September 28, 2011

LIFESTYLE: Nostalgia Alone Not Enough For Blink-182

by Jon R. LaFollette

Need proof for how powerful memories can be? Attending the Honda Civic Tour’s stop at Verizon Wireless Music Center in Noblesville was an exercise in time travel as a respectable crowd of 18,000 showed up to see Blink-182, a band eight years removed from any new material, perform song after song about the awkward stages of, and coming to terms with, growing up.

Yet nostalgia alone can only carry a band so far. As Blink proved with a sloppily phoned in performance, memories of listening to their songs at the height of their fame a decade ago can vanish rather quickly. This night, the moment of good feelings disappearing was right before the sixth song of their 22 song set, “Miss You”.

“I’m sick, my voice is gone, and I’m drunk,” guitarist-vocalist Tom DeLonge said before lazily working his way through the song. “I’m almost to the point of not remembering any of tonight’s show because I drank half a bottle of vodka before coming out here.” DeLonge would go on to reiterate himself four times by night’s end.

Playing music seemed secondary to Blink, as bassist Mark Hoppus and drummer Travis Barker would lollygag between songs along with DeLonge by bantering back and forth with jokes that were funny when Bill Clinton was in the Oval Office.

Even some of the music seemed painfully dated. Songs involving excrement, reproductive organs and profanity were supposed to be chuckle worthy simply for saying an obvious and dull, joke. Such numbers may have won over the young tween crowd in attendance, but for those who grew up with the band, Blink proved to be a one trick pony – and an old one at that.

When a more serious demeanor was called for on more mature songs like “Let’s Stay Together for the Kids”  a somber look at divorce through the eyes of a child caught in the middle, DeLonge’s facial expressions made it obvious he’d rather be backstage drinking the other half of his unconsumed vodka. His disposition weighed whatever momentum Hoppus and Barker tried to create.

Yet the night was not a complete loss. Opening act Matt & Kim, and electro-pop duo from Brooklyn played a solidly fun, if uninspiring set, before My Chemical Romance, the tour’s special guest act, plowed through a retrospective 12 song set including the spunky opener “Na Na Na”, the bombastically Queen-esque “Welcome to the Black Parade” and the regrettably emo “Helena”.

For all the nostalgia on display, the most telling moment came during MCR’s set when front man Gerard Way dedicated the song “Kids From Yesterday” to Blink as a way of saying thank you for being invited to play with the band. It’s sad, because yesterday really is the best place for Blink-182 to stay.

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