Chill on the Hill 2014 Part III: Bad Religion, A Day to Remember, and The Offspring

It was finally time for the three headlining acts to start their sets and the amphitheater had filled to the maximum capacity in preparation. First up was Bad Religion and from their first song I found myself wondering ‘why haven’t I been listening to these guys before this?’ I’ve heard of the band before and have probably listened to numerous songs on the radio here and there but had never actually gone out of my way to check them out and after catching them live I’m not really sure how this happened.

First of all, their live show is AMAZING. It’s clear why Bad Religion has been around for so long: they know how to get the crowd excited. The pit was a never ending wave of crowd surfers while there was quit the mosh circle on the lawn throughout the band’s entire set. Greg Graffin was continuously remarking on the young age of the crowd (most of whom were there for the next band), stating at one point, “This song is older than every band you know,” before jumping into “Stranger than Fiction”. The audience’s energy seemed to make the guys quite happy, Graffin commenting a few times on all the female slam dancers in the pit and the extensive people moshing on the lawn. Bad Religion was a great way to head into the final three acts of the night and I’ve made sure to set aside some time to start listening to their impressive discography.

The amphitheater buzzing with excitement for the next band to take the stage, going crazy as soon as the lights went out and “Also sprach Zarathustra” (aka the opening music for 2001: A Space Odyssey) started playing, announcing that A Day To Remember was finally taking the stage. Jeremy McKinnon’s voice filled the space with just one word, “MICHIGAN!!!!”. I had thought that by this time most people would have been worn out from the already long day of great music but the mass of people erupted in cheers and applause as a stream of confetti filled the air and the guys kicked off their set with “The Downfall of Us All”.

The band didn’t seem to have a problem keeping up with their fans’ energy. They did everything to keep the crowd involved from asking everyone to sing to demanding the largest circle pit Michigan had ever seen. There seemed to be a never-ending supply of confetti raining down as well as a bunch of beach balls released during “Right Back At It Again”. I may not have been a huge A Day To Remember fan before the show but the amount of fun I had during their set has rocketed them up to the top of my ‘must see live’ list. The guys even slowed things down, doing an acoustic version of “If It Means a Lot to You” which, even with a packed amphitheater, managed to feel intimate. This was the second time A Day To Remember got to headline one of the days of Chill on the Hill and they mentioned that it was a special event for them because it was when they had found out that they could put out their newest album, Common Courtesy, last year. The kick of energy from A Day To Remember’s set was just what I needed to prepare me for the last act of the night.

I was a bit surprised when what looked like more than half of the venue cleared out after A Day To Remember finished up. Granted, most of them probably weren’t even alive when The Offspring released their album, Smash, which they’d be playing in it’s entirety, but still, how can you not stick around to see The Offspring perform? As someone who discovered their musical tastes in the 90’s there was basically nothing that would have made me leave before getting to see them take the stage. Soon enough the lights were going out and the introductory voice over was announcing that it was time to rock and roll.

There were few breaks between tracks as The Offspring blazed through Smash from beginning to end, though Dexter Holland and Noodles made time for a little onstage banter. Those who did stick around were just as excited as I was, chanting the band’s name any time there was a break that lasted more than a few seconds between songs. After finishing Smash, Holland asked Noodles to describe the crowd. Noodles replied with “dripping wet….” before adding that the audience packing Freedom Hill was “sultry”. After finishing Smash, the guys covered some other big hits including “The Kids Aren’t Alright”, “Pretty Fly (For A White Guy)”, and “You’re Gonna Go Far Kid” with each song sang back louder than the one before it. Honestly, I can’t think of a better way to have ended day one of Chill on the Hill and can’t wait for The Offspring to come back around so that I can do it all again.

Don’t forget to check out the rest of our Chill on the Hill reviews:
Part I: Bristol Street, Sleeper Agent, and My Goodness
Part II: Portugal. The Man, Sycamour, Grouplove, and The Bots
Part IV: Hollow & Akimbo, Kyng, The Orwells, and Skaters
Part V: Brick + Mortar, USS, Taking Back Sunday, and Silverstein
Part VI: Chevelle, Awolnation, and Rise Against