Pennywise Blast Through 1997 Album ‘Full Circle’ in Orange County (SHOW REVIEW)

Pennywise isn’t from Orange County, but the band booked five nights at the Garden Amphitheatre in northern Orange County, where they would play one album in its entirety for five shows. When any legendary band does something like that, it doesn’t matter where the shows take place – it’s going to be a big deal. It is a particularly big deal when people are just coming back to live music after so many shows were lost to COVID-19. That was certainly the case with the Pennywise shows that all sold out. On Saturday, March 12th, the band was scheduled to perform Full Circle to a packed house.

Garden Amphitheater deserves a lot of credit for being a truly all-ages venue. The audience for this show was a great example, ranging from fans with gray beards and wallet chains to children younger than 10 (including one child sitting on a person’s shoulders just outside the pit).

Your narrator missed the opening band Chaser, but arrived in time for Authority Zero. The band played with a furious energy and, despite the temperatures in the upper 50s (that’s what people in Orange County call freezing), worked up a good sweat. More importantly, they got the audience to work up a good sweat also. Despite that it was only 6:00, the pit was going strong as Authority Zero went through its set. About midway through the set, the band did a ripping rendition of “Ollie Ollie Oxen Free” from their 2021 album of the same name. They followed that with “Revolution” and by that point, the crowd was fully into the set, with a good portion signing along. After “Revolution”, a child (probably about seven years old) wearing an Autoridad Cero t-shirt got onto the stage and appeared to be looking for someone. To their credit, the band just kept playing and in seemingly no time, they finished their set.

Good Riddance followed Authority Zero, and immediately you couldn’t help but notice that bassist Chuck Platt was in a wheelchair with a brace on his leg. It caught the attention because it’s so rare to see a punk musician seated on stage. But then, what’s more punk rock than playing a show in a wheelchair? He didn’t let it hinder his mobility, however. At some point, he had moved forward and had to scoot back to the microphone to add backing vocals.

Good Riddance ripped through fan favorites like “Last Believer” and “Disputatio” with very little banter between songs. They went through their set so quickly that it seemed like they had a cab waiting outside. The fans responded by dancing and singing along. Good Riddance was there to get the crowd ready for Pennywise, and they accomplished that mission.

Predictably, when Pennywise took the stage, the audience members were on their feet and ready to hear Full Circle in its entirety. The wings of the stage were packed with people, making it impossible to see the band from certain parts of the amphitheater. From the opening notes of “Fight Till You Die”, the crowd sang along with every word, and the pit was everything you’d expect. Not long into the set, a member of the audience got onto the stage and it was clear he intended to do a stage dive. He had to shrug off a security guard onstage to do it, but he did what he set out to do.

Jim Lindberg did a great job of engaging with the audience. During “Society”, he pitted one side of the venue against the other to see which side was louder. Between “Final Day” and “Broken”, he asked who wanted to hear “Freebird”. Naturally, some people voiced their approval as Fletcher Dragge played the opening riff of “Smoke on the Water”.

The fans were happy to be a part of the evening, not just because they got to see a legendary punk band, but also because they were just so happy to be able to attend a show after the last couple years. It’s fair to say that no one left disappointed. 

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