Aftershock 2014 loves the ’90s, as the rock festival at Sacramento’s Discovery Park made clear by booking Limp Bizkit (6:45 p.m.), the Offspring (7:50 p.m.) and Weezer (8:55 p.m.) as its Saturday headliners.
Here’s an update on these bands who share an era, a “novelty” quality and a tendency to inspire, when their names are mentioned, a response of, “Oh wow, they’re still around?”
LIMP BIZKIT: The most interesting aspect of this band was and is its weirdo, costumed guitarist Wes Borland. But Fred Durst always grabbed the attention, as compelled by the spotlight as by the “Nookie.”
How does one describe Durst? “Frat boy” sounds too academic. “Jacksonville, Fla. native” is telling, yet clinical. “Scourge” is a bit strong.
He has positive qualities. For instance, he has never let limited singing abilities get in the way of his ambition. And he’s no dummy. He directed the 2007 coming-of-age indie film “The Education of Charlie Banks,” starring Jesse Eisenberg.
So he probably knew better than to record the retrograde, profanity-laden 2013 Limp Bizkit song “Ready To Go.” In it, Durst suggests that rumors of rock’s demise are unfounded because he, Durst, is “back in the zone.” He also rap-brags of “drinking gin until we pass out and fall on the floor” – thus inspiring concern for his liver, now in its mid-40s – and of a long-ago (alleged) tryst with Britney Spears.
Of course Durst knows better. He calls himself “Freddy D., the public enemy,” in “Go,” thus acknowledging his past as a controversial figure while remaining self-aggrandizing. Classic Freddy D.
THE OFFSPRING: In the late 1990s, they were the bleached-blond SoCal punk surfer equivalent of Weird Al, with goofy videos for “Why Don’t You Get a Job?” and “Pretty Fly (for a White Guy).”
There’s no harm in tuneful, radio-friendly whimsy. But “Smash,” the Offspring’s breakthrough 1994 album, had promised more. Especially the Nirvana-esque “Self-Esteem.” There was a plaintive, even poignant quality to Dexter Holland’s entreaty to listeners: “The more you suffer, the more it shows you really care, riiight?”
The band now takes years between albums, but those albums offer interesting turns. The hit single “You’re Gonna Go Far, Kid,” off 2008’s “Rise and Fall, Rage and Grace,” is a darkly tinged cautionary tale. More musically complex than most of the band’s hits, the song sounds modern and vital yet still Offspring-catchy.
WEEZER: Though Weezer initially seems like an odd fit for the hard-rock Aftershock festival, Weezer singer-songwriter and lead guitarist Rivers Cuomo does bust out riffs amid the horn-rimmed glasses, sweaters and wry observations.
A guitar punch starts off “Back to the Shack,” from the forthcoming album “Everything Will Be Alright in the End.” The song is a wisdom-filled tribute to the persistent rock ’n’ roll spirit.
Cuomo yearns, in the song, for simpler times, singing that he wants to be “rocking out like it’s ’94” (year of the Weezer hits “Buddy Holly” and “Say It Ain’t So”). Because it’s Weezer, there is a touch of irony to the lyrics – an undercurrent of living in the past. But only a touch.
Cuomo, like Durst, is looking back to glory days, but with thoughtfulness and perspective, not braggadocio.