Through all of Blink-182’s ups and downs, there’s no question their music still resonates

By Cameron Lee

July 16, 2023

Photo: Alex Cason / CLTure

There’s a sentimental quality to some concerts, especially music that may have encapsulated an era of innocence or adolescence. Much like the effect new wave music and ‘80s pop may have had on Generation X, pop-punk is what seems to connect most with suburban Millennials. Back when MTV still played music videos, bands like Blink-182 captured audiences with their simple but fetching lyrics and clever brand of California pop-punk. 

Travis Barker and Mark Hoppus of Blink-182 performing in Charlotte on Friday night at Spectrum Center. Photo: Alex Cason / CLTure

All of those nostalgic emotions were felt by the sold-out crowd in attendance at Spectrum Center on Friday night. With the return of key band member Tom DeLonge, the stage was set for their long-awaited stop in Charlotte with the core group. Through all of Blink’s ups and downs, and the well-documented tension between DeLonge, Hoppus, and Barker (along with their collective side projects Angels & Airwaves, Box Car Racer, +44, and Simple Creatures), there’s no question this is the band that matters most. 

Opening the show was Travis Barker’s son, Landon. Although it was unclear what type of set to expect from the 19-year-old (he only has a rap song and a Misfits cover on his YouTube page), the young Barker showed promise and good stage presence with a high-energy four-piece rock band. He finished his short set with a version of “die in california” from Machine Gun Kelly’s 2022 album, mainstream sellout

Baltimore hardcore punk rockers Turnstile opening for Blink-182 in Charlotte. Photo: Alex Cason / CLTure

Baltimore punk rockers Turnstile performed for the third time in North Carolina in the last calendar year, having opened up for My Chemical Romance in Raleigh, and performing for their own headlining tour in Charlotte. Three times in a year may not be enough for fans of the dynamic hardcore group fronted by Brendan Yates, who have hit another level of success with their latest album, Glow On, released in 2021. While the arena was nearing full capacity by the start of their set at 8:15 p.m., it was a tame outing for the group, who are more accustomed to packed rock clubs and mosh pits than massive arenas. Regardless, their head-banging, high-flying brand of rock was well received. 

Mark Hoppus, Travis Barker, and Tom DeLonge performing as Blink-182 for the first time in Charlotte since 2011. Photo: Alex Cason / CLTure

As the clock struck 9:30 p.m., the epic horns from the tone poem “Also Sprach Zarathustra” (best known for its use in 2001: A Space Odyssey and as Ric Flair’s entrance music) reverberated through the arena. Anticipation was high as the band walked onto the diamond-shaped stage together for the first time in Charlotte since 2011. The first notes for “Anthem Part Two” were played and spotlights shined bright on the band, with three large digital screens positioned behind them. They then jumped right into their crowd pleaser, “The Rock Show,” the lead single to their 2001 album, Take Off Your Pants and Jacket.  

Mark Hoppus and Tom DeLonge of Blink-182. Photo: Alex Cason / CLTure

While Blink-182 has had its share of tragedy over the years, like Hoppus’ recent bout with cancer and Barker surviving a plane crash in South Carolina in 2008, the band’s childish antics and demeanor remain the same. Cracking banal jokes throughout their 90-minute set, it was difficult at times to decipher if there was a genuine camaraderie within the group or if this was a huge money grab for the aging rockers.

For most in the audience, none of that probably mattered because everyone was too busy reminiscing and singing along. While a majority of their 25-song set were from their most successful albums: Enema of the State (1999), Take Off Your Pants and Jacket (2001), and the self-titled Blink-182 from 2003, they did play two songs each off of 2011’s Neighborhoods and 2016’s California recorded with Matt Skiba.

Mark Hoppus and Travis Barker of Blink-182 performing in Charlotte at Spectrum Center. Photo: Alex Cason / CLTure

If Hoppus and DeLonge served as the party jestors for the evening’s festivities, Barker was certainly a knight. Blink-182’s music and lyrics have never been thought of as complex or sophisticated, but there’s no denying Barker’s dexterity on the drums. Barker played virtually blindfolded for “Violence” with a t-shirt wrapped around his head early in the set and didn’t skip a beat through all of the tempo changes. His drum set was raised high above for a portion of the set for all to witness his proficiency. Blink’s success as a band has always relied heavily on Barker’s skills and appeal. 

Travis Barker of Blink-182 performing in Charlotte at Spectrum Center on Friday night. Photo: Alex Cason / CLTure

But it wasn’t all outdated juvenile jokes for Hoppus and DeLonge. Prior to “Adam’s Song,” one of the band’s more serious ballads that tackle suicide, Hoppus shed a few tears after expressing “these shows have healed me more than any medicine, more than any doctor.” 

Closing the set with arguably three of their most popular songs, “What’s My Age Again,” “First Date,” and “All The Small Things,” with a resounding sing-along for the latter, the band finished with the only track (“Dammit”) off their major label debut, Dude Ranch

While Blink-182 remains a somewhat polarizing band, especially for punk purists, they don’t seem to take themselves or their music too seriously. Which is pretty punk if you think about it. One thing is for sure, their music continues to resonate with their fans.


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“Anthem Part Two”
“The Rock Show”
“Family Reunion”
“Man Overboard”
“Feeling This”
“Reckless Abandon”
“Up All Night”
“Dysentery Gary”
“Aliens Exist”
“Happy Holidays, You Bastard”
“Stay Together for the Kids”
“Bored to Death”
“I Miss You”
“Adam’s Song”
“Ghost on the Dance Floor”
“What’s My Age Again?”
“First Date”
“All the Small Things”

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