What a day to kick off the final day at the Sunset Strip Music Festival. Not only was it scorching hot outside, but it was the most jammed-packed day of the fest. It was clear the heat did not stop the diehard fans of bands including Bad Religion and The Offspring from filling the streets along the infamous Sunset Strip.
SSMF is in its fifth year and this three-day celebration of music is held along the Sunset Strip in West Hollywood; the same place many of these bands got their start.
This year, the big bash included one of my favorite punk rock bands from 1979, Bad Religion. Bad Religion is known for their three-part harmonies and epic guitar solos. In fact, on Saturday they lived up to their reputation. The lead singer Greg Graffin said, “we are here, just not as young as we used to be.” It turns out that the aging process has not affected his voice in any way. Griffin’s voice was both soft and alluring. Everyone was enjoying themselves and Bad Religion has a way of making the audience engage in every note and lyric. For instance, when the song, “Infected” from the record 21st Century (Digital Boy) came on everyone naturally started singing along. Griffin also performed tracks from most of his earlier work and favorites from the record Stranger Than Fiction. Overall, the guitar solos were impeccable and I think a huge reason this band has remained so popular is because of their empathetic lyrics. The lyrics convey controversial messages about religion and anti-conformity that have universal and timeless appeal. In my opinion, they are one of the best punk rock bands of the 21st century and their record sales certainly back up this claim. I was overjoyed to have the opportunity to see them play live in a place with such great musical roots.
In addition, I was lucky enough to make my way to the middle of the outdoor stage a few hours later to see The Offspring. They performed songs from some of their most popular albums including The Offspring, Smash, Americana and Conspiracy of One. The crowd was hyped to see them perform hits “Come out and Play”, “Self Esteem”, and “Gotta Get Away.” I felt like I was transported back to the 90’s throughout their entire show. The crowd was going crazy to see them all together and pumped. The lead singer, Dexter Holland, had dynamic vocals and gave an energetic performance. The band took the stage just as the sun began to set and the stage lights aided the already energetic crowd get in the mood for the killer performance that followed. Whenever they hit the stage, in any setting, every crowd goes crazy proving their punk sound has never died. It is no wonder they have sold over 16 million records! Feeling like I was back in the 90’s all afternoon certainly made me want to dust off all my old CD’s and break out a boombox.
Other great performances from newcomers Dead Sara and Terraplane Sun brought the festival full circle for me. It is a celebration of music, of being a struggling artist and getting your shot here in Hollywood, and giving back when you make it big. It was a great three days and I am looking forward to next year’s lineup already.