In 1984, two high school kids – Dexter Holland and Greg Kriesel – attended a Social Distortion concert in California.
These young men were so inspired by the local punk-rock band, that they began to make music of their own. Holland became a vocalist, and Kriesel started playing bass. From this, icons were formed – a legendary band that is now known as ‘The Offspring’.
The Offspring is a punk-rock band, perhaps most notorious for their songs: “Self Esteem”, “You’re Gonna Go Far, Kid”, and “Pretty Fly For a White Guy”. The band is now known worldwide, and they have 9 albums, and 15 awards to their name.
On July 24th, 2016, The Offspring made their debut performance at the Brooklyn Bowl. Although they have been performing in Vegas for 30 years, 2016 was their first time ever performing at this venue.
The Brooklyn Bowl is a bowling alley, located in the heart of the Strip. On concert days, the space is turned into a performance arena. If you ever attend a show there, once you pick up your tickets, you go up some escalators to reach the concert venue. Directly to the top left of the escalators is a restaurant with mouth-wateringly appealing food that I wish I had time to try. If you continue straight from the escalators then you will get to the stage area for the concert. There are numerous different parts to the concert venue: on the ground level is the main audience standing area, and directly to the left of that is the VIP Lounge. If you were to continue upstairs, there is an even more exclusive VIP area, where you can watch the concert from a floor above everybody else.
For The Offspring concert, the doors opened at 7pm, however the warm-up act, Mercy Music, did not start playing until 8pm. Now, if you were to assume this wait would be frustrating, then you are highly mistaken. Not only did the DJ have incredible taste in music, but I also counted at least 5 separate bars where you are able to buy drinks. With great tunes, a cold beer, and plenty of room to move around, you are able to scope out the best view of the stage, while chatting to your friends, and having a blooming great time.
At 8pm, Mercy Music took to the stage. They are another punk-rock band, but with a far more illusive online presence. They were founded in 2012, and the only official description I could find of the band was: “We play rock and roll at loud volumes. Occasional guitar solos”. Evidently the band has a dry sense of humor, and refreshingly little tolerance for excessive social media marketing. Their set began, and it was the perfect vibe to get the audience pumped. The style of Mercy Music is not that dissimilar to The Offspring, with a very classic American rock vibe – they have a lot of energy, seamless transitions between songs, and groupies to boot. At this stage the crowd area was filling up, but there was still plenty of empty space throughout the room.
There was a break between 8:40pm till 9:15pm, when the Brooklyn Bowl team changed the setting of the stage to prepare for The Offspring’s performance. By the time The Offspring was ready to start, the room was packed from wall to wall with people. The band opened up with “You’re Gonna Go Far, Kid”, and immediately the crowd went wild.
Audience members were people of all ages; some were die-hard fans of The Offspring since the beginning, and others were new enthusiasts. The best way I can describe the audience is respectfully rowdy. Pretty much everyone was inebriated in some sort of way, on drugs, alcohol, and everything in-between. Although almost everyone was off their face, nobody really caused trouble.
Almost directly after The Offspring began their set, a mosh pit formed in the crowd. For those of you unfamiliar with the term ‘mosh pit’, it is somewhat of a surreal ritual. In a mosh pit, members of the audience form a circle, and within that circle, people purposefully bash into each other, aggressively pushing others in the circle, and willingly being pushed. It sounds extremely violent, and it is, but it is perhaps one of the safest forms of violence bar martial arts. If someone were pushed so violently that they fell down, members of the mosh pit would keep others away from the fallen person to protect them, and they would promptly band together to pull that person back to their feet again. Furthermore, if somebody lost an item in the mosh pit – such as a phone, wallet, or a shoe – whoever found it would hold it up high in the middle of the circle, until the owner reclaimed their item. Yes the mosh pit it potentially dangerous, but all participants welcomed that danger, and thoroughly enjoyed it.
If you do not enjoy being pushed while watching a concert, one way to avoid getting affected by the mosh pit is to stay near the back half of the room. Anyone in front of the mosh pit, closer to the stage, got pushed up against the barrier anytime someone banged into him or her. The other way to completely avoid getting pushed around in a rock concert is to purchase VIP tickets; they are more expensive than regular tickets, but they are a sure-fire way to stay safe, and have a great view of the stage in the process.
The Offspring constantly interacted with the audience, feeding off of their wild energy. Suddenly the music stopped, and you could truly hear how loud the crowd was – their roar was deafening. As Holland listened to the crowd’s screams, he looked around the room in awe, and finally said, “You guys are fucking crazy!” The band had an incredibly great sense of humor and wit when talking to the audience. The musicians noted that the bowling alley next to the crowd area was completely empty, and proclaimed that the concert was “so much better than bowling”.
What is incredible about the band is that they sound exactly the same as they did 30 years ago. Ageing has not affected their voices, or ability to play music whatsoever. There was only one sign of ageing among the band (other than physical), and that was the fact they had family members – wives, children, and grandchildren as young as babies – supporting them on the stage, as opposed to groupies. Their priorities had clearly changed over the years.
The effortlessness and polish that The Offspring had when playing was exceptional. The musical and performative experience that the band had gained over the years was evident. There were endless guitar changes; every song Holland switched out the type of guitar he was using, signifying how aptly he had mastered the art of using the perfect musical vessel for each song.
The night wound to a close, and the band left the stage, much to the disappointment of the raucous audience – none of whom left. They called for an encore for more than 5 minutes, to no avail. And then it happened; The Offspring returned to the stage for three more songs, ending on “Self Esteem”. Yet again, the crowd went crazy. The songs were fantastic, and the audience had certainly gotten their moneys worth. But that was not the end of the night. There was one more surprise. The band passed the mic to a gentleman in the audience. He spoke to his girlfriend, saying he brought her to the concert because The Offspring is her favorite band, and he wants to spend the rest of his life with her. Then, he proposed. She said yes. The crowd erupted. Holland announced this was the first time anyone had ever proposed at one of his concerts – a great achievement for the happy couple. To the lovebirds who are now engaged, if you happen to be reading this article, congratulations!
It was a wonderfully romantic end to a truly magical evening. If you ever get a chance to see either of these bands live, I could not recommend it enough.
If you would like to find out anymore about Mercy Music or The Offspring, follow these links:
The Offspring: http://offspring.co
Mercy Music: http://www.mercymusicforyou.com