Blink 182: Reunion Review

Tom DeLonge, Blink 182's guitarist, and Travis Barker, their drummer, are each 33 years old. The bassist and co-lead singer (as he puts it), Mark Hoppus, is a ripe old, 37 years old. But when Blink-182 takes the stage, they walk, talk, and act like 17-year old kids again. Or at least, they act like I did when I was 17.

I got the pleasure of seeing their reunion tour this year in Detroit, on August 22nd. What was even more interesting about the experience for me however, was the fact that I'd seen them live five times beforehand. This put me in a unique position to accurately compare their post break-up performance to several of their previous live shows throughout their years as a band. It was almost like seeing old friends again.  Old friends who have no idea who I am.

Blink 182 at The 51st Grammy Awards on February 8, 2009 announcing their reunion
Blink 182 at The 51st Grammy Awards on February 8, 2009 announcing their reunion

Now, I had not only seen Blink perform live five different times in three different cities, but I had all of their albums, and I listened to them constantly. I'm sure you can imagine my dismay, when in 2004, they announced their "indefinite hiatus." This was the band that helped me get through my awkward teenage years. They helped me get through my break-ups and algebra II. This was my band. But as George Harrison said, "All things must pass."

So a bunch of stuff happened, and then five years later, I'm sitting on the couch, watching the Grammys (which I don't typically do) and I see Blink 182 take the stage. Travis Barker says, "We used to play music together, and we decided we're going to play music together again."

"Can this mean what I think it means?" I ask myself.

"Blink is back!" exclaimed Hoppus. My jaw dropped. I called my friends to tell them. They had all heard it too. I looked online to see if it was true. Their website confirmed it. Shortly thereafter they announced a reunion tour. And very shortly after that, I got tickets.

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The Reunion Review

So, of course I was excited to see how Mark, Tom, and Travis would perform. But I was also slightly nervous. It had been so long since I'd seen them. I mean, they had kids now, they were getting older. Tom had started a new band, and Mark and Travis continued on with a new band as well. Travis even had a near-death experience in a plane crash with DJ AM. The two of them being the only survivors.

The openers of the show were a couple bands that were used to headlining. First up was Panic! at the Disco. They did well. Their set was tight. The vocals were spot-on, and the songs sounded almost exactly like they did on their albums. Next up was Fall Out Boy. They were equally good. Especially in their opening song, "Sugar We're Goin Down" when Mark Hoppus dropped a giant black curtain on them from backstage. The entire band was blocked out from the audience, and then the curtain fell, covering the members in a chaotic black fabric mess, but they didn't miss a beat! Patrick Stump didn't miss a single word. At first, it just looked like a technical difficulty, until bassist Pete Wentz found out it was Mark Hoppus, and announced it to the audience. It might have had something to do with the fact that it was Fall Out Boy's last day on the tour.

But then, the big act came on. Blink-182. And they performed exactly like they did when I saw them in high school. It was messy, raw, and offensive. It was exactly the Blink I was hoping I'd see.

Unlike their opening bands, Blink didn't seem too concerned with perfection. Many of the lyrics in their songs were changed by Tom. Like the famous "She left me roses by the stairs" line in All The Small Things was altered to become "She left me blowjobs by the stairs." Tom made a comment in the middle of Reckless Abandon about going down on Oprah Winfrey. In between songs, Mark kept slamming Tom's mom, saying that she had a penis, and then making fun of her because she didn't have a penis. Tom shut down all the mom jokes when he said that Mark's mom fucks babies. Mark laughed hysterically and as they began the next song, I wondered to myself, "Are they joking? Or are they really mad at each other?"

It was difficult to come to a definite conclusion at first because Blink had always been this way. They always said things to each other of unparalleled offensiveness. But maybe this is different. After all, they had a big falling out. They broke up. And now they're up there in front of tens of thousands of people yelling at each other to get the fuck off their side of the stage. But all my worries were cast aside, when they finished the next song, and Tom exclaimed "That was fucking awesome!!" Tom ran over to Mark's side of the stage and gave him a high-five. Mark replied, "No, that deserves more than a high-five. That deserves a band hug." They then proceeded to walk up onto Travis' drum platform and they all hugged each other for about fifteen seconds (an obvious photo opportunity which was heavily capitalized on). Now fifteen seconds may not seem like much, but for a three-way dude hug, that's the equivalent of a two hour boyfriend/girlfriend hug.

Mark Hoppus (left) and Tom DeLonge (right) rocking out on their 2009 reunion tour
Mark Hoppus (left) and Tom DeLonge (right) rocking out on their 2009 reunion tour

So aside from the classic stage antics and foul language, how was the actual performance? It was amazing. Now it wasn't their best performance of the six I've seen, but it was definitely second or third. Their energy was raw and powerful. The flaws in the performance made it seem so much more authentic. The opening bands, while very good as well, had every last note down to perfection. They were just basically rehearsing in front of 20,000 people. Blink-182 was performing. They were still tight, don't get me wrong. It wasn't amateur at all. It just felt more relaxed. It was like watching a club band playing in front of an arena crowd. And Blink-182 is just as comfortable in front of 20,000 people as they would be in front of 200. They owned the crowd, and the crowd loved it. It was a stellar live performance. You could tell they were genuinely glad to be back together, and they were having the time of their lives. It was almost as though the stage had no measurable time.  It felt like not a minute had passed between the last live show of theirs I had seen five years earlier, and the night of August 22nd, 2009.  And what more could you ask of your old high school friends?  Your old friends who have no idea who you are.

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