blink-182 storms Toronto

[Photographer Alex Lupul was dispatched to the Budweiser Stage on Sunday to cover blink-182. Here’s what he had to say about the gig. -AC]

With over 15-million copies sold worldwide, blink-182’s “Enema of the State” stands as one of the band’s greatest commercial and critical successes. Now 20-years on since the 1999 release of the band’s seminal pop-punk album, the Southern California trio announced a string of Summer tour dates where they will be performing the album in its entirety.

The band’s staying power was quickly evident upon arrival at Budweiser Stage, once catching a glimpse of the sea of blink-182 fans present. While the turnout may not be particularly surprising, it’s worth noting who was in attendance. Fans young and old made up the crowd of 16,000, proof of the band’s continued impact with those who’ve followed the group for decades as well as their ability to continually find a new audience, now 27-years after blink-182’s formation.

Aside from the setlist comprised of “Enema of the State” tracks and other fan favourites, blink-182 had several other surprises in store for the sellout crowd gathered at the outdoor venue.

“This show is so insane,” exclaimed bassist/vocalist Mark Hoppus, in a promotional video for the upcoming tour. “I think we’re bringing out 17 semis full of equipment, set pieces, lights, pyro and all kinds of stuff so it’s going to be a really cool tour.”

The theatrics that Hoppus described in the promotional video were quickly realized once blink-182 took to the stage, surrounded by a towering wall of LED speaker cabinets and veiled by plumes of smoke. It seemed as if the band were hiding the larger set pieces that would later arrive in their set.

Fans made little use of the seats that they paid for; once guitarist/vocalist Matt Skiba began to play the opening notes of the “Enema of the State” opener “Dumpweed” the entire crowd were on their feet and remained there the rest of the night.

During the percussively-driven track “Aliens Exist” inflatable green extraterrestrials were seen bouncing over the top of the crowd among the ticket-holding crowd surfers being carried towards the edge of the stage.

After burning through the 35-minutes of music which comprises “Enema of the State’s” 12-tracks, Hoppus and Skiba left the stage to perform acoustic versions of “Down” and “Wasting Time,” from their “Self-Titled” and “Cheshire Cat” records respectively, amongst the crowd. In doing so, the duo turned the 16,000-capacity amphitheatre into an intimate acoustic open-mic night.

Ultimately, Hoppus and Skiba’s decision to leave the stage served as a bit of misdirection. While concert-goers were focused on the acoustic performance, the wall of on-stage speakers parted, revealing a metal gyroscope which looked more at home at a circus than at a rock concert.

The group’s tattoo covered percussionist Travis Barker—never one to make drumming easier on himself—strapped himself into his drum kit and delivered an extended drum solo while the gyroscope flipped and spun him in all directions. Impressing the crowd with both his drumming skills and his strong stomach.

After a short break the band returned with a fiery conclusion to the evening, complete with pyro-infused renditions of new material including “Bored to Death,” off of the band’s Grammy-nominated album “California,” and “Blame It on My Youth” the lead single for the group’s upcoming album, alongside fan favourites like “First Date” before closing out the night with “Dammit” from 1997’s “Dude Ranch.”

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

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