Blink-182: In love, and spitting bile
It might have been just another rote evening of late night TV talk show programming. But a funny thing happened at a taping of "Jimmy Kimmel Live!" in Hollywood on Tuesday. Blink-182 showed up to play a couple of songs -- an effort to drum up attention for the multi-platinum-selling pop-punk trio's North American stadium tour, which kicks off July 24 in Las Vegas.
And suddenly, a full-blown rock concert broke out.
In just their fourth public performance after a five-year "hiatus" as a group, guitarist-singer Tom DeLonge, bassist-singer Mark Hoppus and drummer Travis Barker performed energetic run-throughs of two of Blink's biggest Warped Tour hits, "What's My Age Again?" and "Dammit" for Kimmel's cameras. Then, glancing at each other from across the stage with barely contained class clown glee, they decided they were having too much fun to leave.
You'd never have guessed that only a year ago the band mates hadn't recaptured that lovin' feeling toward each other, and a detente -- let alone a Blink-182 reunion -- seemed hopelessly out of reach. (An upcoming story in The Times will shed more light on what brought them back together.)
"I love you. Travis," Hoppus drawled into the mike between songs, prompting DeLonge to elucidate for the crowd: "It's a physical thing."
"And I love you, Tom DeLonge," Hoppus continued, just before the trio launched into their single "Down."
With Fall Out Boy's Pete Wentz and wife Ashlee Simpson looking on from backstage, and flanked by a gaggle of the group's preteen children sitting on an overstuffed sofa, Blink performed eight songs (not including an off-the-cuff improv cover of the Beastie Boys' "High Plains Drifter") over the course of an hour. Among them: "Feeling This," "Dumpweed," "Reckless Abandon" and "Josie (Everything's Gonna Be Fine)."
"We haven't performed some of these songs in seven years," DeLonge said. "Expect us to screw them up!"
It was in part a reward for fans who had been waiting five hours to see Blink; dozens were led up to a viewing area on the rooftop of a nearby building, where they screamed wildly. Hundreds of others hung out in alleys surrounding the concert area, taking in the jocular, snotty tunage even though they had been unable to secure tickets.
But moreover, with all of Hoppus and DeLonge's crude sexual double-entendres and frat boy repartee -- par for the course for a group that never met a fart joke it didn't love -- the mini-concert seemed more like a declaration of purpose than a tour warm-up. The implicit message was that Blink-182 is back and as solid as ever -- that its tour isn't going to be some kind of halfhearted, profit-driven road slog even if it is one of Blink's biggest paydays to date. (At least, that's what they said during our interview. But again, we get ahead of ourselves.)
When the performance was nearly finished, Hoppus exhorted the crowd that it had seen history in the making: "Just think, when you get home, you can say, 'I saw Blink-182 make complete asses out of themselves on national television!' "
DeLonge blew a raspberry and Barker spit a loogie. And with that, it was over.
-- Chris Lee
Photo: ABC / Michael Desmond