Live: blink-182 Like It Hot And Wet At Jones Beach
Better than: A five percent chance of rain.
On the way to Jones Beach last night, leery of the weather that had cut short the final day of Escape To New York some 70 miles east, I checked the evening's forecast. "A 10% chance of rain," I said to my companion. "That's not too bad, right?"
At 9:58 I would recall those words and laugh.
But let's backtrack. Upon making my way inside the first thing I noticed was the t-shirts (and, in a few particularly sweat-inducing instances, hoodies); many in attendance were wearing blink-182 shirts that had either been purchased that night or at some point over the weekend (this was the third of three Honda Civic Tour stops in the New York metropolitan area). I couldn't tell if this outpouring of sartorial support was because of the band's return or because the people wearing those shirts had no subculturally appropriate bands to swap in for the purposes of aligning with a particular scene.
blink-182 have been around since the mid-'90s, but even those people wholly new to the band could have noticed the dynamic between the trio's members from song one; guitarist Tom DeLonge is the goofball making the obvious dick jokes, while bassist Mark Hoppus is more sly, not above referencing matters of the libido to score humor points but serving as the sort of perpetually exasperated older brother to DeLonge. The very tattooed Travis Barker, meanwhile, provides rimshots and blistering drum fills.
blink came to prominence through upbeat arena-punk hybrids like "What's My Age Again?" and "All The Small Things," but their 2003 self-titled album had them turning inward and releasing more expansive, brooding songs with huge low ends and outros that were clearly inspired by lots of late-night listens to Disintegration. (Cure frontman Robert Smith even made a cameo.) "I Miss You" from that record sounded absolutely splendid, opening up into a low-end-heavy, drum-fill-stuffed coda that was made even more haunting by the lights that shot out into the crowd.
It was around this time that the rain started to fall, although at first I wondered if I was just feeling sweat pouring from the people around me who were dancing.
But it quickly (well, at 9:58 p.m.) became clear that yes, this was rain, and yes, it meant business. The downpours continued during the last two-thirds of blink's set and at times they were comical, so intense that I seriously wondered if stagehands hidden in the rafters had been tasked with dumping buckets on the crowd. At one point Hoppus, in an attempt to show solidarity with the audience, took a bottle of water and poured it on himself. "I taste hairspray and disappointment," he told us.
This disappointment was fleeting, though, and the band powered and joked through its set as the assembled whooped and danced and laughed in the rain; perhaps the people in attendance collectively, unconsciously realized that this divinely inspired development had sort of turned the staid Jones Beach Theaterwith its Nikon banners and women dressed like Zippos and "only VIPs can get a beer" policyinto something resembling a super-sweaty VFW hall. (I might have cut out the drum solo, which is no slight on Barker's formidable skill; indeed, his drumming on the band's just-released "Heart's All Gone" takes it to the next level. It was just that the proper songs were a bit easier to splash along to.) The hour went by in a blur, and even though I was more of a casual appreciator of the 2003 album going into the night than a full-on fan, I pogoed and rhythmically wrung out my dress and sang along and appreciated the way the songs that'll appear on blink's forthcoming album Neighborhoods blended classic-modern-rock influences with a bit of pop-punk's speedy flippancy.
Eventually it all came to an end with a run-through of the all-profanity "Family Reunion" that had everyone gleefully shouting swear words while they whipped their wet hair and clothes. Being drenched didn't stop people from begging for one more taste; the venue's curfew, however, took hold, and wouldn't you know it, as we were all sent to the parking lots and forced to examine just what sort of damage our shoes and electronics had been subjected to over the past hour, the rain let up for good.
The Jersey glam-punk outfit My Chemical Romance opened, and their nine-song setlist grabbed most of their catalog's best bitsthe grownup-panic boogie "Teenagers," the larynx-stretching "Helena," the cabaret stomp "Mama." Flame-haired frontman Gerard Way led the crowd in coordinated screaming and clapping as he stalked the stage; it was a pity, though, that the sound wasn't calibrated correctly for the band's six-member setup, resulting in the lead guitar and vocals alternately cutting out.
MCR's set also made me sad that the New York area didn't have a place for them on radio, thanks to the demise of WRXP, which would (maybe?) have at least given their supercharged theatrics a second listen back in its more adventurous daysand no, I don't mean "available to people who know how to find it on the Internet," I mean blasted-from -passing-cars wide, because this sort of forward-thinking distillation of rock's most memorable tropes should be catnip to those people who still like to have their guitars mixed with blasts of high-octane attitude.
Critical bias: I take really long showers.
Overheard: "You know, it only rained for, like, 50 minutes total. Maybe 55."
Random notebook dump: The person who invents waterproof paper is going to be a hero.
Set lists: My Chemical Romance House Of Wolves Give 'Em Hell, Kid Planetary (GO!) Helena The Kids From Yesterday Mama Teenagers I'm Not OK (I Promise) Famous Last Words
blink-182 Feeling This Up All Night The Rock Show What's My Age Again? Down I Miss You Stay Together For The Kids Dumpweed Always Drum solo/Violence [New song] First Date Heart's All Gone Man Overboard Ghost On the Dance Floor All The Small Things Josie -- Drum solo Carousel Dammit Family Reunion
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