Great leap beyond
Blink-182 isn’t afraid of dividing fans and startling critics as it enters a fresh stage.
FOR airplane-phobic drummer Travis Barker, the gig required a quick trip across town in a pimped-out low rider. Singer-bassist Mark Hoppus flew 5,400 miles from London. And with sky’s-the-limit rock-star gusto, guitarist-vocalist Tom DeLonge bypassed traffic on the 405 and helicoptered in from San Diego.
With the sun high in the autumn sky, Blink-182 arrived at the Hollywood Palladium to find a punk-rock centipede, a line of heavily tattooed, extravagantly pierced and Mohawk-sporting fans waiting for the sold-out show.
The scene made Hoppus uncharacteristically wistful. “I was that dude!” he said. “I saw so many Palladium shows.”
With two back-to-back Palladium performances selling out in 36 seconds (and three other quickly scheduled dates at L.A.’s Wiltern Theater sold out as well), Blink-182’s pop-punk cultural output is still defined by arrested adolescence.
Blink rose from San Diego’s suburban torpor to become perhaps the least likely alterna-rock band to conquer mainstream radio.
But that band of bros singing about burritos, prank calls and alien abduction? They lost that snot-nose spirit long ago.
Consider that Barker nearly died in a fiery 2008 private-jet crash that claimed the lives of four other people onboard. DeLonge battled back from skin cancer in 2010. And nearly three years ago, Hoppus moved to Europe.
For its November shows, the band turned away from its earliest material and spotlighted its underrated masterwork: the 2003 untitled album commonly known as Blink-182. The plan was to play it front-to-back for the first time at the Palladium, including six songs Blink had never performed live before an audience.
“That’s by far my favourite album we did,” said Barker, taking a break from pounding his practice pads in an upstairs dressing room. “It was groundbreaking for us.”
Upon its release a decade ago thismonth, the self-titled CD arrived as a great leap forward for Blink. It drew in posthard-core rock influences from DeLonge and Barker’s critically hailed side band Boxcar Racer, and ultimately divided fans and startled critics.
While selling more than 2.2 million copies and spawning a No.1 hit (on the Billboard alternative chart) with the melancholy power ballad I Miss You, the