By Matt “Rabit” Martinez, Red Hare Images
When I was growing up in elementary school, we would have these scholastic book magazines where we could order books from. Every few months they would release a music version with CD’s instead of books, and one time I saw Blink 182’s Enema of the State listed in the magazine. I convinced my mom to buy me this album, and a couple weeks later I had this CD playing on loop in my room. Little did my mom know the ”Parental Advisory” sticker was covered in the magazine, and she walked in to hear this band singing profanity to my impressionable elementary school ears and promptly took the CD and hid it away from me. But it was too late, I was already hooked on Blink 182. So 20 years later, who would have guessed that my first time seeing Blink 182 live was with my mom while the band surprised the audience by playing Enema of the State in its entirety. Along with them on this tour was Welsh pop punk band Neck Deep. Fans turned out in droves sporting some classic 90’s fashion with Dickies shorts and flannel tied around their waste, ready to get nostalgic.
Opening the night was a more modern take on Pop Punk with Neck Deep. Performing in front of two giant inflatable letters “N” and “D,” Neck Deep was emitting the right kind of vibes to play to the audience of the FivePoints. Fronted by Ben Barlow who sings with such passion in his voice. Flanked by dual guitarist Matt West and Sam Bowden who could both be seen dancing and jumping around the stage. Bassist Joshua Halling was laying a sold groove for the rest of the band to jive to, while drummer Dani Washington had to miss the show as he is sick. So Neck Deep’s drum tech filled in, and as Barlow stated “He’s probably shitting his pants having to perform for the first time to this many people.” Yet I could not hear hesitation or any missed beats with his performance. Neck Deep got the people singing and bumping in the crowd and was the perfect way to start this night.
Full Neck Deep gallery below:
After a short 30-minute set change, it was time for the band everyone came to see. Filling the entirety of the stage with amps that turned out to be lighting rigs, Blink 182 hit the stage with the classic “Dumpweed.” Taking over the lead guitar and co-lead vocal duty is Matt Skiba, who has the perfect mix of having the singing inflection of former co-singer Tom DeLonge, but still making his voice stand out in the band. As they went into fan favorite track “Aliens Exist” giant inflatable aliens were dumped over the crowd to be crowd surfed and punched around. Before going into the next song bassist and co-lead singer Mark Hoppus announced that they were going to play Enema of the State in its entirety. “We’re gonna play this album front to back, just how I like to wipe.” Though the guys are all in their 40’s, they have not lost any of the childish toilet humor that makes them so enjoyable to watch. What I loved seeing was that drummer Travis Barker had his kit pushed to the front edge of the stage, so all three band members could be seen clearly throughout the whole show. Playing through Enema with songs like “What’s My Age Again,” “Adam’s Song,” “All The Small Things,” and even playing songs that probably haven’t been played live in a long while like “Dysentery Gary,” “The Party Song,” and “Wendy Clear.” The audience’s screams grew more as the band took us all back to the late 90’s pop punk heyday.
After a moment of the arena going dark, Mark and Matt popped up in the middle of the crowd wielding acoustic instruments to give the fans a more personal show. As the crowd flocked to circle their heroes the guys went into an acoustic rendition of “Down” that seemed to have a much deeper meaning when played acoustically, and “Wasting Time” from their debut album Cheshire Cat (1995). When the boys returned to the stage they went into “Bored to Death” but something was off. It was unfortunate, but the sound system seemed to have broken and Mark & Matt’s vocals sounded wildly off. The guys worked through the technical difficulties, as the vocals started leveling out. Before going into ”I Miss You” Blink brought out rapper Vic Mensa to assist on vocals, and he brought a more soulful demeanor to the already beautiful track. The song that surprised me the most was when Blink went into my favorite joke song “Happy Holidays You Bastard,” a song I never thought I would get to hear them play live. Though they did a magic trick, by playing the song in complete darkness. As Blink went into their final song “Dammit,” confetti started snowing over the crowd rallying any remaining energy the crowd had not exhausted yet. When Mark, Matt, and Travis finally said their good byes, the crowd cheered for a solid 5 minutes wishing for one more song.
Full Blink 182 gallery below:
I’ve been a Blink 182 fan for 20 years and I don’t know how I waited this long to finally see them live, but they lived up to every expectation I had. The guys are all enjoyable charismatic showman on stage, and they blend their deeper songs with their immature songs perfectly. Though after “Bored to Death” the band seemed to be having technical difficulties that plagued the rest of the show including Travis’s rotating drum rig never being brought out for his solo. As well, his normal drum kit mics and some of the vocal spots kept cutting out, so the songs were not heard with full gusto. Non-the less, Blink are professionals and “Contractually obligated to play!” as Mark said jokingly earlier in the night before all the problems started arising. Regardless of all the mishaps going on, I was living a dream getting to head bang and single along to my pop punk heroes finally. I do hope Blink 182 do make a return to SoCal soon, as I can’t wait to see how even better a show with no problems will be.