One of the most anticipated concerts to come to The Pavilion at Montage Mountain in Scranton this season was the return of Blink-182, on tour with A Day to Remember and All Time Low after a hiatus and split with founding vocalist/guitarist Tom DeLonge. Many longtime fans, including myself, were there on Thursday, Aug. 25 not just to enjoy their classic pop punk hits, but to see if Matt Skiba from Alkaline Trio could really replace DeLonge at the helm.
All Time Low was the first band up of the night. While I’m not too familiar with their music, I must say that they put on quite the show. They sounded great and had a constant flow of energy. Even though people don’t typically expect much from the first opener, ATL truly did deliver.
At 8:15 p.m., the lights went down and it was time for A Day to Remember to do their thing, and they did just that and more. Opening with “The Downfall of Us All,” they hit the stage with a flurry of oversized beach balls. There must have been 50 giant balls projected from the stage into the crowd, which continued to be tossed around throughout the show.
To say that I was blown away by ADTR’s performance would probably be an understatement. The energy, stage presence, and overall tightness of this band is something most acts lack today. The stage setup was also great, filled with analog TVs and recording equipment from the ‘50s. When ADTR stormed into their current single, “Paranoia,” the crowd lost it; everyone on the floor was on their feet, screaming every word of the song, all while their entire road crew, as well as Blink drummer Travis Barker’s son, threw hundreds of rolls of toilet paper into the crowd. Yep, we got TP’d, and it was awesome.
Closing their set out with “The Plot to Bomb the Panhandle,” streamers shot from cannons on the stage and covered practically everyone in the pit. ADTR certainly gets an A+ for their live performance in my book.
I knew after such an incredible set that Blink-182 would have a tough time following ADTR’s performance and, unfortunately, I was right. At 9:30 p.m., Blink-182 took the stage, opening with their hit “Feeling This” from their 2003 self-titled album. A flaming “FUCK” banner hung over the crowd, which should have been my first indication that Blink-182 was relying too much on their past. They followed up with “What’s My Age Again,” “Family Reunion,” and “The Rock Show,” which all sounded great because bassist/vocalist Mark Hoppus sang them.
Once it came time for Skiba to take the reins and sing DeLonge’s songs, he did not deliver – he faceplanted. He sang lead vocals for the next four songs, and it was quite painful and unenthusiastic, to say the least. His first attempt was the mega hit “First Date,” and saying he sounded awful would be giving him too much credit. He stood there looking like he did not want to be there, nor did he belong on that stage with Hoppus and Barker. And it got worse from there with songs like “Down” and “I Miss You,” which sent many for the gates. Yes, that’s right – people actually started leaving. Next up was their current single, “Bored to Death,” which aptly described how I felt during their 24-song set.
I will say that Travis Barker is still their entire show. It doesn’t get old or stale watching him play with such great passion but, I must admit, he is the only thing this new version of Blink-182 has going for it. It seemed like nothing more than a glorified cover band the entire night. I am not one to ever sit during a concert, especially when it is – I’m sorry, was – one of my favorite bands, but nothing was happening on that stage to make me emotionally invested in this band anymore, as it was more than clear that there is no Blink-182 without DeLonge. If it wasn’t for me wanting to hear “Dammit” one last time, I would have left midway through their lackluster set.
Blink-182 was always known for their hilarious dick and fart jokes during live shows, and it’s just no longer there. Hoppus would attempt to crack a few here and there, just to have awkward rebuttals from Skiba. The high point of the concert for me was the end when Landon Barker, the son of Travis, came out and did a drum solo and played along with Mark and Matt to the Ramones song “Blitzkrieg Bop.”
When the house lights came on, I realized that my childhood was over. This was not the Blink-182 I grew up with that walked me through my first date, my first keg party, the first time I skipped school, or the first time I saw them 15 years earlier at that same venue.
This was ADTR’s show 100 percent, while Blink was basically the music to listen to while walking back to your car in the parking lot. To quote a line from “Dammit,” “well, I guess this is growing up.”
by Corey Kime
Corey Kime graduated from Lackawanna College with a degree in communications and has played bass in local bands like ASHFALL.