Bayou City

Recharged Blink-182 Brings Many Eras of Pop-Punk Fun to Rodeo

Recharged Blink-182 Brings Many Eras of Pop-Punk Fun to Rodeo
Photo by Jack Gorman
click to enlarge PHOTO BY JACK GORMAN
Photo by Jack Gorman
Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo
March 23, 2017

When Blink-182 replaced its lead guitarist, co-vocalist and founding member Tom Delonge with Alkaline Trio's Matt Skiba, the band fractured its fan base.

Fans were torn between their loyalty to the original trio of misfits and their desire for new music, even if California, the band’s seventh studio album and first without Delonge, felt like more of a side project than a legitimate Blink-182 album.

But California turned out to be the group’s best-received record – both commercially and critically – since 2001's Take Off Your Pants and Jacket, and they have been touring in support of it on and off for nearly a year now.

click to enlarge PHOTO BY JACK GORMAN
Photo by Jack Gorman
On Thursday night, Blink-182 made its RodeoHouston debut in front of a crowd of 65,011 screaming fans spanning multiple generations of fandom. From California all the way back to 1995’s Cheshire Cat, the band that was instrumental in the rise of pop-punk performed a little something for everyone in attendance.

Instead of shying away from the songs that heavily relied on Delonge’s vocals, the new lineup seemed more than happy to include them, perhaps as a way to appease longtime fans with a robust set list while letting everyone know that Skiba is here to stay.

Originally released in 2001, “Anthem Part Two” felt like a fitting post-election jam as Skiba sang, “Everything has fallen to pieces/ Earth is dying/ Help me Jesus/ We need guidance/We’ve been misled/ If we’re fucked up, you’re to blame.”

Skiba is arguably a better guitarist and singer than Delonge, albeit a less interesting one. He doesn’t have a penchant for UFOs, and his voice isn’t as unique or recognizable. Still, he faithfully sang Delonge’s verses Thursday night, only reworking the former member’s guitar at times by adding his own flair.

When fans were singing along in unison to “First Date,” “I Miss You” and “All The Small Things,” you would have been hard-pressed to notice much difference vocally, especially since the group’s strong suit has never been singing.

click to enlarge PHOTO BY JACK GORMAN
Photo by Jack Gorman
Blink’s appeal is its eccentricity. Despite its members' ages, the band sounded ageless Thursday night as everyone – adult men and teenage girls alike – sang along to the hits, the classics and even a few newer cuts such as last year’s “Bored to Death.”

Delonge's departure may have breathed new life into a band that, by all measures, should have faded from the limelight by now. After all, it should feel odd listening to fortysomethings bemoan the futility of youth and their incompetence when talking to girls.

But Skiba's inclusion – or perhaps Delonge's removal – has paved the way for the band to write some of its most fun music in years. Even if California wasn’t an immediate classic, its music felt like the band recaptured something that had been lost.

Thursday night’s performance served as further proof that Blink-182’s success never relied on any one member. Bassist Mark Hoppus, drummer Travis Barker and Delonge all brought something to the table. And Skiba offered something new on Thursday night: a future for an otherwise inactive band.

As is the case with any kind of art, of course, not everyone has to like it.

click to enlarge PHOTO BY JACK GORMAN
Photo by Jack Gorman
Feeling This
Rock Show
Anthem Part Two
What's My Age Again?
First Date
Bored To Death
I Miss You
She's Out Of Her Mind
Drum Solo
Los Angeles
All the Small Things
Brohemian Rhapsody
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Matt is a regular contributor to the Houston Press’ music section. He graduated from the University of Houston with a degree in print journalism and global business. Matt first began writing for the Press as an intern, having accidentally sent his resume to the publication's music editor instead of the news chief. After half a decade of attending concerts and interviewing musicians, he has credited this fortuitous mistake to divine intervention.
Contact: Matthew Keever