Imagine for a second that you’re an inappropriately sensitive 20-something whose musical taste has not advanced much in over a decade. (I know it’s a stretch, but keep imagining!) You try out “now” bands, like Vampire Weekend, and genres, like dubstep, but nothing can replace that middle-school-fresh sound you grew up with; nothing can come close to piercing your heart, your SOUL, like the group that essentially defined 7th and 8th grade.
Now imagine that not once in those formative years but several times did you miss out on the chance to see these guys live. Your friends who had older sisters caught them. Even people who didn’t like them all that much so WHY SHOULD THEY GET TO GO? managed to snag tickets. Meanwhile you sat at home, listening to their teenage anthems on a battery-powered Discman. You sobbed and stewed and life just sucked.
Twelve years later you’re a man, sort of, with disposable income — when you apply credit card logic — and an adult’s right to do whatever he wants whenever he wants. Your friend Ashley has landed tickets to your group’s TOUR ENDING show. The stars have finally aligned.
Everyone can take off their imagination caps because it’s time for the BIG REVEAL: the musical group is Blink-182. And that sensitive 20-something, stuck in some 1999 time loop that thankfully does not include JNCO jeans? He’s ME. I KNOW.
Blink-182 played the famed Hollywood Bowl October 8th, igniting the passions of screaming 14-year-olds who were breastfeeding when Enema of the State came out and also me, your intrepid reporter on the scene/fangirl. It was a weird blast!
First things first: this thing was Cracker Central. No one could accuse the guys of being exclusionary — just obsessed with boning each other’s moms — but it’s safe to say their particular brand of SoCal emo dick joke pop does NOT strike a chord with the urban set. Let’s put it this way: no one in the audience hadn’t at some point in their life shopped at Hot Topic. Maybe Blink (and their people) were fully aware of this? I’d say a tour sponsored by Honda Civic knows which side its bread is buttered on.
Then again, a good portion of the crowd was about three state assessment tests away from getting their drivers’ license. Don’t let me say I felt “old” — because that’s far from the case when you sleep on an air mattress — but this concert was, on some level, assuredly not for anyone post-high school. And Blink themselves knew that, dipping not once in the first half of the show into any songs pre-maybe 2003. This was the opener:
“Feeling This,” from ‘Blink-182’
Someone was FEELING that! Blink continued with miles of material from Blink-182 and the just-released Neighborhoods, while my friend and I wondered when it was going to be OUR TIME Y’ALL and some recognition that 1996-2001 actually did happen. Slowly they worked back around to it:
“Dumpweed,” ‘Enema of the State’
“What’s My Age Again?,” ‘Enema of the State’
“Josie,” ‘Dude Ranch’
I imagined getting into a fake fight with one of the kids in braces near me after they hypothetically asked where the hell these “old” songs were from. “From when you were watching VEGGIE TALES, asshole — show some respect!” The opportunity to say that — to anyone — never presented itself. Blink dove back into new stuff, then turned on lasers, then sent Travis and his drum set around the stage by crane. The white kids in the audience went crazy. I mean the whole crowd went crazy.
I’m not sure even Blink-182 would ever argue that theirs is vital music. It’s not. Their guitar-playing comes second to jokes about eating dog testicles (I’m paraphrasing), and, like Weezer they’ve convinced themselves that pushing 40 is the time at which to DOUBLE DOWN on the 20s-specific themes that once launched them to stardom. Mark also wears JNCO jeans, which aren’t proven to diminish musical quality but suggest as much.
But they’re fun, their songs are catchy, and the way they’ll forever be linked to such formative years for so many people is no small thing. While NOSTALGIA remains a dirty word here at Lifting Fog HQ, when it comes to the Mark, Tom, and Travis Show we (I, Henning)…will concede a little hypocrisy. These sonic blasts from the mid, late, and very nearly 90s are things to FOREVER CHERISH.
“Carousel,” ‘Cheshire Cat’; “Dammit,” ‘Dude Ranch’