PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Nearly nineteen years ago the world was first introduced to Blink 182, with an infectious time-tested riff and the shout-a-long chorus of their song “Dammit”.
“Well I guess this is growing up” sang bassist and singer Mark Hoppus.
The idea of growing up has been a mixed but mostly successful journey for the boys of Blink – from chart-topping tunes of suspended adolescents, to former member Tom Delonge’s departure to deliver “big secrets”, to a maturation of material and sound. The San Diego pop punk standard-bearers have mostly navigated the landmines for a return to glory.
Really growing up is all about finding balance, as the pendulum swings to extremes throughout our life until we settle into ourselves. For Blink 182 it seems the same.
After a success built on lovelorn locker room anthems, everyone began to take themselves much more seriously with weighty material and a host of distractions. However, they’ve managed to mine the best of both incarnations on their latest album California. The result has been a return to top of mind, top of charts, and a whole new set of fans to pack the BB&T Pavilion in Camden, NJ on Friday night.
As the curtain dropped, Blink 182 was all energy with a barrage of hits for each era. Hoppus, along with new guitarist and singer Matt Skiba sprinted across the length of the stage and the drumming freight train of Travis Barker boomed.
Blink was noticeably tighter and faster than ever before, with many older songs like “What’s My Age Again?” and “The Rock Show” benefiting from this sharper, more spirited version of the band.
Mostly gone was the hilarious yet meandering banter of the “Mark, Tom And Travis Show” days, instead they charged through, saving the juvenile jokes primarily for songs like the expletive-laced “Family Reunion”.
Mostly though, not completely as Hoppus kidded about being in “Philajersia” while navigating what to call the Camden crowd assembled from both sides of the river.
“This is definitely the most intimately sweaty, steam-bathy, grotesque exchange of sweat on sweat bodies since my wedding night” Hoppus also added between songs.
The visuals were quick and chaotic that played from giant video screens on risers and behind Barker. Skulls, graffiti, and band logos flashed as flames and sparks would shoot from the stage upping the intensity. The crowd which spanned all ages shouted along with matched passion – both in the seats and the wild west of the lawn.
Much of Blink 182’s set showed them off as a stronger, more polished band than ever previously imagined. However, as is the case with all tales of growing up, there are some things that you just can’t do like you used to.
Some of the more immature “Enema Of The State” era songs originally sang by Tom DeLonge fell flat when sang by new recruit Matt Skiba. The nasal yelp of DeLonge was a tough match for the coarser howl of Skiba. Lyrics like “I need a girl that I can train” sounded uncomfortable and foreign from Skiba, like a miscast vocalist in a Blink 182 cover band at best.
The new lineup for Blink 182 shined brightest of course during songs from their latest California, the ones actually built by the band of stage. Hoppus, Barker, and Skiba seem set for another generation of pop punk and have struck a balance for the time ahead.
As the night came to a close in the sweat-drenched city of Camden, Blink 182 finished out the evening with that song from the very beginning.
“Well I guess this is growing up,” Hoppus sang.
Well, it appears it is.