Outdoor Concert Season has Arrived!
The Pacific Northwest has a stereotype of being a grey, depressing place, while that’s true for 8-9 months, it makes us appreciate the summer more. Once the sun starts shining that means it’s time for outdoor concerts and music festivals! And 2018 is off to one hell of a start, with The Offspring expanding their annual Sabroso Craft Beer, Taco & Music Festival from one stop in Orange County to seven stops, including a merciful Saturday stop at the White River Amphitheatre just outside of Seattle. Aside from the beer and solid line up of bands, there was Lucha Libre wrestling between sets!
Someone Has to Go First
My apologies to Los Kung Fu Monkeys for missing their set. I made my way from the front gate down to the floor just in time for the start of Unwritten Law’s set, which they tore through. You can tell a festival lineup was booked well when sing-alongs are happening early in the day. Bassist Jonny Grill even sported local Seattle punk band Burn Burn Burn’s shirt.
I have to admit when I saw Lit on the tour poster, I was a little confused and dismissive of the idea of them playing. Then I saw them play and felt stupid real quick for second-guessing the booking. Starting things off with a cover of ‘American Girl’, they continued with a solid set of fun summer concert songs.
It should come as a shock to no one who has ever read a review of mine on this site that I love punk, and I really love Against Me! Watching the band grow, change and branch out with each album has been a joy to witness. When I found out I’d have the chance to not just photograph them again, but to do so not in a tiny, dark club, I knew I had to be there. And they didn’t disappoint, delivering a raucous set of amazing music. I’ve seen them play with different lineups, at different sized venues and have never been let down. This Saturday at Sabroso was no exception and I look forward to seeing them when they come back through the Northwest in the near future.
Subtley Need Not Apply
Punk Rock comes in many varieties and appeals to many people for many reasons. Some might come for the sociopolitical commentary of CRASS, Dead Kennedys, and Bad Religion. Some come for the outright, pissed off aggression of Black Flag, OFF!, Murphy’s Law, and Sick Of It All. And some come to party, drink beer with their friends and surf. This is where Pennywise comes in, part pissed off teenager, part laid back surfer/skater, they’ve always been about one thing, having a good time. Sometimes that comes in the form of giving the middle finger to all authority or hoisting a beer up in the memory of a dear departed friend. Either way Pennywise delivers a solid set of their brand of punk, leaving their devoted fans happy and excited for the next time they come to town.
Everything in Moderation Including Moderation
Prior to the early 2000s the image most people had in their mind of competitive eaters, was on the larger side. That all changed when Takeru Kobayashi become a cultural phenomenon, smashing eating records while maintaining a skinny frame. Much like the idea of a punk festival taking place at an amphitheatre in the 1980s, Kobayashi transcended the bounds of his craft. Before him, there was no pop culture figure to represent that world. What does this have to do with a music festival? I have no idea, but he was there to put on a demonstration of his skills, inhaling up to 5 tacos at a time.
A Different Kind of Americana
Since the 1950s the American Dream has been something to strive for, placed in a stranglehold by stubborn people. Rather than be adaptable to each person, the typical idea looked more like a boring Norman Rockwell painting. People tried to deny the ugly underbelly sitting just below the surface of their white picket suburban homes. The willfully ignorant people who persisted this vision of non-inclusion for anybody who didn’t fit in, held on tight for fear of it changing. This phenomenon persists to this day, just take a look at current political ideologies and fear of the other has persisted in visceral forms.
You might be wondering what this has to do with The Offspring and some silly taco, beer, wrestling, punk festival. Walking around I noticed something: families. The American Dream has changed from one single vision to a fractured, beautiful kaleidoscope of diversity. There is no right way to achieve what makes us fulfilled and punk has embraced this since day one, breeding a sense of belonging rather than exclusion. This idea is being passed down to new generations, developing their own idea of what it means to succeed.
The Offspring put on one hell of a show. Starting things off with the title track from Americana, grabbing the audience by the collective throat for 65 minutes of kick-ass music. Delivering a career spanning set focusing mainly on Smash and Americana. They even threw some Ixnay for the Hombre, including a stripped down piano version of ‘Gone Away’.
It’s easy to see why this band has been around and stayed popular for so long. They’ve walked that fine line between punk and mainstream rock that’s allowed them stay relevant and expose larger audiences to a wide variety of amazing bands. I for one hope this festival grows to more than seven cities next year. Allowing more people to enjoy a day of fun, tacos, beer, and great music.