Review: Blink-182 bring wild energy, high-school hijinks to Tampa's 1-800-Ask-Gary Amphitheatre
“It’s all going to be okay.”
That is the latest warm and fuzzy feeling fans are getting from our newly reunited Blink-182. After a long disappearing act, they returned in 2009, but have been quiet since. But drummer Travis Barker’s plane crash in September 2008 catapulted Barker, Tom DeLonge, and Mark Hoppus to begin communication. Now we have them rejoined and writing new music, with their newest release Neighborhoods set for release on Tuesday.
At the Honda Civic Tour on Saturday at the 1-800-Ask-Gary Amphitheatre, as expected, fans welcomed the rejoined threesome with open arms. With rain holding off, there was no doubt it would be a great show.
It’s a strange feeling having your back to thousands of screaming, energetic fans (it’s similar to a “trust fall,” where you have to trust someone to catch your dead weight falling backwards), hearing the crowd screaming, and knowing their arms were reaching out to the stage (maybe to catch a guitar pick?). Shooting a band is generally risky; dodging stage divers and such is the norm, and you could get the occasional bottle of water or Bic Lighter chucked at you from 30 rows back. But the crowd at the Blink show, ranging from ages 15 to 40, was just out of control. I witnessed several people asking to get pulled out of the front row minutes before Blink-182 took the stage. It was apparently unbearable for many.
Me, I just took a deep breath and turned my back to the zombie apocalypse and hoped for the best. And when the lights dropped, the crude, gutter-minded Blink-182 took the stage. The fans just exploded with noise. The opening song Feeling This ignited a firestorm under an already lunatic-minded crowd. I have to admit, I had to turn around a few times to make sure the security barricade, separating me from the masses, didn’t come crashing over. The second song was Up All Night, their newest video release, and the crowd continued to sing along as if it was release 20 years ago.
There is something about Blink-182 people just get. We understand them. We understand their mentality (we’ve all been through puberty), and the crude jokes mid-song (I can’t publish them here) just flow out of their mouths as if we were watching an open mic night. Some would think that Barker, DeLonge, and Hoppus have matured since their first album in 1994, but it is just part of their persona. They just can’t take themselves too seriously. And Blink keep things simple. No fancy lead guitar, and no crazy, intricate guitar riffs.
Even their stage lighting for this night was simple. For the first six songs, a white light was the only stage lighting. It wasn’t until Stay Together that they incorporated red and yellow lighting for stage accents. A guitar change for DeLonge and Stay Together rumbled the stage. A few songs later, Kim Schifino (from openers Matt and Kim) took the stage for a Barker beat-supplied dance-off between her and DeLonge. Again, comedy was the theme of the night. After “pirate crotch” joke from Hoppus, the music continued.
With such a great show, what else could we expect but an out-of-the-norm drum solo? After Motely Crue’s Tommy Lee had the “drumming roller coaster," Travis Barker must have felt it was time to meet and exceed drum solo expectations. How? With a robotic arm that reaches out 100 feet into and above the crowd. His drum set was poised at the end of this mechanical arm, maneuvering up and down, sideways and in all directions over the crowd. It was the last thing fans expected during an encore. It was on par with any drum visuals I’ve seen yet.
And if we didn’t get enough from the encore, the last song of the encore, Dammit, was relinquished with confetti, as at any high school prom night. Unfortunately the westerly wind didn’t agree with this stage antic, and the confetti ended up back onstage, covering most of the touring roadie crew. So much for that.
Unfortunately I missed Matt and Kim due to stalled traffic on I-4. Apparently an overturned truck at Orient Road delayed several would-be early arrivals. From the fans I spoke with that did get to see this duo, they were excellent. Matt and Kim are going places, trust me (my ex-wife hated when I said that).
My Chemical Romance completed the warm up, and did not disappoint. While their set was similar to listening to an hour of commercial radio, their fans got what they expected. Vocalist Gerard Way and his red hair bounced and screamed around the stage, and the 17-year-olds went bonkers. I think I dodged a training bra as it was thrown past me like a dogeball. They played a high energy set, but did not put a dent in the energy from this enormous crowd. After a good 40 minutes of music, the fans were itching for Blink. It must be true: Good things come to those who wait.
This was a great show and I am looking forward to snagging Neighborhoods on Tuesday. I am crossing my fingers that we have our old Blink-182 back, and age and experience has not turned our beloved American pop-punk band mediocre. If Up All Night is a hint of what is to come, I think we will all be satisfied.
As for their live performance, I felt like I was taken back to 15 years ago, so they definitely haven’t teetered off from their comedic and energetic selves. For those that didn’t make it out to watch this show, shame, shame.
-- Review/photos by Andrew Carlton, tbt*