NEW YORK — Even though their songs have always dealt with girl trouble, family angst and other teenage frustrations, Blink-182 got pegged early on as a joke band thanks to their locker-room humor and well-documented affinity for fart jokes, boobies, porno and poop. Now, the boys in Blink are turning into men.
Sunday night at Irving Plaza, Blink emphasized their new frame of mind by focusing more on their songs than their shtick. Their new tracks are their most mature yet, addressing adult issues of romantic woe, anxiety and depression. But that didn't mean Blink weren't having fun.
Guitarist/vocalist Tom DeLonge and bassist/vocalist Mark Hoppus were all smiles as they stomped, hopped and spun around the stage, and drummer Travis Barker looked like a Mohawked Tasmanian Devil as he flailed at his kit.
Above all, Blink-182 were there to rock. They ripped through 15 songs in less than an hour and flavored the set with six new songs from their self-titled record, which comes out November 18. The angular, urgent single "Feeling This" epitomized the depth and range of the new material, starting with barking vocals and a skewed guitar line.
The other new tracks were just as compelling. "Obvious" featured a down-tuned guitar opening and a midsection of drum fills that sounded like volleys of fireworks. "Violence" sounded gritty and fraught with tension and "Down" combined a chugarrific guitar rhythm with a chorus in which Hoppus chanted, "Meow, meow, meow, meow." (Maybe they're
hoping for a spot in the next Meow Mix commercial?)
Blink also proved they haven't lost their fervor for hardcore, jacking up "Go" into a blur of energy as potent as a double espresso on an empty stomach (see "No Album Title, No Preconceptions: The New
For those hankering for the old, naughty Blink, the band obliged by starting the set with the profanity-laced "Family Reunion" before launching into the head-bobbing "What's My Age Again?"
"As a special tonight, every single person here gets oral sex as you leave," quipped DeLonge before "Down." Prior to the show closer, "Dammit," he joked, "I need Pedialyte. Or is anybody lactating? Either one, 'cause I'm thirsty."
The show was set up as part of a club jaunt preceding a larger tour. Tickets for the concerts were priced at one dollar, and select retailers are offering free tickets to fans who pre-buy the new album (see "Blink-182 To Play Shows For A Buck").
"You paid a whole dollar to get in? Wow, that's twice what we're worth," DeLonge joked, proving that no matter how serious Blink become, they still don't take themselves too seriously.
In the middle of poignant "Stay Together for the Kids," the guitarist made a major mistake, and instead of covering up as if nothing had happened, he made an exaggerated grimace and mouthed the words, "I f---ed up." After the song ended, DeLonge said, "I know it seems like the guy playing the guitar f---ed up the first half of the song." He then pleaded for the forgiveness from the band and fans and insisted, "This next one's gonna be a lot better," as Blink kicked into "All the Small Things."
The highlights of the set were two songs from band's 2001 album Take Off Your Pants and Jacket, "Rock Show" and "First Date," the latter of which conveyed all the nervous energy, excitement and sexual tension of, well, a first date. Some fans may have been let down by Blink's failure to encore and their exclusion of "Don't Leave Me," "Aliens
Exist" and "Adam's Song." Then again, the bandmembers are all grown up and have kids, so maybe they needed to get back to the hotel and call home.
Hillbilly rapper Bubba Sparxxx seems like an unexpected opening act, but Blink weren't just happy to take him on the road — they handpicked him. Two years ago, drummer Travis Barker discovered Bubba's Dark Days, Bright Nights and turned his bandmates on to the Timbaland-produced act, so when Blink heard Bubba had a new disc out,
they asked him out.
The appreciative rapper plugged Blink-182 at every opportunity. "Those guys are for real in an industry of fakes and snakes," the hefty Southern wordsmith said. "Tonight I'm gonna make sure every one of you Blink fans leaves here a fan of Bubba, too."
Bubba may complain at times about being perceived as a Podunk redneck, yet his presentation encourages it. "I'm a country m-----f---er," boasted Bubba half way through his set, splitting no hairs. And on "Jimmy Mathis," he proudly rapped, "When I get to doin' my Hillbilly dance/ A step to the left, two steps to the right/ Take a shot of Patrón and get back to the mic."
His actions said as much as his words. A couple songs in, Bubba brought on "Slim," a beer-guzzling hick in a hat and blue overalls, and claimed the dude was his dad. Slim spent most of the show walking back and forth downing cans of Budweiser, but he picked up a guitar for "Deliverance" and strummed the main jangly riff.
Bubba was joined by knit-capped rapper Dirrty for most of his songs, and turntablist DJ Scientist provided an array of deft scratching. During his solo slot, he spun around, manipulated the records with his elbows, and stood on his hands and scratched with his feet.
But it was Bubba who was the visual highlight. On the upbeat, guitar-pumped "Back in the Mud," he waved a white towel and stepped heavily into every verse, and before "Ugly" he self-deprecatingly said, "I think it's obvious to anyone with functional eyes that I'm a sexy m-----f---er," then removed his shirt and jiggled to the beat.
For more sights and stories from concerts around the country, check out MTV News Tour Reports.