The Offspring•Winona Fighter•September 7, 2023•USANA Amphitheatre
Reviewed and Photographed by Alisha Gregson
The Offspring brought incredible energy to USANA Amphitheatre on September 7th and gave their fans an amazing performance. The band had originally planned on performing at USANA weeks earlier, on August 3rd with Sum 41 and Simple Plan. During that performance, a storm began slowly rolling in as the supporting bands took turns on the stage. By the time The Offspring were set to perform, the weather was bad enough to require an evacuation of the venue. The show was postponed before the crowd ever got a glimpse of the Headliners. The Offspring promised they would be back, and they didn’t leave their eager fans waiting too long. On September 7th, the weather was perfect and The Offspring fans of all ages returned and filled the amphitheater.
I was out of town the week of their original concert date. I was disappointed that I wouldn’t have the chance to go. When they announced their rescheduled date I was excited for the opportunity to see them. I still remember the first time I ever heard The Offspring. It was 1998 and I had just turned 9. I was living in Southern California, about 45 minutes from their hometown of Garden Grove. It was the day after Christmas, and I was setting up my brand-new boom box. It was a pretty sweet one. The boom box had a CD player, 2 slots for cassette tapes, and detachable speakers that could be moved about 10 inches before you ran out of wire. I was so excited to turn on the radio and I started turning the dial searching for a clear signal.
I can’t remember the station, but I will never forget the first song that played through my speakers – “Pretty Fly (For a White Guy). The next song was “Believe,” by Cher, just in case you were curious. A few months later, my older brother had become a pretty big fan of The Offspring. He decided to use the money he got for his 12th birthday to buy their Americana CD. Unfortunately, the CD didn’t last long before my mom found it and snapped it in half. That was after she sat him down and read all the lyrics to every song. She wasn’t as much of an Offspring fan I guess. Please don’t tell her I went to this concert.
Sum 41 and Simple Plan both had their chance to perform before the original concert was canceled. So they did not return this time around. Instead, The Offspring invited Winona Fighter to open for them. The Nashville-based punk band told the crowd this was their largest show yet. They expressed their gratitude for the opportunity to open for a band they loved so much. They played a high-energy set of 10 songs. Winona Fighter got their biggest reaction when they began a cover of Blink 182’s “Dammit.” They also played “Song 2,” by Blur. Winona Fighter ended their performance with “Nyc,” and “You Look Like A Drunk Phoebe Bridgers.” They had a lot of fun on stage. I thought they did an excellent job getting everyone excited for the rest of the night.
At most concerts, the downtime between bands looks pretty much the same. Music plays over the house speakers, lines for concessions and merch fill up, and friends chat as they wait for the headliner. At The Offspring concert, however, it was a little different. The intermission wasn’t much of a downtime at all, but more like an interactive halftime show. It started with a guy in a gorilla costume on stage shooting t-shirts out into the audience. Then there was some Offspring Trivia, Kiss Cam, Booty Cam, and F*** You Cam (middle fingers in the air.) At one point as I was waiting near the soundboard getting my camera equipment ready, I saw the guy in the gorilla costume and the camera guy with a few fans not too far from me.
This was during the Headbang Cam, and I watched for a minute as the gorilla and the surrounding fans headbanged and appeared on the big screens. Just a minute later I was caught by surprise when the gorilla was suddenly at my side. With a cameraman 2 feet in front of me. “Let’s headbang,” he said, and I began a very pathetic attempt at headbanging while my real focus was on completely hiding my face behind my hair. I am not a big fan of that sort of public attention. After the longest few minutes of my life, the duo moved on to find fans who probably had much better big-screen energy.
It was finally time for The Offspring. Fans began cheering as a countdown on the screens had only a few seconds left. “Take On Me,’ by A-ha began to play over the speakers, and the band members made their way onto the stage. They started strong with “Come Out And Play” from their 1994 album, Smash, and the massive crowd at USANA went wild. Although their tour is named after their most recent album, “Let The Bad Times Roll,” The Offspring clearly understood what their fans wanted to hear. They brought us back to the 90s with their hour-and-a-half set made up of mostly old hits. Out of the 20 songs they played, only 2 of them, “Let The Bad Times Roll,” and “Lullaby,” were from their newest album. Their choice to focus on the real crowd-pleasers contributed to the incredible energy that was present throughout the night.
Their interaction with each other and the audience was an aspect of the show I loved. I enjoyed their back-and-forth banter, and although it was scripted, it was a fun addition. They commented on how it was the best makeup show in history, with a record-breaking crowd. By their calculations, over 1 million people were in attendance, which blows my mind considering the venue has a capacity of around 20,000. There is a chance that their numbers were a little off, but the place was packed and it was a really exciting crowd.
Throughout the night, fans danced and sang along with The Offspring. From their Americana album, they played some of their biggest hits, “Staring At The Sun,” “Why Don’t You Get a Job,” “The Kids Aren’t All Right,” and of course, “Pretty Fly (For a White Guy).” “Bad Habit,” and “Gotta Get Away,” from their Smash album were a couple of other fan favorites. They also performed a couple of covers, including a very well-done cover of “Blitzkrieg Bop” by the Ramones. During this performance, the Gorilla returned to the stage with a sign that read “Hey! Ho! Let’s Go!” The audience got into this one, and the energy was amazing.
To finish off the night, The Offspring performed a 3 song encore, saving “Self Esteem” for the very end. They were having so much fun on stage, and I am sure the crowd would have stuck around for another 20 songs. They sounded great, and are just as entertaining and impressive as they were in the 90’s. The Offspring gathered together at the center of the stage and took a bow while receiving well-deserved applause. “Sweet Caroline” began playing as they walked off stage, and fans from the pit all the way back to the lawn began dancing together and singing along. It was an awesome way to end the night.