A/N: The title is long, the title sounds misleading. It’s not.
I figured I’d put this story in the “I Bought Tickets…” series despite the fact that- as you can tell by the title, I very much did not buy tickets to this show. Still, I think it fits in perfectly with the theme of the series because this story is all about how music moves people and some how some artists can take you on an undeniably unexpected adventure.
I like Blink-182. I really do. I’ve always found something irresistible about their messy, youthful, pop-punk sound. I’m not sure why. Maybe it’s the fact that we’re both from the quiet suburbs of Poway. When I was 16 years old, sitting in the Sombrero’s restaurant mentioned in “Josie”, eating my California burrito and being mad at my mom, or when I was slumped over my desk at school, getting a D in trigonometry with the same teacher that once flunked Tom DeLonge, I found solace knowing that Blink had gone through the same stuff in the same place. Their suburban nostalgia made their rebellious “I hate this town, I’m an aimless adolescent” pop punk all the more relatable. Because I also hated that town. I was also an aimless adolescent.
Fast forwarding through years of my teen drama, I saw Blink for the first time last year at Weenie Roast, and their performance just reinforced how much I like them. Ever since that concert, I’ve tried to see them live whenever they’re in town. Sometimes that doesn’t turn out to be logistically possible, but when I found out they were headlining Back To The Beach Fest at Huntington, 20 minutes away from my apartment, I know I could not let my broke college student-ness stop me from going to this show.
As a result, I tried some… interesting ways to get to the fest for free- the stories of which I then shared with the internet, who made me kinda go viral (I have no regrets. Tinder sucks anyways.). Turns out my persistence and quick wit paid off, as Blink-182 frontman Mark Hoppus found my tweets and reached out, guestlisting me to the festival and granting me insane bragging rights among the pop punk community.
A few days later, April 27th, around 5 p.m., I roll up with my +1 and saunter over to the VIP entrance. Feeling invincible, we get our wristbands and take it all in. We hear Reel Big Fish playing their Orange County ska punk as we trudge through the venue, a large fenced off area of Huntington State Beach. It was sold out and jam-packed with vendors and fans of every age, so I had to be careful not to step on anyone’s toes, beach blanket, or 6-year-old. However, I didn’t mind, because I was just happy to be there. Tracking sand surrounded by California strangers drinking beer, singing, and having the absolute best time was a very appropriate setting for the theme of the festival. While waiting for Blink to come on, we shuffled back and forth between backstage and the GA area, observing the people who made up the sold-out crowd of 20,000. There was a lot of age, race, and gender diversity. I saw everyone from kindergarteners to grandmas to semi-famous actors and musicians like Tyler Posey and Vic Fuentes in the VIP section. The audience seemed representative of the local culture the fest tried to represent. Also, worth noting (probably because Blink were headlining), the majority of people seemed to be there for them. I definitely saw more than my fair share of Blink-182 tattoos and girls dressed as the iconic nurse from their their Enema Of The State album cover.
When the clock struck 7:40 p.m., the stage lit up, and everyone screamed. The band walked out on stage. Travis Barker banged on the drums to kickstart their set with “Dumpweed”, as guitarist Matt Skiba and Hoppus skipped to opposite sides of the stage, getting the crowd hyped. They played a standard headline festival timeslot, an hour full of 2-3 minute songs, but this performance was anything but typical. Blink-182 is always high energy, and Hoppus is extremely enthusiastic and engaging with the fans (as proven by my very attendance at this show, but he also stepped it up for Beach Fest, addressing specific audience members and even pulling up excited kids and girls dressed up as the Enema nurse to watch sidestage). This energy went way up three songs in. When the band started playing “Aliens Exist” for the first time since 2001, everyone connected the dots. Hoppus wasn’t kidding when he tweeted about this in March, Blink was playing a full Enema Of The State tribute set for the album’s 20th anniversary. The audience reacted to this with loud singing, dancing, crowdsurfing, and “mosh pits” that had a lot of effort and heart behind them, despite being kind of lame (only made up of like six people and broken up by security half a minute after they began).
However, the best part of the show (the best part of any Blink show, in my opinion), was “All The Small Things”. Rivaled only by “I Miss You”, this is arguably the quintessential Blink-182 song. If you’ve ever heard of this band, then you’ve definitely heard Tom Delonge’s unmistakable California vowel shift singing all the words to this track. A pop punk love story over a simple melody with lots of guitar riffs and na na na’s (Delonge’s homage to his punk idols, The Ramones), “All The Small Things” has become an iconic song of the early 2000s. It’s fun to play, fun to sing, and makes for one of the best feelings in the world: being in a crowd of disgruntled millennials screaming “WORK SUCKS- I KNOW”.
After the encore had been played, the picks and drumsticks had been tossed to the crowd, and I got to catch a glimpse of Hoppus and Barker leaving backstage, I finally had a moment to catch my breath (stolen from singing along to the 17 song set) and realize what had just happened.
Mark Hoppus had really guestlisted me to The Rock Show. A sold out Enema Of The State anniversary show. A Tinder ban, a viral tweet, and one frontman’s kindness (and appreciation for the meme) had given me one of the most awesome nights of my life. And afterwards, when I was sitting on a Huntington Beach sidewalk curb in the dark, emptying the sand out of my white Vans, it hit me. I realized why. I like Blink-182 so much because they will always make me feel young and carefree again. Whether I’m 16 or pushing 20, I can forget about all the small things in “All The Small Things”, and that’s what makes their so-called crappy punk rock so timeless.
So, thanks, Mark Hoppus. See you next time.