By Glenn Alderson
September 18, 2016
ABBOTSFORD — Pop punk started in the suburbs so it makes perfect sense that blink-182’s first appearance in British Columbia following the release of their latest album, California, would bring it right back to where it all started. The Abbotsford Centre is basically the Thunderbird Arena but a significantly further drive from UBC, plus a $14 bridge toll — so not punk.
The bill on this tour was rounded out by The All-American Rejects and A Day To Remember; a really solid pop punk band who know how to execute hardcore breakdowns. And while there were a significant amount of the openers’ tour merch spotted on the backs of confused teens wandering aimlessly around the concourse, it was clear the majority of people were there to see blink-182.
The new lineup of blink-182 can’t be ignored. What they want you to believe is that guitarist Tom DeLonge is out there chasing aliens and government conspiracies, but I’m on to them. After witnessing what was once known as the Mark, Tom and Travis show, I’d have to say this was more like the Mark Hoppus and Travis Barker pop rock nightmare. It’s cool that they tried to replace DeLonge with Alkaline Trio’s Matt Skiba under the guise of “filling in,” but it just doesn’t work. There are some blink-182 songs that just should not be sung without one of the most distinctive voices in pop punk. And when I say “some,” I basically mean all of them.
The band started with “Feeling This,” unveiling the huge flaming “F-U-C-K” lit up behind Barker’s drum kit, a classic stage prop the band has been using for the last 15 years. While Skiba is undoubtedly an integral part of the pop punk family tree and Alkaline Trio are respected members of the Warped Tour alumni, his posture on stage was so rigid and starch-like that it seemed as though he was playing his first show with the band. His definitive voice as the frontman for Alkaltine Trio was also a confusing and compromising replacement in most instances throughout the night when DeLonge’s voice was needed to draw the distinction between a basic pop rock band and the pop punk powerhouse that blink-182 built their name on. Bouncing around in to familiar singles territory with tracks like “What’s My Age Again” and “All The Small Things” almost made the lack of substance forgivable, but definitely not forgettable.
Strongest moments of the band’s set were playing the newest tracks off California, their seventh studio album and first without DeLonge while on his sabbatical in space. The notes of the first single off the new album, “Bored To Death” started just as a fire alarm in the arena was tripped and the band was forced to play with all of the lights on. An awkward moment only made more appropriate when a flood of blowup dolls was unleashed in the audience.
Blink-182 is currently treading dangerous territory. They’re not entirely a nostalgia act but the singles that made the band what they are today no longer represent where they are at or what they’re capable of anymore. Maybe DeLonge is out there writing about aliens, but Hoppus and Barker are the ones with their heads in space if they think they can keep the old Blink ship going for much longer.Abbotsford Centre, BC, Blink-182, British Columbia