Blink-182 are big enough to rock the Barclays Center, but swinging through Brooklyn last night, they had something else in mind. The Music Hall of Williamsburg is usually reserved for buzz bands, established indie acts, and nostalgia tours, but Blink-182 was never one to play by the typical rock rules — last night they nearly tore the place down with a intimate, frenzied performance for a tightly packed room of diehard fans.
After 2011’s “Neighborhoods” failed to reignite their Hot 100 heyday, a lesser band might have fallen into that dreaded nostalgia act territory. But Blink-182 are too self-aware, too open about what they’re trying to accomplish to succumb to that fate. Their Music Hall performance wasn’t a stroll down memory lane; it was a full-fledged rock show played to rabid Blink fans, mostly 20-somethings, but ones who moshed, crowd surfed, and shouted along the lyrics like they had just popped 1997’s “Dude Ranch” into their Walkmans.
The early stages of the show were a mix of essentials from before their 2005 hiatus (“Feeling This” opened the set in frenzied fashion) and highlights from their major label swan song (2011’s “Neighborhoods”) and last year’s underrated self-released EP, “Dogs Eating Dogs.” Plenty of power trios tack on touring musicians when they’ve reached this level of success, but for Blink, it’s still about the Mark, Tom, and Travis show. Even songs with more of a studio treatment — like their 2003 hit “I Miss You” — felt fleshed out and full with Travis Barker’s breakneck virtuoso drumming and the crowd’s constant sing along effectively serving as additional instruments.
Watch Blink-182 perform “Man Overboard” at the show:
Two-and-a-half-minute bangers bled seamlessly together, with bits of Mark and Tom’s classic onstage banter (yes, there was a masturbation joke) filling the tiny gaps. Time and time again, the band asserted (both directly and indirectly) they were playing a special show and as usual, their sincerity was irrefutable. Mark freestyled the chorus of Kelis’ “Milkshake” during the final measures of “Ghost on the Dancefloor” and promised the following night’s Pennsylvania crowd wouldn’t be getting the same treat.
For the majority of the crowd, the biggest treats came at the set’s grand finale, as Blink followed up “All the Small Things” with a string of sentimental favorites from their early, pre-“Enema of the State” days. “Josie,” “Carousel,” and “Dammit” brought out the night’s loudest ovation, and even though it didn’t happen, a second or even third encore would have been gladly accepted.
Even the night’s opening acts set the perfect mood for Blink-182 in 2013. There were Brooklyn indie rockers DIIV (Mark Hoppus is a vocal fan of their blissful modernized shoegaze) capturing the present and So Cal self-proclaimed G-punk rabble rousers New Beat Fund who embodied Blink’s eternal adolescence. And to add to the feel good vibes, the gig was done entirely for charity, with the anniversary of 9/11 and Travis Barker’s 2008 plane crash in mind; all with proceeds went towards New York’s William Randolph Hearst Burn Center and Los Angeles’ City of Hope disease research center.
On an uncharacteristically warm night in mid-September, the sweaty rawk show encapsulated the sort of packed club show Blink fans might have fantasized about in the early 90s but never actually seen. Blink-182 are on tour for the rest of the month, playing festivals and larger gigs (some closer to home in Southern California), though their Brooklyn gig was undoubtedly a rare spectacle.
Here’s the set list from Blink-182’s performance:
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