I was blessed with the opportunity to see Blink 182 at Sziget 2014 the other day, they’re one of my all-time favourite acts and I couldn’t wait. Taking to the stage around 10 minutes later than schedule, Mark Hoppus, Tom DeLonge and Travis Barker of US pop-rock band Blink 182 kicked off their two-hour-plus set with one of my favourites- Feeling This, then came What’s My Age Again? The Rock Show, Up All Night, Down and I Miss You, so yeah, all their best songs. They performed each with an incredible amount of energy and all three looked to be on top of the world, the crowd was absolutely buzzing and despite my height (just under 6ft5) I was literally thrown about, squashed, and wedged between my fellow festival-goers, courtesy of the energy conveyed by the group’s performance. A few songs later came my two absolute favourites- Always, followed by Stay Together For The Kids, two particular performances I don’t think I’ll ever forget.
Then the performance hit something of a lull, they played around 4-5 songs that not one person in the entire crowd seemed to know, and I’m not exaggerating when I say nobody was moving, let alone dancing or singing. I’m sure I wasn’t the only one who was thinking something along the lines of ‘well they’ve played all the songs I know, why bother staying ’til the end?’ After these pretty shit songs, (that also seemed to last an eternity) the supposed fan-favourite All The Small Things (I much prefer the aforementioned tracks) was finally played, unfortunately the crowd was quite literally bored by then and we’d all mentally checked out. Despite the audience’s best efforts to get on board with the ‘na-na-nas’, the energy and commitment was abundantly lacking from the explosive opening.
The set-closer was Carousel, after which Mark simply waved, and uttered ‘that’s all the songs we’re going to play now, bye’. The three then exited the stage as if they had somewhere else to be and I was genuinely convinced they weren’t going to be coming back. Obviously an act of Blink 182’s calibre, on the main stage, on the first day of an international festival was going to return to the stage with an encore, and the crowd knew this, resulting in the most timid appeals for an encore I’ve ever heard, half-hearted ‘one more song’ s came from a minor portion of the crowd, along with a few ‘woos’ from the more intoxicated of us. Five minutes later, I’d lost interest and left the crowd to watch from afar, that is if they ever actually decided to come back on stage. A further five minutes later they graced us with their presence once more, accompanied with a giant banner with ‘fuck’ scrawled over it to perform one song I didn’t know, followed by Dammit. They then finalised their set with the already-ridiculous Family Reunion.
Following with the maturity of the closer, this is where my main criticism comes- Tom DeLonge. He’s a great singer, a talented guitarist, and an excellent song writer, but he has the mental-age and overall maturity of an eight-year-old. In contrast, Mark Hoppus is a naturally charismatic performer, he has an air of Billy Joe Armstrong about him and he’s the real star of the trio, because it’s effortless, it’s natural, and it looks like he’s a pro. Simply put, Tom DeLonge is just weird, replacing lyrics with ‘hand job’ or ‘blow job’, changing ‘I try to kiss you if you let me’ to ‘fuck you’, or saying how his and Mark’s voices combined are ‘concentrating into a strong energy that goes straight into your vagina’. However, the worst thing of all? Mark’s subtle, almost unnoticeable reaction to Tom’s ridiculous antics, his face screamed ‘what the fuck are you doing’ despite his weak smile, resulting in a bemusing camaraderie between the crowd and Mark that begged for Tom to just shut up and be normal. Of course this is off the back of the pair’s falling out not so long ago, it honestly felt like an on-stage bust-up was forthcoming, which was both bizarre and at the same time, just awkward.
Blink 182 are my childhood heroes, along with Green Day and Eminem, they’re one of my absolute favourites. This overwhelming anticipation to finally see them, coupled with their explosive, unforgettable opening still made for an overall enjoyable performance, one that’ll always remain memorable. Even with Tom DeLonge’s childish, infuriating performance style, along with the flat latter half to the performance, neither can really overshadow the musical talent of the trio from California.