Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Live review: The Offspring, Sum 41

Posted By on Wed, Jul 15, 2009 at 3:22 PM

The Offspring with Sum 41

Uptown Amphitheatre

July 14, 2009

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The Deal: Two '90s punk/rock outfits visit the Uptown Amphitheatre as part of the "Shit is Fucked Up Tour."

The Good: I'll be honest and say my main reason for going was to check out the new venue and I was quickly impressed. There isn't much of a view of the skyline, but the seating is fantastic — there isn't a bad view in the house. It's cozy enough to feel kind of intimate — I imagine acoustic shows will be phenomenal in that setting — and big enough for a couple of rowdy rock bands to roll through. Oddly, the venue's VIP section is the same VIP section as The Fillmore (yep, inside.)

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I missed Frank Turner's set, so my night kicked off with the punk rock attitude of Sum 41. Singer Deryck Whibley had plenty of crowd interaction, as he even invited four fans up on to the side of the stage to watch their set. He's got charisma that makes up for a lack of vocal quality and heavy guitar talent. But hey, he admits it. He challenged an audience member to go on stage and play better, but the audience member declined. The band made the most of its 45-minute set to get the crowd warmed up, soaked with water from bottles Whibley tossed toward the crowd and singing along from time to time, ending with "Fat Lip."

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The Offspring played a one-hour set that was followed by two encore songs. The crowd from the lawn was invited to fill the seats in the half-sold out amphitheatre and it added to the rock show feel in an intimate setting. The band played a good number of songs from all its albums as singer Dexter Holland moved about the stage as much as he could. The band was surrounded by a variety of strobes, lasers and three big LED screens in the back that often showed cartoon images from the band's albums and videos. "Genocide," "Come Out and Play," "Gotta Get Away," Pretty Fly for a White Guy" and others had the crowd pumping their fists and singing along. A brief intermission — complete with a juggler and two live donkeys on stage — led to a handful of songs before the band's two-song encore. Guitarist Noodles noted the crowd was one of the best they've seen in the Carolinas before the band ended the night with "Want You Bad" and "Self Esteem."

The Bad: OK, I'm ready for everyone to stop complaining about the beer prices. At this venue and Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre, it's $8 for a 12-ounce beer and $11 for a 24-ounce beer. Are the prices beyond outrageous? Yes. Will complaining do anything? No. My suggestion — don't pay those prices. I love when people complain, but then still spend $22 for two beers. If no one was paying those prices, they'd have to drop them. But if I had a venue with people stupid enough to pay that much for a beer, why would I lower them? Someone once told me, "Don't pay more for one beer than you would for a six pack." Good advice.

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Back to the show... Sum 41. Can someone tell Whibley that he's not 13 anymore and saying the word "fuck" as many times as possible and spitting all over the stage is not appealing to fans, or anyone else. Seriously, I've never seen anyone with such an overactive saliva gland in my life. And every other word out of his mouth was "fuck." I'm sure that when they were in their teens it worked and the kids loved it, but now you're almost 30. Grow up.

The two main complaints I've heard from fans of The Offspring are that the show was too short and Holland's vocals were shot. I agree that the band's set was a bit abbreviated and that Holland's vocals weren't fantastic, but they've been doing this for 25 years and Holland is in his 40s. I'll cut him a bit of slack for that.

The Verdict: Not a bad show. Both bands put on a good show and I was happy to experience the new venue on such a fantastic night (weather-wise).

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