One of OC’s most anticipated shows rolled into town Tuesday night in Irvine. The blink-182 20th anniversary tour celebrating Enema of the State has included co-headliner and much-heralded rapper Lil Wayne, a pairing that has proven challenging at previous stops but seemed to have gotten back on track lately. Alas, as the Music Fates would have it, a new derailment occurred at FivePoint Amphitheatre, where concertgoers learned Lil Wayne would not be performing due to unforeseen circumstances.
Given the social media buzz surrounding this tour, a solid chunk of the crowd just shrugged it off, although there were some devoted Lil Wayne fans visibly upset by the news. No explanation was announced for the cancellation and, in true showman style, the show went on, which was fortunate because most in attendance were pumped for a pop-punk show.
Neck Deep took the stage, and it was clear the opening band was happy to be playing for the crowd. The pop-punk band from England has a few albums under their belt, and the audience loved the fact that they are self-admitted blink fans. Neck Deep’s experience as Warped Tour vets paid dividends, as they knew how to engage with the crowd, make fans smile and crank up the volume, a combination that proved to be very entertaining. The set also helped to lighten the mood that had been dampened by Lil Wayne’s no-show, kicking the party into full swing before the main event, blink-182.
Day gave way to night as blink’s roadies prepared for the arrival of the pop-punk trio out of Poway, but the weather couldn’t have been any better. The stage was transformed into a very cool and epic cartoon-like stack of speakers that displayed a ton of backgrounds. As the lights dimmed, the piercing voice of Samuel L. Jackson spewed out his iconic Ezekiel 25:17 dialogue from Pulp Fiction. The venue’s sound system was fantastic and, as Jules Winnfield’s final words were uttered, the LED screens came into full effect, the smoke machines kicked in and the lights came up to Mark Hoppus running about the stage, Matt Skiba belting out vocals, and Travis Barker high above his drum kit as he slammed down upon it with furious anger. It sounded like a sonic boom signaling the boys of summer were back in Orange County.
The band came out to “Dumpweed” and segued into “Don’t Leave Me.” Hoppus then welcomed the crowd to the rock show and let them know blink would be playing Enema of the State from front-to-back, just the way he likes it! As fans lost their minds, Barker led them into the all too familiar beat of “Aliens Exist.” Inasmuch as we grew up with that song, it sounded great to hear it played live with such enthusiasm. The audience was brought to an even more heightened state when inflatable green and blue aliens were tossed around the venue. There may have also been a sheep or two floating about, you know … that good ol’ blink humor hard at work.
The crowd was thoroughly captivated by the music, with countless people singing along to every word of each song. Every age group imaginable was represented in the aisles, as well as every nationality. There was even a young woman in an Enema of the State nurses outfit walking around. I’d liken the atmosphere to Mardi Gras in New Orleans.
In the end, it boiled down to the music being what entertained the near-capacity crowd. Enema of the State has great lyrics, infections hooks and two decades later, we still can’t get enough of songs such as “What’s My Age Again,” “Adam’s Song,” “All the Small Things” and “Anthem.” Skiba and Hoppus ventured into the crowd and played “Down” and “Wasting Time”–to pure madness. Clearly, fans were engaged by the trio, who brought their “A” game last night.
Warm receptions from the audience also greeted newer songs like “Bored to Death” and “Blame It on My Youth.” To the crowd’s delight, Vic Mensa joined the band for “I Miss You,” which blew everyone away. So did the uber hits “First Date” and “Dammit,” with blink’s high energy rubbing off on the fully engaged crowd.
It’s hard to say what the end result will be of Lil Wayne’s absence. In all fairness, he later tweeted that issues with an airplane prevented him from making the Irvine date. We’ll see how it plays out in later days. Regardless, blink gave the fans what they came to see and hear Tuesday night. They played great music and let everyone know they really enjoyed doing so. That’s the kind of effort and joy money just can’t buy. Needless to say, it was a very good night for music in Orange County.