WHAT'S THEIR AGE AGAIN? Blink-182
Should Blink-182 fans be worried about the concert Saturday at Tampa's MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre?
On one hand, it's arguable there is no Blink-182 without the inimitable sneer of singer-guitarist Tom DeLonge, who left the pop-punk trio amid plenty of acrimony last year. On the other, singer-bassist Mark Hoppus and drummer Travis Barker could've done worse by replacing him with Matt Skiba, above, the respected frontman of Alkaline Trio.
It was inevitable that California, their just-released seventh album, would present a different Blink than we're used to hearing. There are still are melodic riffs and hooks aplenty; She's Out of Her Mind and Sober would be worthy additions to any Blink mix CD. But Skiba's more aggressive vocal style gives them a more grown-up sound than did DeLonge's juvenile whine — his rage is palpable on Los Angeles and Left Alone.
And it's not necessarily a problem that Hoppus' relatively sedate vocals — previously the monotonous yin to DeLonge's searing yang — occupy a greater patch of real estate. Anytime Blink veers into "serious rock" territory, it's a gamble, but it works on the understated, Hoppus-led Home Is Such a Lonely Place, one of the lovelier semisoft songs in their catalog.
Now, back to the original question: Should Blink fans be worried about Saturday's show?
Maybe cautious is a better word. As good as parts of California are, and as capable as Skiba may be, there's just no replacing the complementary back-and-forth interplay between Hoppus and DeLonge. That's the uphill climb the new Blink-182 faces for as long as it wishes to exist.
A Day to Remember and All-American Rejects open at 7 p.m. Saturday at the MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre, 4802 U.S. 301 N, Tampa. $25 and up. (813) 740-2446. livenation.com.
BOCEPHUS SPEAKS: Hank Williams Jr. and Chris Stapleton
Of course Hank Williams Jr., top right, and Chris Stapleton, bottom right, are teaming up for a tour. Both are burly, bearded country outsiders who have brought a little attitude and a whole lot of Southern fire to the Nashville establishment.
But for all their similarities, Williams doesn't seem to know that much about his tourmate.
"I don't normally know who is opening my shows until I get to the venue," he wrote in an email to the Times. "I have not worked with Chris in the past, nor do I remember ever meeting him."
Well, Bocephus, here's a 5-cent primer. Stapleton is the year's breakout country star, nearly sweeping the CMA Awards and winning the Grammy for Best Country Album for the stellar Traveller. He's crossed genres with ease, playing Bonnaroo and Lollapalooza this summer.
But Williams will still be a deserving headliner when their tour hits Tampa on Friday. The country blue blood is one of the biggest and most outspoken stars the genre has ever produced, and his new album It's About Time is a genuinely fun and rambunctious Southern rock ride.
Williams and Stapleton perform with Holly Williams, Hank's daughter, at 7:15 p.m. Friday at the MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre, 4802 U.S. 301 N, Tampa. $22.50 and up. (813) 740-2446. livenation.com.
For more with Hank Williams Jr., see tbtim.es/14ml.
NIGHT MUSIC: Maxwell
Was Maxwell's blackSUMMERS'night worth the wait? Yes, ma'am, and then some.
The silky-smooth neo-soul icon's fifth studio album, and first in seven years, dropped in July, and it's another sterling collection of futurist love songs and slow jams that never bow to convention. One minute you're swept up in a cloud of digital transcendence (All the Ways Love Can Feel), the next you're pulled into a darkened jazz dive (Lost), the next you're in the bedroom peeling off layers (Listen Hear).
Like D'Angelo's Black Messiah, blackSUMMERS'night probes the reaches of soul and R&B that might otherwise go unexplored by trend-chasing younger artists. Here, Maxwell's only muse — other than whoever he's singing to — is his own mind. That makes blackSUMMERS'night feel a bit like a Prince album, where the creator's only aim is to seduce you into seeing the world his way.
If you don't yet own blackSUMMERS'night — and want to get out ahead of all the year-end best-of lists it'll end up on — you can get it by purchasing a ticket to his concert at 7:30 p.m. Thursday at Ruth Eckerd Hall, 1111 N McMullen-Booth Road, Clearwater. Buy your ticket at rutheckerdhall.com, and you'll receive a code redeemable for a copy of the album. $45 and up. Ro James opens. (727) 791-7400. rutheckerdhall.com.
LION HEARTED: David Bazan
A generation of tender emo kids see David Bazan as an influence thanks to the introspective, often spiritual music he put out with his old indie rock band Pedro the Lion. He's been touring as a solo act for a decade, mixing in old Pedro the Lion favorites amid material from his solo albums. He's taken a bit of a left turn on his new album Blanco, on which he largely trades guitars for glitchy, blippy synthesizers. But his weary and soulful voice remains intact. He'll perform at 8 p.m. Saturday at Crowbar, 1812 N 17th St., Ybor City. Michael Nau opens. $15. (813) 241-8600. crowbarlive.com.