Reformed and re-energized, Blink 182 pulled out all the stops as they brought their California Summer Tour to Scranton, PA. The trio took the stage at 9:30 pm and from that second, the band ripped through a non-stop onslaught of their greatest hits, deep tracks and a healthy dose of new material from their most recent, seventh studio album, California.
With the word “Fuck” spelled out in fire on the backdrop of the stage, the band began their attack with “Feeling This,” from their 2003 eponymous album. It was clear that the packed crowd at The Pavilion at Montage Mountain were also feeling this. The crowd sang along with Bassist/Vocalist Mark Hoppus and new Guitarist/Vocalist Matt Skiba (formerly of Alkaline Trio) to an almost deafening volume.
Without allowing as much as a second for the high-octane crowd to catch their breath, the band launched into one of their biggest hits, “What’s My Age Again?” to an even greater reaction. If you closed your eyes, you’d almost swear it was the year 2000. The sheer tightness of the trio was impeccable; the vibe was that of a band determined to show the world that they are the undisputed kings of pop-punk. Drummer Travis Barker led this charge. Effortlessly played to perfection, Barker was on fire. Crushing off lightning fast drum rolls, blink and you miss them fills and shaming drummers near and far with his mastery of his instrument.
As if California wasn’t proof enough that Skiba was a worthy replacement to former Guitarist/Vocalist Tom Delonge, it’s in the live setting that the he truly shines. On classic Blink tracks such as “Miss You,” “Stay Together for the Kids” and “First Date,” there was no feeling of “Where’s Tom?” In fact, the impression left by Skiba was more, “Tom Who?” It would be easy for a musician who joins a longstanding band in the role of a replacement to just go through the motions and mail it in. That is not Matt Skiba. He rocked his guitar and sang with an unreal passion and energy.
The band performed six tracks off of their latest release, their first with Skiba. Lead single “Bored To Death” was just one highlight on a night full of them. A testament to the high quality and overly enthusiastic response to the material on California, there was no difference in the volume of the crowd singing these songs compared to the band’s deep list of hits. Interestingly enough, the band did not perform any tracks from their 2011 comeback album Neighborhoods; the band’s last with Delonge.
The band blazed through “Dysentery Gary” and “Happy Holidays, You Bastard” back to back, reminding fans of their humor with the songs vulgar, gut-wrenchingly hilarious lyrics. Mark Hoppus also capitalized at times through the show to get some laughs from the crowd. He informed everyone that “Scranton” contains almost all the necessary letters to spell “Scrotum” and revealed the secret reason they always perform encores; because they’re contractually obligated to.
Contractually obligated or not, the band returned to the stage for a three song encore that was the perfect icing on this perfect cake of a performance. With matching pink Fender Jaguar style guitars, Hoppus and Skiba closed out the night with the trio of “Carousel,” “All The Small Things” and “Dammit.” You could not have asked for a better set of songs to close out this unbelievable performance.
Blink 182, whatever their age, are like a fine wine; getting better with age, both in the studio and as live performers. If this is what growing up is all about, I guess more bands should follow the high benchmark set by Blink 182.
What’s My Age Again?
The Rock Show
I Miss You
Bored To Death
Built This Pool
Stay Together for the Kids
Kings of the Weekend
Happy Holidays, You Bastard
All the Small Things