When blink-182 announced a short acoustic set in Kingston’s Rose Theatre to celebrate the upcoming release of new album California next month, tickets sold out in two minutes flat. This led the lovely people of Banquet Records to announce a second show earlier the same evening, and we somehow found ourselves as one of the few lucky attendees.
As the queue for ticket collection snaked around the streets of Kingston, it seemed impossible that this many people could squeeze into the tiny, intimate venue we were promised. As people lined the pavements- from old-school, long-time fans in Dude Ranch t-shirts to excited teenagers finally be clutching their first ever blink-182 tickets- the love for this stupid-as-hell pop-punk trio was still strong.
The past year or so has been one of the most turbulent and controversial in the band’s history, seeing the departure of beloved original member Tom DeLonge and the messy, school playground fall-out that sadly followed between himself and remaining members Mark Hoppus and Travis Barker. Shortly after, a new recruit entered the blink-182 camp in the form of Alkaline Trio frontman and punk veteran Matt Skiba. While the move sparked some backlash, the general consensus was along the lines of: “Hey, if you’re going to replace Tom DeLonge with anyone, it might as well be someone as awesome as Matt Skiba!”
The three tiers of this pocket-sized theatre- including downstairs standing, upstairs seating and an upper tier- soon filled up and, thankfully, the band didn’t keep us waiting for too long (probably because another line of eager fans had already began outside for tonight’s second performance). The atmosphere was unusual, especially for a blink-182 show; people waiting demurely in their seats, sipping overpriced alcoholic beverages and chatting quietly about their days at work was a world away from the riotous jostling and boozy antics we’d usually expect. But this is a new band, a new gig, a new album and, to be honest, no-one really knew what to expect.
And, when they appeared on stage, that feeling of uncertainty had never been more apparent.
It took us all a minute to process that who we saw standing before us in that moment was not the same band we’d held in our minds for the past twenty years; “We’re here to see blink-182, and this is NOT blink-182. They’re holding acoustic guitars, Travis is missing, and who the HELL is this guy in a flat-cap?!” we silently screamed.
But with a boyish grin from Hoppus, a humble wave from Skiba and the line, “Hi, we’re blink-182- well, most of it, at least,” any confusion disappear, replaced with overwhelming adoration and an unshakable sense of gratitude, just because we’re lucky enough to be here, in this room, sharing this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity with only a handful of others. When they launch into ‘Rock Show’, any last hint of hesitation towards this new formation is well and truly gone.
They rattle through a short but satisfying set, playing a bunch of crowd-pleasers in ways that, until now, no-one outside the band’s closest circles have heard before. We are the guinea pigs, especially when anthems such as ‘What’s My Age Again?’ and ‘Josie’ are left with nothing but vocals and an acoustic melody; or when songs that, in the past, saw a primarily Tom vocal (‘All The Small Things’ and ‘Down’) were debuted with Matt Skiba leading the charge. While both take a little getting used to, it’s refreshing to hear the classics reinvented and for such a strong, solid vocalist to take on the role.
The duo exit the stage to a standing ovation, leaving behind a pretty pleased audience. As a crowd, we began this evening not really sure what was going to happen, or how we were going to feel about it. But the end result surpassed expectation, with a performance that can’t be faulted. In the end, tonight wasn’t about a missing ingredient; it was a whole new recipe.
Don’t just take our word for it – check out our video clip from the night and let us know what you think!