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The Offspring + Simple Plan @ SaskTel Centre, Saskatoon, Canada

Words: Miljan Milekić

Hardly anything describes The Offspring better than playing ‘Pretty Fly (for a White Guy)’ and ‘The Kids Aren’t Alright’ back to back. Both songs are taken from their magnum opus, 1998’s record ‘Americana,’ both were smashing hits, and both are an internal part of the band’s DNA. However, they can’t be more different. While one is an undisputed party anthem, a joke song making fun of “wannabe gangstas,” the other is a pure-blood punk rock rager, and one of the best punk songs ever written. However, it’s the contrast between those two tracks that makes The Offspring what they are, giving the perfect example of who they are as a band, and turning their concerts into massive parties as much as punk gigs.

Simple Plan @ SaskTel Centre, Saskatoon / Photo: Tamara Samardžić

The night itself started with Montréal pop punks Simple Plan, who just became the first band we have seen on two different continents, followed by the night headliner who joined them a bit later. With their blend of pop punk, the band proved to be a perfect addition to this show, bringing only the heavy guns. They quickly warmed up the crowd with three old school bangers – ‘I’d Do Anything,’ ‘Shut Up!,’ and ‘Jump,’ and from there, it looked like everything was smooth sailing.

Even the more pop-oriented songs like ‘Your Love Is a Lie’ and ‘Jet Lag,’ in which they had some help from their crew member and artist in her own right, AIRxYEL, were welcomed by the crowd which included everyone, from kids and teenagers to old punks. Simple Plan perfectly understood their role of party starters, throwing in songs more upbeat songs like ‘Iconic’ or ‘Summer Paradise,’ during which the band launched a couple of beach balls in the crowd, or firing up a medley of Smash Mouth‘s ‘All Star,’ Avril Lavigne‘s ‘Sk8er Boi,’ or The Killer‘s ‘Mr. Brightside.’ They even threw in the ‘What’s New, Scooby-Doo?,’ because after all, they are the Scooby-Doo theme band.”

Simple Plan @ SaskTel Centre, Saskatoon / Photo: Tamara Samardžić

The band obviously enjoys being on stage and playing shows. Frontman Pierre Bouvier made sure everyone knew that on multiple occasions, and especially just before ‘Where I Belong,’ when he recalled his love for skateboard and snowboard movies, moments he discovered The Offspring the first time, band’s early days, as well as the days of the legendary Vans Warped Tour, which was more than appropriate for the song released in collaboration with State Champs and We The Kings.

He took over drum duties on the tail end of ‘I’m Just A Kid,’ while drummer Chuck Comeau went crowdsurfing, before taking on acoustic guitar for the emotional intro in the set’s closer ‘Perfect.’ Along with ‘Welcome To My Life,’ played a bit earlier in the set, the song stands as the highlight of their set, sung by almost everyone in the crowd, and followed by thousands of cell phone lights.

The Offspring @ SaskTel Centre, Saskatoon / Photo: Miljan Milekić (iPhone photo)

Just as Simple Plan left the stage, The Offspring took over. Kiss cam, headbang cam, “Fuck You” cam, “Dance Fucker Dance” cam, gorilla slingshooting T-shirt from the stage, or a huge blimp flying around and dropping stuff to the fans made a perfect introduction to their sets itself. The band kicked off strongly with the trio of ‘Come Out and Play,’ ‘All I Want,’ and ‘Want You Bad,’ which was more than enough to get the crowd going. From there, the band just kept delivering bangers from their 30+ years-long career. Songs like ‘Staring at the Sun,’ ‘Original Prankster,’ ‘Bad Habit,’ or ‘Gotta Get Away’ are still strong, and still sound powerful coming from the stage.

The show itself was meant to be fun, and fun it was, with songs like ‘Let The Bad Times Roll,’ Ramones‘Blitzkrieg Bop,’ or the “Noodles plays with himself” segment only adding to the party-like feel. Coming up with a few melodies on the spot – which completely on accident sounded like Black Sabbath‘s ‘Paranoid’ and a couple of other classics, or playing ‘In the Hall of the Mountain King’ with an animated version of himself on the massive screen, Noodles took the center stage, giving the rest of the band a moment to catch a breath.

The Offspring @ SaskTel Centre, Saskatoon / Photo: Miljan Milekić (iPhone photo)

The slowed-down, piano version of the legendary ‘Gone Away’ saw the crowd singing every word with Dexter Holland, with thousands of cell phones lighting up the SaskTel Centre better than any spotlight, the song about grief and loss had a special meaning after years of a global pandemic which saw many people parting ways with their loved ones. With the show slowly coming to the end, the band once again turned it into a party with beach balls and massive balloons during the ska number ‘Why Don’t You Get a Job?’. Another legendary track – ‘(Can’t Get My) Head Around You,’ was the first to follow, before the duo of legendary tracks from the beginning of this article. The mandatory encore saw the band delivering two more bangers – ‘You’re Gonna Go Far, Kid,’ and ‘Self Esteem’ before leaving the stage for good.

Although not in their prime, or the mainstream sensation they once were, The Offspring are still able to deliver a great show, filled with legendary songs. On this tour, they decided to do much more, by making the whole evening fun and exciting, with million little tricks. Many of them, done by another band may have been considered cheesy or cheap, but with The Offspring, they seemed so natural and fitting. Once again, it’s the contrast between fun and serious, jokes and heavy topics that makes this band what it is, and why so many people love them.

The Offspring @ SaskTel Centre, Saskatoon / Photo: Miljan Milekić (iPhone photo)

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