REVIEW: Blink 182 and All Time Low at Summerfest
On Tuesday night, it officially became the Mark, Skiba and Travis show. Blink 182 brought their new lineup to the Marcus Ampitheater, along with openers All Time Low, and local support Direct Hit!. Although the date was not officially part of the California Tour, the show acted as a precursor of things to come, as well as an ample warm-up for the Blink guys, now featuring Matt Skiba of Alkaline Trio. With a little bit of pressure on the band, they certainly didn’t disappoint.
Any concern over the iteration of Blink 182 that hit the Marcus Ampitheater stage stopped the moment that Mark, Travis and Matt stepped on it, to roars from the large crowd on hand. They calmly took center stage, fist bumped one another, and launched into “Feeling This”, a song that now features Skiba singing most of the lead parts. That theme continued for the night; Mark Hoppus, though still very present, didn’t have to carry any extra heavy lifting for the band at all. This was, in many ways, a not-so-subtle way to show that Matt Skiba was in it for the long haul with Blink 182, and is just as much of the band as Tom Delonge once was.
Blink 182 was quick to show that they were very much the same band without their former guitarist and co-lead singer, too. Right after “Feeling This”, they went into the profanity-laced “Family Reunion”, as featured on live album “The Mark, Tom, and Travis Show” in 2000. 16 years later, the crowd was still enamored, as they later were with “Happy Holidays, You Bastard”, a 42-second song played completely in the dark.
One of the big surprises of the night was that most of the set didn’t feature material from “California”, the album that came out a few weeks ago. In fact, single “Bored To Death” and the 14 second “Built This Pool”, were the only tracks from “California” to make the set list. The majority of the night was built around the classics, with singles spanning from their most popular studio albums, and even a throwback to fan favorite “Carousel”. The irony is, however, that “Bored To Death” was one of the moments where Blink seemed to have the most chemistry on stage. While they played off of one another all night, including Skiba exclaiming “That’s my guy!” when referring to Hoppus, there was still just a little bit of Blink 182 that was rough around the edges, due to this being one of the first shows in the “California” run. For a large part of the night, though, everything clicked as it otherwise would have.
Most of the slip ups came early, which could perhaps be attributed to nerves. Skiba, sporting a Cubs hat (a bold move in Milwaukee) sang the second verse to self-titled album single “Down” twice. It also seemed like there were slight moments where things didn’t gel as well as they could. Miscues here and there didn’t seem to affect the crowd, however, who were excited to see Blink on stage again in any form.
Individually, Blink 182 was still on point. Mark Hoppus sported his usual energy, making frequent visits to the opposite side of the stage from where he normally stands, and even more frequently heading up to the front of the crowd next to Skiba. Travis Barker was phenominal, which has become his calling card over the past decade. Skiba played his role so well that the crowd was chanting his name after a few songs into the set. While the pieces might need to come together just a little better, as pieces, they were fine on their own.
Openers Direct Hit! gave their set everything they had, and All Time Low did a great job of warming the Ampitheater crowd up, as well. It was interesting to note that there wasn’t the overwhelming reception that was expected for All Time Low, but that could be due to the time that the band escalated to pop punk stardom; just a few years after the average Blink 182 fan might’ve been busy Going Away to College. Both bands got the responses that they deserved from the crowd, but it was obvious that Blink 182 were the main attraction.
Tuesday night’s show at the Marcus Ampitheater was the Milwaukee stop of the welcoming party for Matt Skiba into Blink 182, and it will likely be that way for the rest of the tour. Luckily, he’s a very able candidate to replace Tom Delonge, and he’ll only get better as the shows go on. The night was one to remember from start to finish, and while most of the crowd have taken new appreciation to the line “work sucks, I know” from “All the Small Things”, for a night, Blink 182 made everyone feel like giddy, anxious teenagers again in the best way.