PNC Bank Arts Center, a large venue anchored by a seven-thousand person seated amphitheater, hosted the North Jersey stop of Blink-182’s reunion tour, featuring support from Weezer, Taking Back Sunday, and Chester French. On a cool August night in Holmdel, New Jersey, Blink-182 captured an enormous crowd with their well-written blend of radio-ready punk-pop and colorful stage banter.
Catching Taking Back Sunday‘s final moments, it was evident that the band just wasn’t built for the 17,000-capacity amphitheater/lawn setup. Sonically, the band’s songs were thin; vocalist Adam Lazarra sounded weak, and the band just didn’t hold together. Song selection was another issue, as the band’s ten song setlist unfortunately consisted of seven songs from New Again and Louder Now, arguably their weakest efforts. The full setlist:
What’s It Feel Like to be a Ghost?
Sink Into Me
Set Phasers to Stun
Where My Mouth Is
Liar (It Takes One to Know One)
Cute Without the ‘E’ (Cut From the Team)
A Decade Under the Influence
Weezer opened with a brief cover of Black Sabbath’s 1978 favorite, “War Pigs”, and with a quick Pat Wilson drum fill, the band switched gears into 2001’s “Hash Pipe”, rolling through their collection of hit singles for the next hour. Rivers Cuomo–Weezer’s frontman with awkward mannerisms and quirky behavior (likened to that of Rick Moranis’s chracter in Ghostbusters)–talked through the interludes of “Undone (Sweater Song)”, capturing the song’s original feel but adding a unique live twist to the experience.
The hedonistic “Surf Wax America” was excellent, and Raditude lead single “If You’re Wondering If I Want You To (I Want You To)” was an exciting tease of what Weezer’s next album might sound like. The one-two punch of 1994 hits “Say it Ain’t So” and “My Name is Jonas” was incredible; the former’s hair-lifting guitar solo was one of the night’s early highlights.
For “Island in the Sun” Cuomo played each of the song’s instruments, jumping from percussion to guitars, recording loops for the drums, acoustic guitar, and bass. When the loops were finished, he picked up an electric guitar and played the song’s signature chords with the crowd singing the “hip-hip” backing vocals. Cuomo played the first two verses alone before the rest of the band joined for the chorus; the entire performance was not only clever and entertaining but also very tight.
Pinkerton was represented by “The Good Life” before the band kicked into “Pork and Beans”, a strong cut from the band’s latest album. The cheeky, yet soaring, “Beverly Hills” had the whole crowd swooning with its tremendous chorus. “Buddy Holly” was the band’s last original song before a solid cover of The Clash’s “Should I Stay or Should I Go?” finished the set.
The setlist was heavy on their self-titled 1994 debut, undoubtedly their most well-written and purest effort:
War Pigs (Black Sabbath cover)
Undone (Sweater Song)
If You’re Wondering If I Want You To (I Want You To)
Say it Aint’ So
My Name is Jonas
Island in the Sun
The Good Life
Pork and Beans
Should I Stay or Should I Go? (The Clash cover)
Cuomo, though unassuming and small in stature, proved that Weezer is large and in charge, one of the generation’s top rock acts. Even bookended by two covers, the band’s set was an excellent document of Weezer”s entire career and indeed a testament to the band’s stellar live show.
After an incredible performance by Weezer, the recently reunited Blink-182 had their work cut out for them. Their first tour in nearly five years, it remained to be seen if the trio was up to the challenge. Opening with Enema of the State leadoff “Dumpweed”, Blink-182 appeared more than ready to overtake Weezer and spent the next eighty minutes demonstrating that fact.
With a dual vocal assault, “Feeling This” perfectly showcased the dynamics of frontmen Tom DeLonge and Mark Hoppus. “The Rock Show”, an adolescent love story about meeting a girl at Warped Tour, was one of the band’s strongest songs. By “What’s My Age Again” the entire sold-out venue was singing in unison to one of biggest songs of the 1990s.
The heavier “Violence” and the bouncy yet somber “I Miss You” felt right at home alongside the band’s older songs. In fact, a third of the setlist came from the band’s untitled 2003 album, with three of the seven songs coming in a row (“Down”, Always”, “Stockholm Syndrome”). With Hoppus’s solid bass-line into a twangy DeLonge guitar-riff, “Man Overboard” was fun and exciting. Things slowed down with “Adam’s Song” before picking up with “All the Small Things” and “Reckless Abandon”. The appropriately titled “Anthem Pt. 2” finished up the band’s set with DeLonge proclaiming “If we’re fucked up, then you’re to blame!” before the trio left the stage.
Drummer Travis Barker was the first to return for an encore, jamming over a Jay-Z track before his drum platform lifted into the air, slowly spiraling around the stage. The impressive drum solo set the mood for DeLonge and Hoppus to return, at which point the band began fan-favorite “Carousel”. The band finished with a rousing performance of Dude Ranch‘s “Dammit”. The full set:
The Rock Show
What’s My Age Again?
I Miss You
Stay Together for the Kids
Don’t Leave Me
All the Small Things
Josie (Everything’s Gonna Be Fine)
Anthem Pt. 2
The Mark, Tom, and Travis show was excellent, from the strong performance to the hilarious on-stage banter. It’s apparent that even in their late thirties, the aging punk-pop trio still finds toilet humor and sexual puns as funny as ever–and somehow it works. DeLonge has always provided the main comedic assault, but Hoppus was equally witty yet still managed to keep the show moving during Delonge’s drawn about stories and jokes about “your mom”.
The tour continues through the country, with alternating support from a number of bands including Fall Out Boy, Panic at the Disco, Motion City Soundtrack, Valencia, and All-American Rejects.
Photos courtesy of Gabreez, Weezer.com
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