When Mark Hoppus made a joke about playing in a tin can, it was obvious that he was poking fun at the name of Denver’s venue, the Pepsi Center, but even from the more expensive floor seats, his words rang true. Although I’ve lived in Colorado my entire life, this was my first concert at the Pepsi Center, but long before Blink-182, or their openers The All-American Rejects and A Day To Remember took the stage, I was already well aware that the venue is notorious for not having the greatest sound. Unfortunately, this was proven true throughout the night as sets were riddled with sound problems, but thankfully, each band’s performance (especially Blink-182’s) more than made up for the less than high quality sound system.
Opening up Denver’s show were pop-rock veterans, The All-American Rejects, and they came out swinging. The band wasted no time in getting the show started on the right foot, opening up with their huge single, “Dirty Little Secret,” from 2007’s Move Along before diving into another fan-favorite, “Swing, Swing.” It was like a trip down nostalgia lane, and even frontman Tyson Ritter was well aware of this, joking about forgetting what year it was - is this 2006?
Following The All-American Rejects was the explosive A Day To Remember. The band, who just released their new album, Bad Vibrations are well known for their wild live performances, and thankfully, they didn’t hold back this time around. Despite having just put out a new record, A Day To Remember took a page from The All-American Rejects’ book and opened up their set with the “Downfall Of Us All,” the opening track from their 2009 release Homesick. And just as the song kicked in, the band’s crew were throwing massive beach balls into the crowd to really get the party going. From there, A Day To Remember launched into “I’m Made Of Wax, Larry, What Are You Made Of?” and by then, the entire venue had come alive.
Unfortunately, ADTR’s set was plagued by the Pepsi Center’s notorious sound problems, and just as they dove into their third song and introduced Blink-182 drummer Travis Barker to the stage, the PA system seemed to cut out. The technical difficulties were met with angry cries from the band’s fans, but it didn’t deter ADTR from moving forward, nor did it stop their devoted fans from belting the words to “2nd Sucks” back at the band, attempting to make up for the lack of sound. Although the band couldn’t have experienced technical difficulties at any worse time during their set, the crowd seemed understanding, and as soon as things were back on track, they were more excited than ever. Thankfully, the rest of ADTR’s set went on without a hitch. Above everything, the band was incredibly fun to watch as they goofed off on stage with one another and threw t-shirts and toilet paper into the crowd - they served as the perfect opener for a band like Blink-182.
When the headliner finally took the stage, the Pepsi Center finally seemed to fill out. The floor was completely packed and the seats were lined with anxious and excited fans, all trying to catch a glimpse of the band from behind the big black curtain covering the stage. Anticipation was running high, and when the curtain finally dropped and the band opened with “Feeling This,” the crowd erupted into screams of joy.
Blink-182’s set was an onslaught on all of the senses. From the pyrotechnics, including but not limited to a giant, flaming “FUCK” that served as the backdrop to “Feeling This,” to LED screens and one of the best light shows I’ve had the pleasure seeing all the way to Mark Hoppus and Matt Skiba’s surprisingly flawless harmonies, the set promised to be one of the best shows of the year, and that was only two songs in. Blink-182 didn’t hold back one bit, moving from “Feeling This” into another fan-favorite, “What’s My Age Again?” and then to the hilarious, “Family Reunion,” which reminded fans that, despite their lineup change, Blink haven’t forgotten who they are. In fact, the band’s entire set was riddled with jokes, antics and even blow up dolls - one step up from ADTR’s beach balls - which some people would think were all used to distract from the band’s performance, but only added to their solid sound.
Although there was a shaky moment or two - a couple of times during the set, it was easy to remember that the band was missing Tom DeLonge - for the majority of the show, Matt Skiba delivered flawless vocals and then some, especially shining on the band’s newer tracks from California. Nothing about Blink’s set felt forced. After over twenty years together, Mark Hoppus and Travis Barker made playing look easy, and Skiba slid right into the co-frontman position. Not even the altitude seemed to affect the band, and Hoppus touched on this between songs, joking, “I don’t mind the altitude - you get drunk twice as fast!”
The highlights of Blink’s set came during the moments when you realized that, despite how much the band has changed and evolved over the years, in many ways they are still the same goofballs that fans first fell in love with. When Hoppus asked fans to take out their phones and illuminate a dark stage with their flashlights, most people would assume that the band was about to play a slower, more intimate song, but Blink fans were delighted when instead, the band launched into the short, fast and hilarious, “Happy Holidays, You Bastard.” And the set wouldn’t be complete without a four-song encore, kicking off with the usual “Carousel,” before ending things on a high note with “All The Small Things,” “Brohemian Rhapsody” and “Dammit.”
By the time Blink-182 left the stage in ruins, fans were both transported back to when the first fell in love with the band and reminded why they can still pack venues like the Pepsi Center to this day. Although Blink could play a tiny, 500 cap venue with no gimmicks and no fancy stage lights and still kill it, they are also well aware of how to give their fans the performance of a lifetime, even from the cheap seats in the very back of a stadium, and that’s exactly why the band is still able to do what they do over twenty years later - and they do it well.