I was disappointed when Blink 182 were forced to cancel their handful of U.S. tour dates last summer, as I had planned on attending the Connecticut stop, but, as the band once sang, "Good things come to those who wait." Amidst their Riot Fest appearances, Blink rescheduled their stop at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, CT for September 8th of this year. To make the wait even more worthwhile, they brought Taking Back Sunday, Four Year Strong and New Beat Fund with them.
Blink 182 has now been a band for 21 years - longer than a good portion of their fanbase has been alive - but their live show has not missed a beat over the years. Their setlist hasn't changed much from that of their stint on 2011's Honda Civic Tour, but the song selection delivers the hits for which they're known and showcases new material (two tracks from Dogs Eating Dogs and five from Neighborhoods) while incorporating a few fan favorites ("Dumpweed," "Carousel").
Vocalists Tom DeLonge and Mark Hoppus didn't indulge in as much stage banter as their typically known for, but they were entertaining nonetheless. At the request of an audience member, Hoppus even gave drummer Travis Barker the microphone to say a rare "What's up?" to the crowd. The trio dropped Barkers' drum solo for this tour, previously a set staple, but he showed off his impressive skills during some intros, interludes and fills. The lack of a solo also meant no acoustic song from the band, which they had been doing on their most recent European tour. The set ended 10 minutes short of the 90-minute mark, so I'd love to see them work in a deep cut or two next time around.
It has been an exciting few years for Taking Back Sunday. The original line-up reunited in 2010, put out a new album in 2011, celebrated the 10th anniversary of Tell All Your Friends 10th last year and recorded their new album this year. They seem reinvigorated, while maintaining the aspects their fans love about them.
The way vocalist Adam Lazzara commands the audience's attention reminds me more and more of an archetypal frontman each time I see the band. With his hair growing longer, his locks now flow as freely as his microphone as he dances around the stage. The band didn't preview any new material, but the one-two-three punch of "You're So Last Summer," "Cute Without the 'E'" and "MakeDamnSure" was a perfect ending.
Things in the Four Year Strong camp have been dormant for quite a while, so it was a pleasure to see them again. Unfortunately, the venue's sound system wasn't equipped for heavier music. The drums, in particular, suffered; the snare was significantly louder than everything else, while the double bass was muddled. The band persevered, delivering a solid 25-minute set. Only about half of the crowd knew who they were, but they made themselves known.
Although their live show hasn't been quite the same since keyboardist Josh Lyford left the band, there isn't much to complain about Four Year Strong's performance. The setlist was composed almost entirely of favorites from Rise or Die Trying and Enemy of the World, with the exception of "Stuck in the Middle." The sing along of "Wasting Time (Eternal Summer)" was a great conclusion to their set.
Fresh off a stint on this summer's Warped Tour, New Beat Fund opened the show. It's apparent that the quartet's groove-heavy rock was greatly influenced by fellow Californian band Sublime. In fact, they covered "Caress Me Down," which the segued into a rendition of the Misfits' "Last Caress" and then back to Sublime; likely the only time those two bands have been mentioned in the same breath.
Frontman Jeff Laliberte confessed to the audience that it was probably the biggest arena in which the group has ever performed. When he asked crowd, "Who here has heard us?" the question was met with little response. But when he followed it up with, "Who here likes to smoke weed?" there was a much more vivacious reaction. They were outliers on this pop punk bill, but the band will be hitting the road with 3OH!3 next month, where they ought to receive a warmer reception.
It's a shame, for fans' sake, that this isn't a longer tour, as the strong line-up fits well together, but I'm happy to have been able to see it. Here's to hoping we don't have to wait another two years before Blink 182 tours the country again, because they remain one of the most fun live shows.