Live Review: Blink-182, My Chemical Romance in West Palm Beach, FL (9/23)

Obnoxious heat and one blazing, pestering sun couldn’t stop the mini-pop rock festival that is the “Honda Civic Tour” from coming to West Palm Beach, FL. Still a ways out, and a pain in the ass in terms of location, the Cruzan Amphitheater housed thousands of fans, all hungry to see Matt & Kim, My Chemical Romance, and one reunited (and reinvigorated) Blink-182.

Without a moment’s notice, Brooklyn’s own Matt & Kim hit the stage in signature fashion, which is to say: “Cue the anthemic music. Place wild grin on Kim behind drum set. Deep focus on Matt as he stands on his piano chair with his arms wide-open to the crowd. Toss balloons out. Enter Kim into audience. Close with ‘Daylight’. Extinguish sun.”

Photo by Phillip Roffman

What’s upsetting about Matt and Kim’s performance was how un-upsetting it was (and always seems to be).There’s never a crack in their perfectly orchestrated production, which can be both good and bad. The Brooklyn duo is undoubtedly the underdog of this tour, set amidst juggernaut acts like My Chemical Romance and Blink-182, so it makes sense that they wouldn’t tweak something that’s admittedly not broken. But, for fans of the group, the shtick has grown tiresome and highly predictable. Regardless, it’s always fun to hear “Cameras”, “Yea Yeah”, and “Block After Block”, and, true to their foresight, the newcomers dug it, although the party hardly reached the lawn area.

Next up was Gerard Way’s post-hardcore extravaganza. Prior to any music hitting the stage from My Chemical Romance, an Asian woman appeared on screens, repeating phrases again and again, the whole thing mirroring those videos from Lost‘s Dharma Initiative. The band hit the stage soon after. Leaving behind the Sephora merch and Gothic Sgt. Pepper’s fashion of yesteryear, the New Jersey rockers instead came out looking like garage punk heroes, shattering any prior assumptions.

Photo by Phillip Roffman

Still in support of last year’s Danger Days: The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys, My Chemical Romance performed a variety of hits off the effort, including set opener (and the irritably titled) “Na Na Na (Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na)” and “Planetary (Go!)”. Throughout the performance, however, Way appeared beleaguered and out of breath as he stomped back and forth on stage, leaving guitarist Frank Iero to fill in the gaps on hits “I’m Not Ok (I Promise)” and “Helena”. Although the songs sounded sharp enough altogether, the showmanship did lack some finesse, though perhaps Way was just having a rough night.

Finally, Southern California’s foul-mouthed trio Blink-182 hit the stage. To say that the audience lost their shit would be the understatement of the year. This was an audience hungry for their high school days, yearning for dick and fart jokes and the moment they first heard 1997’s Dude Ranch (or 1999’s Enema of the State). They didn’t let up, and, although Mark Hoppus, Tom DeLonge, and Travis Barker weren’t sporting their early 2000 trend of Dickies and skate shoes, or even their backwards trucker hats, it still felt like nothing had changed. This is the new Blink-182, back with a slightly new image.

Photo by Lauren Guagno

“Feeling This”, a highlight from their 2003 self-titled album, started off the night, soon followed by new single “Up All Night” off of their new LP, Neighborhoods. The former had every soul in the audience singing their heart out, while the latter left plenty in limbo. A few dedicated fans sang aloud. “Son of a bitch, Miami,” DeLonge screamed out. “Hey, ladies, want a song?” Hoppus looked around, grinning wildly.

Yep, nothing’s changed. The semantics continued like this throughout the night. Whether it was DeLonge’s fixation with his own dick, Hoppus’s consistent banter with the audience, or wordplay with DeLonge, it all felt wholly fitting. At one point, Hoppus focused on nearby signs, reading them one by one: “Freebird?”, “We love you!”, “Tom, I’m pregnant!” So, apparently the fans have yet to grow up, too.

Photo by Lauren Guagno

Although the subject material of the group’s music has matured, DeLonge and Hoppus won’t ever miss an opportunity to ache those sides of yours. For instance, after gunning through more meditative songs like “Down” or “I Miss You”, DeLonge screamed out, “It feels like Satan is jacking off on me. It’s so fucking hot!” Naturally, that was the segue into highly reflective track “Stay Together for the Kids”. Remember always, there are two sides to everyone. Write that down.

The second half of the set focused on the more poppy, sunnier aspects of the band. “First Date” had crowds bouncing, “Fuck a Dog”  and “Happy Holidays, You Bastard” rounded up a campfire sing-along (only with moshing), and oft-forgotten cut “Man Overboard” sent many to the shoulders of their nearby accommodating boyfriends. New track “Ghost on the Dance Floor” was well-received, but given that hardly anyone’s heard the new album yet – it’s out September 27th, after all – nobody could really sing along. That wasn’t the case for the two-hit punch of “Josie” into “All the Small Things”, which closed out the initial set.

Photo by Lauren Guagno

Similar to Green Day, there are aspects of a Blink-182 show that are a given. Since drummer Travis Barker is hands down the most musically proficient member of the group, it makes sense that he always takes a drum solo, which he took this time on “Give the Drummer Some”. Again, it’s expected, but it’s still a spectacle to unassuming fans. But that was not nearly as dazzling as the now three-hit sucker punch of “Carousel”, “Dammit”, and “Family Reunion”. Fans arrived at Cruzan looking for some high-quality pop punk, and they left with this stuck in their head: “Shit, piss, fuck, cunt, cocksucker, motherfucker, tits, fart, turd, and twat.” What more could you ask for?

Photography by Phillip Roffman and Lauren Guagno.

Blink-182 Setlist:
Feeling This
Up All Night
The Rock Show
What’s My Age Again?
I Miss You
Stay Together for the Kids
After Midnight
First Date
Fuck a Dog
Heart’s All Gone
Happy Holidays, You Bastard
Man Overboard
Ghost on the Dancefloor
All the Small Things
Flying Drum Solo / Give the Drummer Some
Family Reunion

Gallery by Phillip Roffman and Lauren Guagno

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