I swear I was nearly a foot taller than the rest of the audience, if not at least 15 years older to boot. It was a totally different crowd than I remember from other Blink-182 outings, and the trio's only acknowledgment of its prepubescent fanbase occurred when guitarist/singer Tom Delonge expressed his disgust at breast-baring kiddies. Delonge then set an 18-and-over limit on boobies (what a classy guy), although he set the age limit at ages 8 to 20 for a song about how it would be nice to have a blowjob until bassist/singer Mark Hoppus registered his disapproval at the low end of that range.
Such "witty" banter set the mood of the night, with debauchery and disgustingly juvenile highjinks taking center stage while the extremely young audience worshipped at the crude altar. The set resembled a drive-in theater, complete with a starry backdrop and a marquee that read, somewhat inaccurately, "The Mark, Tom, and Travis show." (Drummer Travis Barker was disabled; Damon Delapaz, guitarist for opening act Fenix TX, took his place). To further the theme, Blink-182 offered footage from '50s sci-fi films, '60s counterculture freakouts, and various other enjoyable B-grade genres. The images worked in perfect symmetry with the songs, which rendered highly dubious the group's claim that it would let the audience select its set list.
This preprogrammed list focused primarily on the multiplatinum Enema of the State, although Blink-182 did play a few numbers from Dude Ranch and its fairly obscure predecessor, Cheshire Cat. Although they struggled a bit on the older material, the fans sang along eagerly to such MTV hits as "Adam's Song," "What's My Age Again," and "All the Small Things," as well as "Silent Night," which Delonge instigated and kept alive through several verses. The unconditionally affectionate audience also danced, moshed, crowd-surfed (between songs, an absurd activity that Hoppus rightfully mocked), and laughed at inane jokes about incest, masturbation, Satan, farts, and various other obscene topics too sordid to revisit.
As a prelude to the encore, Tom and Mark came out individually to dance suggestively to Sisqo's "Thong Song." It was a very bratty, self-indulgent thing to do, and it delighted the fans to see the Teen People cover boys in their sweaty boxers, but it wasn't very punk rock. And considering this was billed as a night of punk rock entertainment, that was somewhat of a shame.
The only real punk rock of the night came from the legendary Bad Religion, a band so stridently down for the cause that the kids in the audience didn't know quite what to make of it. The group drew into its 20-year catalog, unearthing such gems as "Atomic Garden," "American Jesus," and "Anesthesia," but it focused on its optimistically themed new effort, The New America. Although delivered with the usual power and conviction, neither the old nor the fresh tunes did much to impress the stunned, slightly unentertained youngsters. Bad Religion, though impressive, acted as a buzzkill when sandwiched between Blink-182 and its apprentices, Fenix TX.
Fenix TX is, simply put, Blink-182 Mark 2, and this quartet conducted itself in a remarkably similar manner, although the jokes were even more tasteless and the music was much less substantial. The group's frontman, Willie Salazar, went so far as to claim that getting naked was a very punk rock thing for the young girls in attendance to do. Well, I know punk rock, and there is no place for topless 10-year-olds in punk rock. Fenix TX was a letdown for real punk rock fans everywhere but a hit with the hormonally charged soon-to-be teens in the audience. This summed the evening up nicely -- A purported punk rock orgy that turned out to be a showcase for wanking brats and the kids who love them and would surely express said love if given the chance.