock show that I was finally able to cross off my music bucket list.
This is my Polyphonic Report Card, a concert review in letter grade format. The categories graded are the lineup, venue, atmosphere and security.
I’ll begin with Wednesday night’s headliner: The Offspring. In June 2012, the band released its ninth studio album, “Days Go By,” and many of the songs in the band’s set (especially early on) were relatively new and generally (judging from the crowd’s response) unknown.
I don’t think very highly of the new album because many of the songs didn’t have the same angry, punk-rock feel that was so prevalent in the mid to late ’90s and early 2000s. This aspect of the band’s sound, which made it so likable to me, seems to have been replaced by more mature subject matter, as seen in the title track, which has lyrics that convey a sense of hope and yearning, rather than the “screw everything” angst that resonated with me when I was in middle school.
Though the new material wasn’t poorly received by the crowd, by its screams and shouts when The Offspring played “Come Out and Play (Keep ‘Em Separated),” it was clear many audience members were eagerly anticipating the old favorites.
Perhaps responding to the crowd’s enthusiasm, The Offspring reached into its greatest hits handbook and played oldies like “Pretty Fly (For a White Guy),” “Self Esteem,” “The Kids Aren’t Alright” and “Why Don’t You Get a Job?”
A rock show’s effectiveness is highly dependent on the opener’s ability to get the crowd pumped before the main act takes the stage, and opening acts Dead Sara and Neon Trees did just that.
Tyler Glenn, vocalist and keyboardist of the new-wave, dance-rock group Neon Trees made sure crowd members knew they were in for a good show.
“I don’t care if we’re not the headliner, you’re going to have fun for the next 40 minutes,” Glenn said. “Don’t have your arms crossed because if you have your arms crossed at a rock show in 2012, you’re F-in’ predictable.”
Dressed in skinny jeans that would make Mick Jagger’s seem baggy, Glenn employed all kinds of on-stage antics that evoked cheers from the crowd, including stuffing his microphone down the front of his pants.
Sure enough, the crowd was riled up thanks to Neon Trees hits such as “Everybody Talks” and “Animal,” which had concert-goers jumping and singing along.
Hard rock band Dead Sara started things off early in the evening and did a great job at getting everyone on their feet and close to the stage.
The highlight of the band’s set was undoubtedly its hit single “Weatherman,” during which vocalist Emily Armstrong climbed on top of a tall amplifier and jumped off.
All three artists did a superb job. Flawless. Everyone gets an “A.”
You’ve got to love going to a show at the Avila Beach Golf Resort. The beach is right there, and there’s a wide open space with soft, well-kept grass to dance on. All three performers complimented the beachfront setting at some point during their sets.
There were plenty of portable toilets in close proximity (I never had to wait in a long line to use the restroom), and the alcoholic beverage prices were not as ridiculously expensive as other events I’ve been to. Plus, there was a decent variety of beers and cocktails to choose from.
The stage productions were well done. One hiccup I noticed was at the start of The Offspring’s performance: I had trouble hearing vocalist Dexter Holland’s voice. Thankfully, the sound must have been adjusted at some point soon after that, because it was no longer an issue by the time the band played “Come Out and Play (Keep ‘Em Separated).”
The lights were on cue at every point during the show. Bright blue, purple and yellow hues flashed when the songs busted into the chorus. The lights dimmed when the songs trickled down into a slower tempo.
Overall, it was refreshing to go to a show with a more subtle light production than the extravagance seen in electronic dance music performances, where the audience gets so caught up in the spectacular lights, the music becomes secondary. With Neon Trees and The Offspring’s performances, the lights were not too much, and not too little, but just right.
I’ve never liked mosh pits, or really understood them. A friendly shove or bump can sound fun on paper, but when you mix those with belligerently drunk college students, bad things can happen.
Take Wednesday night, for example. Being tall and claustrophobic, I normally find a spot in the crowd somewhat toward the back. I broke this tradition Wednesday night so I could get close photographs of the artists, and I knew mosh pits were inevitable with a punk-rock band like The Offspring. Sure enough, push came to shove and I found myself at the edge of the pit, pushing the moshers back toward the middle of the chaos and sneaking a photo whenever possible. I looked to my right, and a 5-foot-10, 190-pound man (plastered drunk) in his early 20s looked right at me and charged with a lowered head, linebacker style. If I hadn’t been looking in his direction and braced myself for impact, I could have fallen to the ground and ended up with the wind knocked out of me and a broken camera. Since when is lowering your head part of mosh pit etiquette?
Wholly speaking, being up close and personal with the moshers was not as discomforting as my encounter with said attendee (who I later saw sitting on the curb of Avila Beach Drive talking with police). When people fell down, others nearby went out of their way to help them up and ask if they were OK. Those people who knew how to be politely violent (and hold their liquor) at a punk-rock show earned a “B” for this concert’s atmosphere.
As I alluded to earlier, there were some bad eggs in the crowd who were intoxicated to the point where they were imposing on others’ attempts to have fun and be safe. However, anyone who has been to more than a few rock concerts knows that these encounters are inevitable. It’s the security staff’s job to weed these people out of the audience and send them packing.
I’ve noticed a trend with the Avila Beach Golf Resort’s security staff. They tend to intimidate the attendees at the entrance when they search for illegal substances and weapons by saying, “If you’re hiding anything you don’t want me to find, I will find it.”
Apparently, that promise isn’t always fulfilled. Judging by the abundance of joints passed and flasks sipped, I can’t give the security staff a great grade. Seeing as there weren’t any weapons confiscated or serious injuries throughout the night, they still passed. How some people managed to sneak in outside alcoholic beverages baffles me, but a couple marijuana cigarettes are hard to detect, and smoking weed doesn’t bother most people.