The New Blink-182 Is the Same as the Old Blink-182, and That Works

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Blink-182, A Day to Remember, The All-American Rejects
Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion
July 31, 2016

Here’s how a Blink-182 concert in 2016 starts off: A curtain goes away, the band kicks into “Feeling This” and behind them giant flaming letters spell out “Fuck.”

The new Blink-182 are real eager to remind you that they’re just fun-loving dudes. In between all their ballads and pop-punk gems, they managed to wedge what felt like every single short, goofy song they’ve ever written: “Built This Pool,” “Family Reunion,” “Happy Holidays, You Bastard” and so on. This is a thing they have to do. This is something that’s expected.

More important, this is something that they wanted to do. For as long as Blink-182 has been a thing, before Travis Barker and after Tom Delonge, there’s always been that duality there, the humor existing to keep things from being too bleak. Go all the way back to Cheshire Cat and for all the goofy, silly moments on the record, you can’t ignore the fact that “Carousel” is an extremely sad song. It’s a formula that has always worked for the band; it took them to the top of the charts and wound up selling out The Pavilion on a Sunday night.

In the end, replacing Tom with Matt Skiba was, at worst, a completely lateral move. Skiba fit in just fine taking lead on all the old Tom songs, and the band felt as tight as they ever have, maybe even more so given the aggressive nature of something like new album track “Cynical.” The crowd was into the new stuff just as much as the old, gladly singing those songs the way they sang the hits.

Perhaps most important, the evening felt like a Blink-182 show, banter and all. When you really think about it, Mark Hoppus and Travis Barker teaming up with Matt Skiba is a supergroup of great pop-punk songwriting. Going by the Blink-182 name was actually the hardest path to take given the expectations that would come with it. The good news is that Skiba fits just fine in the world of Blink-182, for as long as the three choose for that to be a thing.

Blink had their work cut out for them, because there were times during A Day to Remember’s set when the crowd roared like ADTR were the headliners of this tour. Any questions about whether or not this team-up was a winning one were dispelled about 15 seconds into the set-opening “Downfall of Us All” because the crowd was completely into the band. ADTR brought their big energy to the Pavilion and felt right at home, as if maybe they’re the right tour lineup away from being able to headline the venue themselves.

They worked hard for the crowd, but they encouraged the crowd to work too. It’s rare to hear a band tell the crowd to “get their money’s worth” from a performance, but between their songs, slick stage design and the various props they threw out into the crowd, ADTR gave the crowd everything it needed to have a good time. They are extremely good at what it is they do, and it was good to know that they could not only hold their own with a band as iconic as Blink-182 but could stand damn near shoulder to shoulder with them.

So, How Was the Opener? The All-American Rejects got a warm response from the Houston crowd, minus the guy Tyson Ritter decided to bully because someone had the audacity not to care about his nostalgia act. The performance was fine, Ritter’s vocals were strong and the crowd remembered all the words, so on that level, it was a success. Their new single is hot garbage, but if Halsey’s “New Americana” can get over, I’m sure AAR can find a home for – sigh – “DGAF.”

Personal Bias: Blink 182 > +44 > TRV$DJAM > Alkaline Trio > Transplants > Angels & Airwaves > Box Car Racer

The Crowd: Not to sound overly bitter, but some people have aged much more gracefully than I.

Random Notebook Dump: I’ve never had a problem going to concerts by myself. I don’t go to shows for community – fellowship, come to find out, is my least favorite type of fun – so I don’t need someone with me to have a good time (although I do miss my roommate when she’s not around). So, just…here’s the thing: Don’t be that condescending asshole who assumes that because someone is by himself, it’s your duty to make sure he has a good time. You’re not the fun police, and I’m not here to help you find a community to make up for the one your parents didn’t give you. Thanks.

Bonus Random Notebook Dump: The only difference between Tom Delonge and Kanye West is that one is a genius.

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