Blink-182 - Music Hall of Williamsburg - 9/11/13
Better Than: Everything.
Photo: Maria Sherman
It started like a movie. The lights dim and rise up again. Excited cheers stifled by a few excited gasps. Half a second goes by and...
"I'VE GOT NO REGRET RIGHT NOW."
The nasal boom comes from deep within guitarist Tom DeLonge's throat, and with a ferocity that's unmatched by his lack of movement throughout the night. He'll scream, but he won't move very much. After being in a band for 21 years, he's earned it.
It's September 11th, 2013 and tonight, Blink-182 perform in, but mostly for, New York. It's 12 years after 9/11. In those 12 years, the pop punk trio have become fathers. They've had prime time television shows. They've headlined arenas and traveled the world. On this night, Blink-182 play Music Hall of Williamsburg.
Back in pop-punk's heyday it was called North Six, and during the early days of the venue Blink were too massive for the space, they are, and will always be, a stadium rock band, perhaps the only humble one of their size.
This show was a benefit, each $35 ticket going toward cancer centers, burn victims, and organizations that support diabetes research. This is the day after the band performed at the recently rebuilt Starland Ballroom, after the damage of Hurricane Sandy, and felt especially important for drummer Travis Barker, who in 2008 was left severely burned after a private plane crash in South Carolina. Barker and his friend DJ AM, who was also aboard the flight, were the only survivors: his personal assistant Chris Baker and Che Still, along with the two pilots, died in the crash.
Brooklyn indie rock heroes DIIV opened the show, playing to a largely unenthusiastic crowd (the band would later tell me they weren't allowed to go backstage, so perhaps they too were unenthusiastic.) On the balcony above, bassist Mark Hoppus watched gleefully with his family.
Next was New Beat Fund, a fun band with the cool markings of sunny Southern California, safe rebellion and "fuck yous." A band that, even if you don't enjoy sonically, aren't hard to look at.
Then, of course, Blink-182. For the last decade or so, seeing Blink-182 live consists of a rotating drum stage, drummer Barker aerially propelled above the crowd. There's a massive light show, 3-D graphics of moving neighborhoods aesthetically in line with their 2011 record. Tonight, there were no decorations, no backdrop of any kind, but the intensity was still there.
In the great friendships of all time, let us rejoice in the light of Mark Hoppus and Tom DeLonge, the original bromance. They are a family and they will host you as such. Banter is meant to entertain, and thank god their self-deprecating dick jokes haven't gone anywhere.
The crowd was enthusiastic, even if many unfamiliar with the band's deeper cuts. (How can we live in a world where people don't know the words to "Carousel?") The bros were out in full force, of course, dressed in their tour shirts from the previous night. My only complaint: girls to the front seemed to be a foreign concept, but girlfriends to the front in full swing. Napoleon had his Waterloo, for the underground, we'll fall slain to the hands of bros (this is why we can't have nice things, etc.) At one point even DeLonge shamed the crowd for grabbing Kim Schifino of Matt & Kim's butt while she crowd-surfed. Justice!
For Blink, with age comes consistency, and they showcased it by playing the set list they've played all tour, which mostly consists of the hits. It's consistent, but never complacent: this is the difference between the good and the great. Guess which camp Blink belong to?
My night ended by being pulled over by a cop and ticketed for drinking on the street on a way to a friend's apartment after the show. If that's not in the true to the spirit of the "Hanging out behind the club on the weekend/ Acting stupid, getting drunk with my best friends" Blink-182 debauchery, I don't know what is. I guess this is growing up.
Critical Bias: Without Blink-182, there is a very real possibility I wouldn't have gotten into Fugazi/DC Hardcore.
Overheard: "What a cool small venue! We should go to more shows here!" [Insert shrug emoji]
Random Notebook Dump: Mark Hoppus is definitely the Jon Wurster of Pop-Punk.
Up All Night
The Rock Show
What's My Age Again?
Dogs Eating Dogs
I Miss You
Heart's All Gone
Ghost on the Dancefloor
All the Small Things