The Offspring was one of my bucketlist bands. The kind of band that maybe they aren’t my favorite and I don’t need to see them a thousand times, but I definitely want to see them live before I die. They’re touring with Sublime with Rome later this summer, so I had planned on catching them that tour, but then I got an email from 924 Gilman.
Gilman is my favorite venue in the world for a handful of reasons. It’s an all-ages punk club that offers a safe space for teenagers who might not have anywhere else to go, and they only allow bands who aren’t signed to major labels to play in order to offer these bands a chance to play live that they might not get otherwise. But it’s also a legendary venue. Gilman is where bands like Operation Ivy and Green Day got their starts. There’s so much history in this place, and I love it.
But they’re in trouble, and have been for a few years. The area surrounding the venue in Berkeley is gentrifying. The venue can no longer afford to keep door prices low, pay bands what they deserve, and keep up with ever-rising rent payments. So they have a dedicated fundraising committee focused on keeping those problems at bay for as long as possible. They want to buy the building or at least SOME building, somewhere.
So when I got the email that I could see the Offspring play Ignition front to back at a new bar in downtown Berkeley, Cornerstone, while also supporting Gilman, I jumped on that so fast.
I assumed Day Labor was a local band chosen to open the show. They’re from Pittsburg, CA, just a little ways inland, so I was correct, but where they’re from doesn’t change the fact that they were REALLY GOOD.
They played ska punk, complete with a brass section. You don’t see that often enough in today’s music scene. I love it. I think we need more of it.
The brass section was my favorite for other reasons as well. When they weren’t playing, they would sing and get really into it, and it was super entertaining. Gotta love when a band truly loves what they’re doing.
The crowd was all feeling them. We had a nice pit going. I decided that the reason I don’t go to the gym is because skanking in a circle pit is exercise enough. I lost my breath so many times, but it was too much fun to stop dancing.
Day Labor really impressed me and I would definitely check them out again if given the chance.
Dandelion Massacre was weird. I like weird, so I enjoyed them, but I wish I could say the same for the rest of the crowd. I would have pegged them to be more of a band opening for World/Inferno rather than the Offspring.
They had a weird sound and played weird instruments, like a string on a stick and a washboard. There were also some less weird instruments like a mandolin and ukulele, but you still don’t see those every day.
“We’re a sound guy’s nightmare. None of our instruments plug in and we need 15 mics.”
“Electricity isn’t punk.”
There were two vocalists, a guy and a girl. The girl screamed a bit, and she was super cute. I liked her. I tend to always like the girls.
But people in the crowd were booing and being super rude. I’d never seen a live band booed before, and I go to a lot of shows. I couldn’t believe it. These are real live people standing in front of you, and you’re going to boo them? Really?
I felt so bad. The whole mood in the room changed with that. But luckily the band were good sports and kept playing regardless.
“We’ll just shoot ourselves onstage and that’ll be the performance!”
Overall I did really like them, but as they explained their sound set up, they were not plugged in to anything, so it was a bit hard to hear them. My only complaint is that I wish I could’ve heard them better. But they supposedly play better in living rooms, so that might be the way to go.
Because this was a benefit show for 924 Gilman, it had to be special. It’s not just your average Offspring show. They were playing their second album Ignition front to back.
They explained it using Green Day as an example. Dookie was the album that made them take off, but Kerplunk! came right before it, and is equally as good, if not better. Personally, I’m a Kerplunk! girl all the way. And that’s the album that came out while Green Day was still playing Gilman regularly.
Like Kerplunk!, Ignition was their album just before Smash, the album that brought them into the mainstream. And weirdly enough, both sets of albums came out in the same years so it was a super appropriate comparison (’92 and ’94, respectively).
The Offspring are originally from SoCal, but apparently they really got their start at Gilman, and they had a better following in the Bay Area than in their own hometown.
I’d listened to Ignition a few times in my car the day of the show to mentally prepare myself. It’s a great album. The crowd seemed to all be diehard Offspring fans, because there wasn’t a single person in that venue who didn’t know every word to every song on that album.
Side note: I really love when bands play a certain album front to back. An album is released as one full piece, and I’ve always felt like it was meant to be appreciated that way. I have a whole new appreciation for albums after seeing them played live as one complete piece, the way it was presented to us years (or decades) ago. There’s just something magical about it. You know exactly what song is coming next, because you’ve heard it so many times already. (Unless the band is the Matches and they randomly throw in “Jack Slap Cheer” right in the middle of Decomposer. Because why not.)
I consider the Offspring to be a pretty monumental band, and this was a fairly small venue. I’ve been in smaller for sure, but there’s no way this was a normal capacity venue for them. It was fantastic.
They kept saying we were the best crowd because we actually knew all the songs on Ignition and were going nuts for all of them. We’re real fans, not festival fans.
“We wanna bring you guys to every show. We’ll get you your own bus.”
I would be okay with that.
They were really happy we all like “Kick Him When He’s Down.” They told us they’ve played that live before, but it never goes over as well as it did here. I found that kinda funny because it’s probably my favorite song on the album.
The crowd was absolutely insane the entire night. There were about a thousand crowdsurfers and stagedivers, and at one point I had a large man dropped on me, which knocked me to the floor. Yes, the 100lb. girl can lift this man by herself, send him her way. Great idea.
The best was when a fan jumped onstage and stole frontman Dexter Holland’s beer. Like, he actually grabbed the beer and jumped back into the crowd. Dexter called him out, but obviously he didn’t give it back.
“You know they’re gonna wanna hear new songs, right?”
They followed the Ignition set with some of their hits like “Come Out and Play,” “The Kids Aren’t Alright,” “Why Don’t You Get a Job?” and “You’re Gonna Go Far Kid.” It was pretty much another full set.
Then they closed with “Self Esteem.” Dexter told us a story about a time when the crowd was so loud during this entire song that he didn’t even have to sing at all.
“I think this crowd could be that loud.”
Well that was a terrific way to cross the Offspring off my bucketlist. And I got to support my favorite venue in the process! This was one of those shows you know people are jealous for not having been at. Even in the days that followed when I told friends how I spent my Thursday night, they couldn’t believe I was there. Me neither, dudes. It was awesome.