Pop Punk Heroes
San Diego’s Blink-182 rolled into NRG Stadium on Thursday night and brought a workmanlike attitude to their hour-long set of classic pop-punk tunes at RodeoHouston, a change of pace from the country-heavy lineup over the last few weeks. The band attracted one of the younger Rodeo audiences, comprised of a large number of attendees who grew up on the trio’s hits from the late '90s and early 2000s. Walking through the concourse before the show it was clear that fans had come out specifically to see their punk heroes as many of them were wearing official band T-shirts and hair colors every shade of hot neon.
Like Green Day, who played the Toyota Center a few weeks ago, Blink-182 is in the middle of a resurgence thanks to their best album in 15 years, California, which hit No. 1 last year. It’s one of seven Top 10 albums in the band’s career, contributing to over 50 million album sales worldwide.
The trio comprised of bassist-singer Mark Hoppus, newly acquired guitarist-singer Matt Skiba (formerly of Alkaline Trio), and drummer Travis Barker, stuck to their most popular albums — a strong showing for the aforementioned California, as well as familiar tunes from 1999’s Enema of the State, 2001's Take Off Your Pants and Jacket, and songs from the 2003 self-titled set, neglecting anything from the darker Neighborhoods from 2011.
The band kicked things off with a sweet fireworks display, in front of a crowd of 65,567, with “Feeling This.” Unfortunately, it took a few songs to find a good mix in sound quality, the drums drowning out melodic guitar hooks in the cavernous acoustics of NRG. Enema of the State single “What’s My Age Again?” brought the biggest cheers early on, with Hoppus asking afterwards, “So, how are the Texans going to do this season?” to even louder applause. “Alright, we’ll see,” he shrugged, perhaps knowing full well this team is without a starting quarterback.
Barker got the girls screaming a few songs in when he took his shirt off to reveal a full set of tattoos, something one likely won’t see on any of the country-themed nights. A word about Barker: he’s a dynamo and simply one of the most exciting drummers to watch in any genre of music. Not that Hoppus and Skiba are slouches, it’s that Blink-182 wouldn’t be as successful or exciting without the innovative and expert timekeeping Barker brings to the table, elevating the band’s brand of adolescent flavored punk to level of mainstream respect. Throughout the night, his drum fills and solos were a joy to behold.
Crowd interaction was minimal throughout the evening, with only Hoppus leaving the confines of his spot on the stage during songs when he wasn’t responsible for vocals. The best performances came on tracks from California, which makes perfect sense, as it is the only album with this current lineup. Skiba recently replaced former guitarist-vocalist Tom DeLonge, who quit to write books about UFOs (no, really). Songs that DeLonge would normally take vocal lead on were the ones that suffered, Skiba not having the range.
Where the band did succeed was in playing the big hits, which got the crowd on its feet, singing along. Staples like “Rock Show,” “I Miss You,” and “All The Small Things” were met with thunderous applause. For a band that is known for its sophomoric humor, it refrained from any swearing, likely a contractual obligation of appearing at a family-oriented event like RodeoHouston. Hoppus even left out a key F-word during set closer “Dammit,” the audience more than happy to fill in the blank.
Despite middling sound quality, Blink-182 proved they belong at RodeoHouston alongside hit makers of other genres. Once again, the talent bookers deserve credit for taking chances with their programming, proving that catering to fans of all musical tastes throughout the three-week event is a recipe for success.
Anthem Part 2
What’s My Age Again?
Bored To Death
I Miss You
She’s Out Of Her Mind
All The Small Things