It almost seems like forever – an event that was destined to happen in Neverary – but here we are. Strike up the band: blink-182 – in all their glory – is back, front and center, featuring Travis Barker, Mark Hoppus, and Tom DeLonge. The trio was poised and ready for the near-capacity crowd at Banc of California Stadium in the City of Angels.
Getting here was quite the journey, and I am not talking about the drive on the 5 or the 405. I mean for the band and their fans. Truth is, the band never broke up, but DeLonge did leave back in 2015 to pursue his very successful project known as Angels and Airwaves. And since we all know “Aliens Exist,” there was his out-of-this-world project to consider. In his absence, Matt Skiba of Alkaline Trio filled in. Fans loved him, but they always longed for a reunion of the original bandmates. All fans owe Skiba a debt of gratitude as with Skiba, the band kept together, which made this reunion possible.
Barker has also had a multitude of projects (including collabs with Machine Gun Kelly, Willow Smith, The Aquabats, Post Malone, and Avril Lavigne), and we just found out he will be a dad again very soon.
But it was Hoppus who has had the toughest road to get back on stage. He was diagnosed with stage four diffuse large B-cell lymphoma, and things got dark for a minute; maybe more than a minute. We all found out about it by chance versus design. On his Insta account, Hoppus posted: “Yes hello. One cancer treatment, please.” He thought it was a post for his close friends; instead it went out to his million-plus followers.
In an interview with GQ magazine, Hoppus said, “I went through this whole period of like, not why me, but of course me. Why wouldn’t it be me? We’ve had so much good luck and good fortune, and things have kind of fallen into place for me specifically for so long, that of course I was due. I was due for something tragic.” As the music fates would have it, this was not the end of the road for Mark Hoppus or blink-182.
There is a saying; “Something has to give.” Luckily for us and Hoppus of course, it was the news that a future seemed possible for him.
As with many things in life, sometimes tragic events bring out the best in us. In this case, the diagnosis brought the trio back together, and whatever the issues were in the past, they were a distant memory and getting Hoppus healthy was all that mattered. Once that happened, it was a collective decision to make a new record and tour the world again; their own personal Warped Tour so-to-speak! Here we were: 2023 in Los Angeles, and life for blink couldn’t be better. Their fans were ready to welcome them back with open arms.
Opening the show was Barker’s son, Landon. Truthfully, I wasn’t sure what to expect. As I stood alongside other fans, the jury was out on Landon. The staging sparked interest in the crowd as there were mannequins set up throughout the stage.
Because Barker was the opener, it was an abbreviated set, which is a shame as the crowd was still rolling in and he did very well. He had good vocals; the band was tight and entertained the early bird crowd, who appreciated his set. We were in the soundboard area and his dad was there with the Mrs., taking in the set. Needless to say, all is good in Barker-land.
What I like about Banc of California Stadium – or BMO as it’s also known – is, it is a beautiful, sprawling venue, and it was as if the music gods designed that place for concerts, because the acoustics are crazy good, and there is not a bad seat in the house.
As the crowd started to fill in, it was clear this show was not a teenage dude ranch, because there were fans of all ages, races and nationalities there representing their favorite blink album in costume.
Luckily for everyone, it didn’t take long for the crew to get the stage ready for the next band, Turnstile. Here’s something we can all agree on: some bands are great at smaller venues, but that leap to the big stage can be daunting. I am happy to report Turnstile is a band that was made for the big lights because they came out with their hair on fire.
The hardcore rockers from Baltimore made their presence known immediately. Lead singer Brendan Yates took no prisoners with his electrifying stage presence, and the band was beyond animated.
With a volcanic feel to their performance, they were like spinning tops draped in flames while running around the stage. The only downside of their performance was the fact that they were opening so it was again, an abbreviated set. Turnstile opened big with “Mystery,” and segued into “Underwater Boi,” and after about five-second break, went back at it with “T.L.C.” The crowd was into it and started a mosh pit that was legit!
Daniel Fang displayed a high-energy drum solo that also got an enormous reaction from the crowd before they rolled into “Alien Love Call.” The highlight of the set was the closing. It was surreal as I was fortunate enough to see Rage Against the Machine in their heyday, and it was as if Yates was channeling Zack de la Rocha to the stage. It was eerie cool how his movements and delivery, with the pulsating sound from the band, came across the BMO sound system, as the crowd flipped on its head to “Holiday,” and then “Blackout.” Wow is all I can say to describe that closing.
After all the pomp and circumstance that led to this moment, the crowd was filled with frenzied anticipation, and the excitement was beyond palpable. Then, as the lights dimmed, and the blink logo stared to manifest on the video board behind the drum kit, the crowd went off as the show started off with “Anthem Part Two.”
For the blink armada that by now had descended upon BMO, this show had everything you had hope for. It lived up to the hype with lights, smoke, confetti, and an unreal pyrotechnic show worthy of anything you would see on the Vegas strip. Plus there was an over-the-top “Enema of the State” floating ambulance. What would a blink show be without a flying saucer in the mix along with that Barker elevating drum kit?!
What stood out to me was that I remember seeing this band in what seems like a lifetime ago, and the way they played off each other; that magic was back. It was like the Warped Tour blink was back and living their truth – their life at the rock show!
DeLonge – as he did back in the day – used his charm and wit to intro songs. Hoppus – ever the skilled musician – was all over the place. And Barker. Well, Barker was being Barker and killed it on the skins. The hit parade began: “The Rock Show,” “Family Reunion,” and “Man Overboard” brought the faithful to a new level of euphoria while Barker broke into solo moments of pure bongo genius.
Of course, being that it was a renewed energy of the band, the newer fans got to hear the “your mom” jokes exchanged between DeLonge and Hoppus as well as clever ways to insert F- and S-bombs in a sentence. It was definitely a learning opportunity for the kids.
As the next set of songs took front and center, the dressed-up nurses and bunnies in costume could be seen throughout BMO dancing to their favorite songs: “Feeling This,” “Reckless Abandon,” “Violence,” and “Up All Night.”
By then the crowd was in full enema of the state versus blink empire mode. As blink summoned the bunnies, “EDGING,” their most recent single, took over BMO before the hovering UFO made an appearance to “Aliens Exist.” Just when you thought the crowd couldn’t be any more bananas, they took their screams to an even higher level.
The hit parade went on and on, and the crowd was hit with a seismic force that only this band could deliver.
They took us on a sonic journey through the soundtrack of our lives with “I Miss You,” “Adam’s Song,” “What’s My Age Again,” and “First Date.”
The show was just about over, but blink had two more nuggets up their sleeve. With new meaning after the previous night’s baby reveals, they went into “All the Small Things,” and closed the night with “Dammit.”
It was clear by the way the crowd reacted they did not want the night to end. The fans were loud, inspired by music, and they didn’t dance like nobody was watching; they danced like they didn’t give an F what anyone thought about their dancing. That is a recipe for a moment in time these fans will remember for a lifetime.
Onward for blink as their tour continues. If you have a chance, seriously, go out and see them as it will be a show you will talk about for years to come.