As some may recall from my previous review of Blink 182’s new record, I was very excited about this new iteration of the band, with Alkaline Trio’s Matt Skiba replacing Tom DeLonge’s guitar and vocals, and Goldfinger’s John Feldmann producing. And as I mentioned, while California doesn’t compare to the greatest work from these two said bands, or even Blink themselves, it was definitely an enjoyable summer record. It also restored my faith in modern punk/pop punk music, with additional help from some new discoveries like PUP, Modern Baseball, and the Front Bottoms (not to mention an awesome new Menzingers single and news of a Japandroids comeback tour and potential new album). So needless to say I wanted a chance to see the Blink live, playing new songs off the current record and reinterpreting old classics sans Tom.
Full disclosure: I didn’t actually buy tickets to the show at Barclays Center. I was debating whether I wanted to or not, but the closest thing I could find within my budget were nosebleeds, and as I’ve mentioned, Blink was never a huge band for me. I knew most of their songs, but I did for a whole lot of other bands from that era, and the idea of seeing a three piece pop punk band play an 18,000 seat arena was less than appealing. Also, the last time I saw Blink live was at Riot Fest in Chicago in 2013 and there was heavy amounts of Neighborhoods songs, of which I knew next to none. But when my friend got the hookup for decent seats through work connections, I obliged. Donned in my Alkaline Trio Olde English t-shirt I got from one of their shows years ago (because you obviously can’t wear a shirt of the band you’re seeing to the show, a rule which I found broken many, many times that night), I was ready to make pop punk great again. Rather than see openers DJ Spider, All Time Low, and A Day To Remember, of which I knew little about (and where were any said bands above, or any other similar bands from that era?), we “pregamed” at my usual pre-Barclays Center spot, St. Gambrinus Beer Shop, followed by a quick bite at Shake Shack across from the arena. Perfect timing, as we got there about 20 minutes prior to Blink’s set.
As I mentioned, I’ve seen these guys a few times before, so when the curtain opened, bursts of fire flew out, and a giant light up “Fuck” sign appeared behind them, I was less than surprised. I had also studied up on their setlists from previous nights, of which they stuck to almost exactly.
They opened with “Feeling This,” then went straight into “What’s My Age Again” and joke-song “Family Reunion.” Definitely a good way to get the crowd going. First things I immediately noticed were how loud/heavy the bass was and how much the crowd was into every song.
The set predictably pulled heavily from California, and behind that almost equally from Take Off Your Pants and Jacket, blink-182, and Enema of the State. All the hits were there, and it was nice they still play old school favorites “Carousel” and “Dammit.” It’s funny to me to think of those as old, but judging from the overall age demographic of the crowd and the fact that these songs came out about 20 years ago, it made a lot of sense. The new songs sounded very tight and flowed through each other exceptionally well. I think Skiba did a great job of taking over Tom’s parts for the older tunes, but still felt a little off with him singing these parts instead of Tom’s famous whine. What was also absent was the immature dick and fart jokes in between songs, something I never enjoyed and I think stopped years ago. They did however, manage to squeeze in 4 of their under 30 second joke songs. There wasn’t much stage banter at all, aside from Mark jumping in with an occasional comment here and there about the crowd, and hyping up fellow bandmates’ Skiba and Travis Barker. The setlist was technically 24 total songs, but flew by and just lasted 90 minutes.
Was the show good? Yes, definitely was. However, was it great? I’m sure the drunk frat boys, hardcore fans, and moshpit kids would agree it was, but it’s hard for me to get too crazy at a multi thousand person arena, where you feel so disconnected from a three-piece punk band unless you’re in the General Admission area with said moshpit kids. I also would have loved if they didn’t play any of their songs that were written after 1999, but that’s just my pretentious punk rock elitism coming out.
I thought the crowd would be closer to my age but I definitely felt like the out of touch older uncle to a point. This typically is not the case when I see some of my current punk favorites like The Gaslight Anthem, Bouncing Souls, and Titus Andronicus. Then I think back to the first time I saw Blink 182 live, approximately 15 years ago when I was still in high school, free from drugs (by choice), girls (not by choice), and not thinking or caring about what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. I think it’s clear that I was never the biggest Blink 182 fan, but I remember leaving those first shows and feeling on top of the world. Maybe that’s what these kids are feeling now since they didn’t get to 15 years ago.
Bottom line is, Blink can still easily sell out arenas, have a #1 hit record, and are helping to keep pop punk (and rock music) alive for the mainstream. And as long as they keep doing that and other bands follow in their footsteps, I can still have hope for the music industry. As they said best, stay together for the kids.
1. Feeling This
2. What’s My Age Again?
3. Family Reunion
4. The Rock Show
6. First Date
8. I Miss You
9. Bored to Death
10. Built This Pool
12. Reckless Abandon
13. Stay Together for the Kids
14. San Diego
15. Not Now
17. Kings of the Weekend
18. Dysentery Gary
19. Happy Holidays, You Bastard
20. Los Angeles
22. All the Small Things
23. Brohemian Rhapsody
Photos from Barclays Center