everything sux, so here’s 10 great ’90s punk live videos + a playlist
Here's a special quarantine edition of 'In Defense of the Genre,' with 10 great '90s punk live videos and a playlist to occupy your time.
Quarantine sucks for a lot of reasons, a very big reason being that there are absolutely no concerts. Every weekday, BrooklynVegan has been posting some of our favorite live videos that you can watch now -- sometimes with themes like Coachella, St. Patrick's Day, Fiona Apple, and metal -- so I decided to do an all '90s punk and pop punk selection for this quarantine-friendly version of In Defense of the Genre. Since it's the '90s, a handful of these are from Warped Tour, but I also picked some smaller club shows and one from Woodstock '94 (you know the one).
I picked just 10 videos, but obviously there's a near-endless supply of gems like this on YouTube so maybe I'll do another one of these seeing as it may be a while before concerts resume. For now, hopefully these 10 provide some solace for the '90s punk enthusiasts out there who could use a little entertainment in their lives right now. And in case 10 full-set live videos isn't enough '90s punk for you, I also put together a quarantine playlist, featuring music from all 10 of these bands plus others from the era.
Read on for my list, in chronological order, along with some photo galleries of these bands in concert in more recent years...
Bad Religion @ Open Air, Correggio, Italy - 7/13/93
After debuting among the original wave of hardcore bands of the early '80s, and then making the synth-prog-punk album that we don't talk about (just kidding, it's really not bad!), Bad Religion reshaped the sound of punk with 1988's Suffer, a more melodic version of their classic early work that helped kickstart the pop punk craze that would explode into the mainstream in the historic year of 1994. As Bad Religion-inspired bands were hitting it big, Bad Religion themselves were releasing great albums and repeating the benefits of the genre's newfound success, especially with their 1994 major label debut Stranger than Fiction. But, a year before that, they released the album Recipe For Hate, which was another monumental release in their discography, thanks in no small part to its classic single "American Jesus," a takedown of the unification of church and state that (sadly) still resonates today in the Trump era as much as it did in the George H. W. Bush era. 1993 was also the last full year that Brett Gurewitz was an active member of the band (until he officially rejoined as a mostly-studio-member in the early 2000s), and as good of a live band as Bad Religion are either way, it's always a treat to see them with Brett in the band. This Italy show was filmed about a month after Recipe For Hate came out -- with the classic lineup of Greg Graffin, Brett Gurewitz, Greg Hetson, Jay Bentley, and Bobby Schayer -- and the five of them tore through now-classic songs from Recipe For Hate and earlier. This lineup has so much chemistry, and Bad Religion were on fire that night. The band never stops rocking out for the full 80-minute set, and especially on the angry songs like "American Jesus," Greg seems legitimately pissed at the world in the best way possible.
Green Day @ Woodstock - 8/14/94
Green Day's 1994 major label debut Dookie brought them out of the punk underground and fully into the mainstream, so much so that they got tapped to play Woodstock's 25th anniversary festival. At this point, Green Day's set alone is practically bigger than the rest of Woodstock '94 because of the infamous mud fight it ended in, and watching footage of that mud fight never gets old, but it shouldn't go overlooked that Green Day also played a killer set before that mud fight began. They sped through a bunch of Dookie songs and Kerplunk highlight "One Of My Lies" ("this is off one of our records that no one has"), and they managed to look as at-home on the massive festival stage as they did at City Gardens that same year.
The Offspring @ Fairgrounds Coliseum, Salt Lake City, UT - 12/18/94
Two months after Dookie's release came another album that helped bring pop punk to the masses, The Offspring's Smash, and here's a video of that band on their way to world domination. Dexter Holland's hair may have looked better after he got rid of the dreads, but I don't think his voice ever sounded better than it did in '94. He was more snotty and bratty and youthful than in later years, and he had really expanded his range since the first two Offspring albums. And as this killer show proves, it wasn't just something he had worked on in the studio; he sounds just as sharp as he does on Smash. He's also brimming with the kind of confidence you'd probably have if your band just released a breakthrough album like Smash, and the band has no trouble matching the energy of the crowd, who are crowd-surfing and stage diving and falling all over each other the whole time.
Quicksand @ Warped Tour, Ft. Lauderdale, FL - 8/13/95
Walter Schreifels' post-Gorilla Biscuits band Quicksand broke up just as they were starting to really get big (though their influence lived on through Thursday, Glassjaw, and lots of other post-hardcore bands), and as fate would have it, their final tour was the first-ever Warped Tour. Because there's no justice in the world, when Quicksand played Warped Tour's 25th anniversary, they played a small side stage as The Used drew the bulk of the festgoers to the main stage, and I think the small crowd and early set time made it a little impossible for Quicksand to reach their full potential. But at this nighttime set at Warped '95, the crowd was tightly packed in, crowd-surfing, and Quicksand were giving it all right back, bouncing around on stage and filling the room with monster riffs as only Quicksand can. Making this video even cooler is the shots of Civ watching the band from side stage.
The Muffs @ CBGB - 8/23/95
Ten days after that Quicksand set and in Quicksand's hometown of NYC, The Muffs were in town, ripping it up at CBGBs. When people say no one screams like the late, great Kim Shattuck, they mean it, and as much as you can hear that on their classic records like The Muffs and Blonder and Blonder (which came out four months before this show), you don't really hear it until you watch The Muffs play live. It's a miracle that Kim didn't throw her voice out doing this on tour every night, 'cause when she roars, she makes the word "throat-shredding" seem more literal than most. Kim's voice is the best thing about this show, but the second best thing is bassist Ronnie Barnett, who seems to have boundless energy and who uses about 80% of CBs' tiny stage for his rocking out as Kim holds it down at the mic.
Jawbreaker @ The Abyss, Houston, TX - 11/11/95
You know the story by now: Dear You comes out in 1995, Jawbreaker fans hate it, Jawbreaker break up, Dear You ends up influencing like every emo band in existence, Jawbreaker finally reunite 22 years and later and it feels so good. The Dear You songs have gone over great at the reunion shows, especially compared to some of the horror stories we've all heard from the people who Were There when it came out. That said, I like to watch videos of Jawbreaker in 1995 and see them play the Dear You songs when they were fresh, because whether or not the crowds were feeling it, Jawbreaker sounded pretty great doing these songs at the time! And I don't know, maybe the members were starting to want to kill each other on the inside, but when they hit a part like the chorus of "Million" at this show, it sounds like the whole band is just in it.
Rancid @ The Fillmore, San Francisco, CA - 12/12/95
The year after punk's big '94 boom, another pivotal album hit the streets, ...And Out Come the Wolves. It brought Rancid to similar heights as their Epitaph labelmates Bad Religion and The Offspring and their old 924 Gilman pals Green Day, and Rancid's fame did not come at the expense of their studded leather, spiky mohawks, and overall "I'll kick your ass and drop you in a dumpster" vibe. Even when they played SNL that year they looked tough as fuck, but obviously an even better way than national television to watch them is a hometown-area show with people going nuts and stage diving all night. This set largely consisted of Wolves and Let's Go songs, which is to say that Rancid played nothing but rippers from start to finish. And yeah, they looked tough, but they also looked like they were having so much fucking fun.
blink-182 @ Warped Tour, Orlando, FL - 8/3/97
For a band who have often been accused of sounding sloppy on stage, blink-182's live show has been a more major part of their story than that of many of their peers. I mean, they released a live album at the height of their fame, and its release was almost as big a deal as Enema of the State's was a year earlier. It helped introduce their many new fans to some of the favorites from Dude Ranch and Cheshire Cat, and it also gained blink-182's potty humor stage banter the worldwide reputation it probably never would've earned otherwise. (The potty humor probably also hurt them in some ways, but regardless, it was a key element to what made them blink-182 in the late '90s and early 2000s.) This Warped Tour set came shortly after Dude Ranch's release (when Scott Raynor was still their drummer), and it captures the juvenile blink years as well as The Mark, Tom & Travis Show does. Plus, critics be damned, they sound great. They were just a young, hungry punk band at this point ("Dammit" didn't get promoted as a single until a month later, and they didn't play it at this show), and they sounded as raw, tight, and energetic as they sound on Dude Ranch.
Descendents @ Warped Tour, Panama City, FL - 8/4/97
Like Bad Religion, Descendents were great in the '80s hardcore era, and they were great in the '90s pop punk era too. Nothing beats 1982's Milo Goes to College, but 1996's Everything Sucks comes close, and its fan faves like "Everything Sux," "I'm The One," and "When I Get Old" remain staples of their live show today. Here Descendents are playing those songs when they were fresh (and tons of classics) at Warped Tour, one day after that blink-182 set. It's obvious from the enthusiastic crowd that Descendents were a totally relevant band, despite having a good ten years or more on a lot of that year's Warped Tour lineup, and -- as they still do today -- they played like a new, hungry band too. Descendents fucking ripped at this show, owning the stage like the pros that they were and still are.
AVAIL in Seattle - 10/3/98
Finally, after 12 long years, AVAIL returned in 2019. There are a handful of great AVAIL lineups/eras, but this reunion was the lineup that recorded 1998's Over the James and they played a lot of that album at their reunion shows, so that's the era I'm diving back into for this list. The reunion shows did a good job replicating the absolute party that AVAIL brought to the stage every night in the '90s, and we're very grateful AVAIL made their long-awaited return before this whole pandemic started. But we're also grateful that their actual '90s shows have been preserved and are available for our viewing pleasure today. This one was actually just uploaded this month by the great concert videographer unARTig (though it was shot by Kevin Zelko).
10 full-set concerts not enough to occupy your quarantined time? Keep the theme going with this '90s punk quarantine playlist...