Last Night: Blink-182, Weezer, Taking Back Sunday, Asher Roth at the Verizon Wireless Amphitheater, Irvine; September 17, 2009.
Better Than: Growing up.
Hostile Territory: Blink-182 is doing a huge promotion with the T-Mobile Sidekick, and advertisements were plastered all over the Verizon Wireless Amphitheater.
Blink-182 and Weezer both released their first albums in 1994. They're both two of the most successful "alternative rock" bands of the last couple decades. Both bands have had a ton of hits, but Weezer a bit more--more albums, too. Weezer's been part of the public consciousness a lot longer, hitting big with their self-titled debut and songs like "Buddy Holly" and "Undone (The Sweater Song)"--it took until 1999's Enema of the State for Blink-182 to truly break the mainstream.
So why was Weezer opening up for Blink-182?
Well, that's easy. Blink-182 went away for a few years, while Weezer stuck around, releasing singles like "Beverly Hills" that were incredibly popular with the public at large but attracted nothing but scorn from their long-time fans. Blink-182 was probably on that same path--except instead of becoming sillier, they were (shudder!) growing up somewhat, releasing more mellow, thoughtful songs like "Down" and "I Miss You"--and opening up for No Doubt, on a summer 2004 amphitheater tour.
But, thanks to a falling-out between founding members singer/bassist Mark Hoppus and singer/guitarist Tom DeLonge, the band disappeared for about a half-decade. In the interim, they started new projects--+44 and Angels and Airwaves, respectively--but neither caught on the way Blink did. Following a tragic plane crash last fall in which Blink-182 drummer Travis Barker--who opened the encore by playing a drum solo while floating 15 feet above the stage on a lifted, rotating platform--and DJ AM (who passed away late last month) were the only survivors, the band's now back together. And people care a whole lot more than they did in 2004.
The songs are the same--Thursday night's set featured no new songs, but focused on their two later records, 2001's Take Off Your Pants and Jacket and 2003's self-titled. And they sounded just as good as ever, which is to say that if you had an affection for pop-punk songs that include sodomy jokes and posit men in their mid-'30s (to be fair, they were in the mid-'20s when they were written) in the place of misunderstood teenagers, the show was a long-awaited treat.
Despite the wedges space and time drove between DeLonge and Hoppus over the hiatus, they seemed to pick up right where they left--for better or worse. Dusty old jokes about an Amish sexual position called "the Butterchurn." Introducing "All the Small Things" by saying it's about their agent's penis. Hoppus claiming that his favorite move to use on DeLonge's mother was called "cleaning the musket."
Sure, it was dumb. But it worked (even if it was a little awkward, given DeLonge's exploration of his serious side in Angels and Airwaves), exactly because it's been five years since we've seen all this. Dudes in their 30s coming back after a while to do their old schtick is cool. Them doing it continually until their 40s, kind of sad. Which is why it's tricky to picture what the future of the band might be--can they really just keep doing what they're doing, or are they going to have to push the "mature" side explored in their self-titled album even further? And would anyone by interested in a mature, old, Blink-182?
Weezer, it's been said, have actually regressed since their first couple of albums, especially Pinkerton, the one held in the highest of esteem by indie hipsters. It seems like sort of a bullshit claim; they've always been silly. The lead single of Pinkerton opened with "Goddamn, you half Japanese girls," and they first got attention by putting scenes from Happy Days in a music video. But they don't seem to have any interest in being taken seriously, and have only become more popular as a result. Though it is a little disturbing how Fall Out Boy-esque ("(If You're Wondering If I Want You To) Want You To") the title of their new single is.
Thursday night, they sounded pretty flawlessly, with a no-filler hour-long set that actually included half of the Blue Album, and ended with a cover of "Should I Stay or Should I Go." Recent OC Weekly cover dude Josh Freese filled in on drums for songs where Patrick Wilson played guitar (which is most of them in concert these days, though Wilson was behind a kit for "Say It Ain't So"). Singer Rivers Cuomo seemed to be in a happy, wacky mood, proclaiming "may you strike me down with a thunderbolt, I will not stop rocking tonight," smashing a ukulele for no discernible reason, and pronouncing the headlining band's name as "blink one hundred and eighty two." Keyboard Cat played them off. They love their Internet memes.
So even though they were in the support position on this sold-out show, Blink-182 might actually be able to take some career advice from Weezer: just keep doing your thing. It might not please critics. Or hardcore fans. But it might be the best bet in keeping you happy and rich for a good while longer.
Personal Bias: Blink-182 and Weezer were two of my favorite bands when I started really getting into music back in junior high. I had a screen name that was "albert182." Ahh. Memories.
Random Detail: Tom DeLonge had what was described to me (I would have no idea) masonic symbols on his guitar and amp. Sort of like this.
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By the Way: OC Weekly staff writer Spencer Kornhaber recently pointed out to me that the title of Blink-182's fourth album, Take Off Your Pants and Jacket, was a dirty pun. I would have never realized that otherwise. Oh, and they're playing Verizon again tonight with Fall Out Boy. Still sold out.
Weezer set list:
"Surf Wax America"
"(If You're Wondering If I Want You To) Want You To"
"Say It Ain't So"
"My Name is Jonas"
"Island in the Sun"
"Pork and Beans"
"Should I Stay or Should I Go"
Blink-182 set list:
"Girl at the Rock Show"
"Whats My Age Again?"
"I Miss You"
"Stay Together for the Kids"
"Don't Leave Me"
"All the Small Things"
"Anthem Part 2"