The Offspring: from culverts to Cosmo

The Offspring have come a long way. Tonight, they will play a trove of rock hits at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas pool — “Come Out and Play,” “Self Esteem,” “Smash It Up” and “Pretty Fly (for a White Guy).”

But before they were famous, they would drive here from their native Southern California to perform with other bands, for almost no money, in concrete culverts in the outskirts of Vegas.

“Somebody would get a generator out there, and I think they would charge a dollar a person, or a dollar a car,” Offspring guitarist Kevin “Noodles” Wasserman says.

“It was a big flood control channel, and it was this huge cement thing. The acoustics were terrible because it was echoing like crazy,” Noodles, 50, says.

There were tunnels out there, and the musicians would get drunk and race through them.

“We dared each other to run as fast as we could through the tunnels. Every once in a while, there’d be somebody back in the tunnels, drinking, and you’d come flying through there and trip over them.”

At the time, the guys in the band were in college.

Noodles had a job. “I was an elementary school janitor!”

They would pack up the van or a truck and tour Vegas, Phoenix and the Bay Area.

“It was work, but it was our summer vacation. It was our weekend. That’s how we spent our time.”

They shared driving time. They slept in sleeping bags.

“We couldn’t afford hotel rooms back in the day. So we would just make an announcement from stage, and hopefully somebody would have a backyard we could sleep in, or a porch, or something.

“We didn’t have tents or anything. We would just pull up and sleep wherever. Some of us would sleep in the truck or the van. Some of us would spread out on a picnic table.”

It was a fun young life.

“It’s funny to say, but it seems more like a drag now when we’re waiting in lines at airports or waiting in line for the car to take us to the airport,” Noodles says.

“Now it seems we’re going a lot further. We just got back from Australia. A 14-hour flight from Sydney is pretty brutal.

“I kind of miss driving myself in a van and going out to St. George, Utah. You know?”


■ The cheapest tickets have already sold out for the Life Is Beautiful music and food fest Oct. 26-27 downtown.

Tickets went on sale Friday morning via Ticketmaster. The $100 tickets sold out in 90 seconds, and the $120-$140 tickets sold out soon after. Still available: $160 to attend both days, and $350 for VIP tickets.

On the bill: Vegas hit makers The Killers and Imagine Dragons, plus Kings of Leon, Beck, Pretty Lights, Empire of the Sun, Jurassic 5, Zedd and many other musicians; plus Cirque performers; and a food lineup by celebrity chefs such as Hubert Keller, Michael Mina, Rick Moonen, Kim Canteenwalla, Mary Sue Milliken, Paul Bartolotta, Kerry Simon, Carla Pellegrino and Mike Minor.

■ Hip-hop star Drake took friends to an exclusive backroom at Mirage’s Revolution Lounge on Thursday, drinking Champagne until 4 a.m. He is filming a music video in town. Female fans failed to get to him, beyond bodyguards, as he was enjoying a boy s night out, which included rapper 2Chainz.

■ Rapper Macklemore and fiancee Tricia saw “O” on Thursday.

■ Paris Hilton and Cheryl Burke are expected to show up today at Daylight dayclub-pool in Mandalay Bay for a friend’s birthday.

Doug Elfman’s column appears Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. He also writes for Neon on Fridays. Email him at He blogs at