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5 Takeaways: Blink-182 thrill at the Xcel

Fresh off the release of their 7th album, California, the lovably bratty pop-punks in Blink-182 launched a world-spanning tour that took them through the Xcel Energy center last night.
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Fresh off the release of their 7th album, California, the lovably bratty pop-punks in Blink-182 launched a world-spanning tour that took them through the Xcel Energy center last night.

Bless you, Matt Skiba

The big question for the show was whether or not the band would suffer greatly from the loss of former guitarist/co-frontman Tom Delonge. While there was definitely a bit of scattered moaning from die-hard Blink fans before the show, you’d have to be a bigger hater than the immortal Silky Johnson to shade new guy Matt Skiba after that set. The fill-in guitarist put years of hard labor into Alkaline Trio while never quite achieving the level of commercial success that his kindred spirits in Blink experienced, and the union seems to be enriching both parties. Hoppus clearly enjoys playing off Skiba’s dramatic vocal flourishes, and the guitarist sounded confident and poised taking on Delonge’s old material, particularly "First Date" and "All the Small Things."

Give the drummer some

Some drummers view their role as one of support, seeking to maximize their bandmates’ talents while diverting attention from their own playing. Travis Barker is emphatically not one of those kind of drummers. Travis Barker is a force of nature, furiously pummeling his way through the band’s hour-and-a-half set with steely-eyed determination. Subtlety and restraint were rendered utterly meaningless in an onslaught of breakneck snare rolls, mid-crash stick-twirls, and jackhammer bass drum kicks. Drum solos? He's got those too, launching into a particularly bombastic minute-and-a-half solo before the band's propulsive run at "Violence." Nobody puts Travis Barker in a corner. Nobody.

Still lazy after all these years

A great deal of Blink-182’s lyrical output is concerned with the difficulties of “growing up,” so it’s refreshing to see that the band has held on to its sense of levity over the years. Hoppus remains the class clown on stage, using Skiba as an effective straight man for goofs about local sports teams (“If I was the North Stars, I never would have left you guys in a million years!”), his pop-punk contemporaries ("This song is more emo than Jimmy Eat World having sex with Taking Back Sunday") and some good old fashioned physical comedy. During "Reckless Abandon," the bassist snuck up behind a distracted Skiba and tossed all of his stashed guitar picks into the crowd, and later, during "Not Now," Hoppus wormed his way between Skiba’s mic stand and the guitarist mid-chorus, grinning like a teenager the whole way.

Here comes the boom

When was the last time you saw a show with an honest-to-god pyrotechnics program? Blink brought along more fireworks than a Wisconsin truck stop, and had the crowd’s ears ringing from more than just speakers. The trio made good use of flash bangs as extramusical exclamation points on songs like "Dysentery Gary" and the climactic set closer "Los Angeles" from California. As if the multitude of 'splosions wasn't enough, the also activated the sparkler jets on "Down," and even flamethrower cannons on the big new single “Bored to Death.”

Kids are united

Despite their spiky hair, loud guitars and potty mouths, Blink-182 are total dads. During the band's encore, Travis' daughter Alabama Luella Barker parked herself next to Matt Skiba's monitor and rocked along from stage left. After revving hard through "Damnit," the band ran a confetti-soaked crash out right into a drum solo from Barker's son Landon. With Hoppus standing proudly on the monitors just behind him and plunking along, Landon showed off some seriously impressive drum solo chops. A heartwarming way to end a night of snotty fun.

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