Say what you will about the summer of 2014: "Fancy," Ariana Grande's intergalactic adventures and new fave Australian import 5 Seconds of Summer may have dominated your earbuds, but it's been a stellar season for pop-punk fans, too. Warped Tour celebrated its twentieth anniversary this year, and that beloved circus fueled by power chords and mosh pits brought forth one of its most varied lineups yet, featuring up-and-coming talent and familiar faces alike.
But running parallel to Warped and somewhat under the radar were two tours that capitalized on pop-punk's bottomless enthusiasm and energy: Summerland and the Summer Nationals, two cross-country jaunts that brought Everclear, The Offspring, Bad Religion and a handful of other '90s notables back to the top of your playlist.
If you caught the Summer Nationals (The Offspring, Bad Religion, Pennywise and The Vandals) or Summerland (Everclear's annual tradition, which featured the alt gods as headliners, plus Soul Asylum, Eve 6 and Spacehog) or both, you were met with a hefty dose of predictable nostalgia and sing-alongs galore. (Try to make it through Eve 6 performing "Inside Out" live and in-the-flesh without mouthing the words at the very least. We dare you.) That said, the best part of catching this long-since graduated class from Alt Rock/Pop-Punk High? They're still making music, and it's great. These bands have found a way to tour relentlessly on the strength of the old hits while continuing to craft new songs and keep your favorite riffs from the '90s alive.
Here, you'll find our favorite songs courtesy of the Summer Nationals and Summerland, but with a time-warping twist full of context and factoids from this genre-defining period in American rock. They prove the staying power of pop-punk, from Americana to Spacehog and every scream in between.
1994: year of Green Day's Dookie, Nirvana's now-iconic MTV Unplugged session and Smash, the record that would catapult The Offspring into the mainstream ethos. It's not like The Offspring were rookies at this point: The Huntington Beach punk band had scored a record deal with Epitaph and released two albums before Smash. But their third effort is what caught the attention of radio jockeys across the country as evidenced by the uptick in plays "Self Esteem" and "Come Out and Play" received. Smash would go on to set records as a best-selling album from an indie label, clearing 10 million units sold since its release and securing its place as a serious '90s staple in the punk index.
Now, "Come Out and Play," with its surfy tones and driving rhythm, is just as rousing of a hit to experience live at the Summer Nationals tour as it was when it was first played before an audience. He may have lost the dreads and he probably doesn't crowdsurf anymore, but Dexter's voice hit the stratosphere on this one and resonated just as strongly as Noodles' goofy "Gotta keep 'em separated!" quip.