Being a lover of fan culture, plus a very social and inquisitive person, I love meeting other fans and then hearing their awesome fan stories. In the process, I make amazing friends, so I just had to share these two items with you all:
Photo credit to Jasmine Mae With
My friend Jasmine, as you may have seen in a this hilarious video I did with her, is a HUGE fan of Matthew Gray Gubler of “Criminal Minds” and other projects. She moved from the midwest to Southern Cali to pursue her dreams, and on her time off, she goes on quests to meet the celebs who have influenced her. I’m happy to share she finally met Matthew, which she documents in this vlog. “I was all up in that armpit!” Her goal was to have him piggyback her in a photo, but he said he has done it before and it’s gotten him in trouble. Go watch the vlog and give her a thumbs up for taking a risk and accomplishing her fan goal!
Photo credit to Amanda Rosenblatt
In another story, I met my friend Anthony at a Blink182 show in San Diego last year and we both shared the event of meeting members of our favorite band for the first time (you may remember, in this vlog, how I caught the moment on camera when Anthony learned that Mark got some artwork that Anthony made for him). Anthony has since attended WAY more shows than I have and has since had the pleasure of meeting the guys another time. He did an awesomely vivid writeup of what it’s like to go to these shows and he was nice enough to allow me to share it after the page break below:
My friend asked for a write up on my experience at blink-182 so I wrote a piece and thought it would be appropriate to share here.
It was a cool day, some wind, some sunshine, some rain, then some more sun. It was about 12:30 when I came walking up to the line with a couple of fold out chairs and a blue Napa cooler, of which my family had always sported on the holidays and at family parties. There were around 15 hard core blink fans ahead of me, that or 15 twenty-somethings that didn’t have school or work for the day. All were decked out in their ripped and faded jeans, a hot topic sold blink shirt, and some sort of headgear. I parked my gear, set up camp, and started the five hours of waiting in line that lay ahead of me to see the modern rendition of 1990’s best pop punk power trio.
Now this is my sixth time seeing blink-182 live. I had started my lifelong love affair with the band starting with their 2013 Riot Fest and Carnival show in Byers, CO, a cow town forty miles east of the bustling Denver punk scene. It was there that my music idols danced on stage and mocked each other’s mothers right before my very own eyes. The magic of that show will always hold a near and dear place in my heart, but with Tom Delonge, former front-man and founding member, on stage left.
This show today would be my fifth time seeing blink with the new, but far from amateur musician; Matt Skiba. The love for a Skiba driven blink bloomed just last year when I had traveled to California to see the two secret “warm up” shows including Hoppus, Barker, and the Alkaline Trio based musician. Although controversial at first, this new face on stage had brought back the punk element that the band had lost over the years with the former (space oriented) front-man. Blink was suddenly fantastic and lively again with new life blooming on guitar and vocals, even with the aid of a special TelePrompTer on stage filling the blanks in the seasoned singers memory.
Friends arriving from the northern reaches of the state had come to join me in line with plenty of alcohol and jokes to pass the time to doors. I was surrounded by a few of the closest people in my life, including some that had made the trek to California to see the band on the first leg of their tour in a couple months beforehand. The few of that had seen the production that was to come were buzzing with excitement to finally experience the spectacle in our hometown surrounded by 16,000 other people that had flocked from around the area. A lightning advisory had moved us indoors for the time being, but never did put a dampener on the anxious and enthusiastic aura of the dedicated crowd. As door time moved closer, the weather had cleared up and the courtyard of the Denver landmark, the Pepsi Center, had begun filling with thousands of individuals. Most of which were in my same age group, but the occasional set of parents, or life long fan, constructed the crowd that had been gathering for the nights headliner.
Doors had finally opened and the several lines that spanned the front of the building had begun filing through security and into the dome ahead. Tickets were checked as security wands scanned every man, woman, and child entering the doors with their personal belongings in hand. The spectators filed through every part of the building, but the main focus was on the crowd entering the floor area that touched the stage. I had positioned myself on the barricade next to some other long time blink fans that had previously entered from the VIP crowd, with my friends in tow behind me. Slowly but surely the bowl filled for the opening act that was finishing his set up.
About one third of the floor and the surrounding seats were occupied when DJ Spider, friend of Travis Barker, began his mixed set of 90’s and early 00’s emo hits with his personal touch.
Throughout our voyage to California and back to see blink, my closest friends and I had a running joke of only attending the concert to only see DJ Spider, while ignoring the other acts. With that joke in mind, we were dancing and jumping as well as singing along to all of the familiar songs pumping through the PA at Pepsi Center. Several times the man on stage pointed and smiled at us while trying to excite the crowd in front of him. Thinking back to it now, I could definitely feel the eyes of the onlookers around us casting judgement with the misconception that we were mocking the performance, however that was not the case. Several tracks from our days in elementary and middle school played out for our entertainment, all of which were enjoyable with the mixing of the DJ until the clock struck 7PM and it was time for the next act to enter the stage.
Lights were down across the bowl as the All American Rejects ran on stage to give us a throwback of all their greatest hits, those of which were extremely popular with people close in age to myself. The venue was now more utilized and the crowd had begun to op n up to the acts before us, singing along to every song that was performed, and actually moving to the familiar grooves of the band onstage. Momentum of involvement of the crowd was occasionally cut short briefly while the singer rambled on about acknowledging their past radio fame and crude jokes, most of which made me blush. Things continued as such until the front-man had called a seemingly random seat in the house to check under their seat. An unknowing concert goer had discovered a “magic banana” under their seat, which was a pass to come join AAR on stage as they performed. The people immediately around me had stopped laughing along with the banana jokes as it was becoming more and more drawn out and ridiculous. Finally the music had begun moving again with a song off the bands new album, titled “I Don’t Give A Fuck”. This particular song was subject to another long running inside joke of having particularly cringey, yet catchy, lyrics between my friends. Being that this was a new song that hasn’t been released yet, only the people I had traveled to California with knew the actual lyrics to the song. Those participating in singing along stuck out among the large crowd, and the lyrics rang out among the thousands spectating. Several songs more had marked the end of the All American Rejects set, and the stage hands had begun preparing for A Day To Remember’s set.
Again, the lights in the arena went down to nothing, this time with the familiar theme from 2001: A Space Odyssey playing in the unlit room. Suspense built to the forte of tympani rolls and finally into a blast of lights and heavy music that is so familiar to ADTR. The men on stage played heavy and fast, running about on stage and posing for their fans and photographers. Suddenly the people on the floor who had remained silent for the first two openers began moving and pushing for the stage. The crowd was alive and active with the pounding beats and chugging of guitars in front of them. Jeremy McKinnon of A Day To Remember called for applause to congratulate DJ Spider and the AAR for a job well done, and to introduce his band that was performing. The men on stage pounded through important parts of their discography, while also noting their new songs that were released on their new billboard charting record. The energy and movement of the crowd continued until it was time to introduce an acoustic song, along with the crowds participation in using cell phone lights to artificially illuminate the stadium. A beautiful ballad was performed before the full, lit venue before them.
The whole band reemerged from behind the set and finished out the softer track with a heavy tone. At this time Jeremy called out for a man the entire crowd was waiting to see, Mr. Travis Barker of blink-182. To perform the hit ADTR track; 2nd Sucks, Travis mounted the drum set and the band sped into the heavy melodies. Along with an eruption from the crowd, the PA cut out from the entire venue, and the men on stage were left to perform the much anticipated hit with raw instruments and personal amplifiers. Unfortunately, the sound problem was resolved at the end of the performance and Travis had exited the stage. Visibly annoyed by the setbacks, A Day To Remember finished out their set under full power and an inflatable hamster ball which was used to set Jeremy free amongst the top of the crowd packed on the floor. The song marked the end of their set and the band thanked the crowd a final time before exiting behind their set.
The down time for set up between ADTR and blink seems to drag on for an hour when in all actuality a measly thirty minutes pass. Initially the crowd has the privilege of watching tear down and set up for the nights headliner, but that all comes to an end when a thick black curtain hides away the activity onstage. Only faint shadows of crew men and band members can be seen behind the dark veil, and you are left guessing which figure is who behind it all. Familiar faces such as Travis’ drum tech, and the the rest of the “Ocho” team can be seen exiting the stage and the lights dim down. An eruption of instruments on stage ring out across the packed stadium as the curtain drops to the floor below. The familiar opener “Feeling This” brings momentum to a full sprint for everyone on the stage and in the crowd below.
After being immediately dazzled by the surprise of sight and sound on stage, I really started to focus on on what’s all happening in front of me. Mark Hoppus was in my immediate frame of focus and was subject to my first look over. As I first discovered three years ago, I first notice the truth behind the phrase “the camera adds ten pounds”. My bass-playing idol looks thinner in person than on the thousands of photos I’ve seen of him online in the pages and forums. He is keeping his solid bass lines all while smiling at the immediate fans and hopping around on stage like the bunnies that have become synonymous with the band itself. Beyond that, I notice his outfit, what bass he has in hand first (the fender jazz style painted by the artist Craola), and then onto the other members of the band. Travis is moving at inhuman speeds as he races back and forth on the drum kit, all while playing familiar hits with added flavor in time. Skiba is across the stage playing in place of the familiar voice of Delonge we’ve grown accustom to on the album.
I seem to forget everything that’s going on around me and for a brief moment I realize the beauty of what’s in motion around me. I exist in a sea of fans that all share a preference in music, all of which is in front of thousands of LCD’s playing a beautifully visual background to the band performing on stage. In that moment the music speeds past my ears and I pull the graphic of my tee up to display to the man on stage. He quickly takes notice and points at the pocket-watch-holding bunny that sits atop the grey decal. A smile crosses his mouth and I feel in that moment that I’m the most important person in the crowd. That brief point in time will engrave itself in the wrinkles of my mind, where I will continue to access the happiness of that memory for years to come. Suddenly the weight of the moment lifts and I’m re-immersed into the rock show.
The trio on stage pounds out hit after hit with the same energy they’ve been performing with for a quarter of a century. The occasional track from the anticipated comeback album “California” lights up the new generation of blink fans, those of which have never experienced an evening in front of the iconic band. I remember thinking specifically how beautiful it was to hear the new track “San Diego” played live. It was a track I wasn’t particularly fond about at the time the album dropped, but it had forced its way in my brain and finally into my heart. Memorable lines of losing friends around you and listening to the gloomy tracks of the iconic band The Cure rang with intensity in that moment on stage. The end of that song marked the end of the darker feelings within and rang in the excitement and intensity for the tracks that would ultimately wrap up the evening with blink-182.
A new element was added to the show since the time we had seen them in San Diego and Las Vegas. A new, visually stimulating, video was included along with crowd surfing blow up dolls to the earlier track “Dysentery Gary”. At this point, the show was all about having a good time and partying along with everyone in the crowd to the soundtrack of a more angsty blink. The set seemed prematurely cut as Mark and Skiba thanked the city of Denver for their patronage as they left the stage. The lights inside the stadium rose to normal levels as anxious concert goers began chanting for the band to play one more song. Several minutes passed with no response from the band, but was met with two rock stars clad in matching pink fender jaguar styled guitars. The synthesized opening of “All The Small Things” rang in the beginning of an encore set.
Crowd members surfed above their peers to the line of security at the foot of the stage in a rinse and repeat manner. The trio was overpowered vocally by the thousands of fans before them singing along to the familiar tracks, one after another. With time running short, Skiba pounded into blinks first radio smash hit. The familiar chord structure and tale of losing a girlfriend echoed through the massive Pepsi Center. Every single person in the crowd sang along with Mark, who has become accustomed to the vibrant energy radiating from every crowd during the finale.
Confetti burst to every corner of the floor as the band finished their time with the enthusiastic crowd in Denver. The final chord rang out as Mark set his bass down and began tossing t shirts around to the nearest fans before exiting the stage with Travis and Matt.
The house lights rose back to their normal levels as the last of the falling confetti settled to the ground and the crowd had begun pouring out of the stadium. It seemed every spectator left that room with a goofy smile on their face as they kicked around empty beer cups and water bottles that had been left carelessly on the floor. Laughter and recounts of the best moments from the night could be heard across the floor as friends met together before going their own ways into the night.
Pleased with the events of the night, I couldn’t help but shake the melancholy feeling that I wouldn’t have the chance to view the spectacle that is blink-182 for more than a year as they toured their immersive show to the reaches of Europe and surrounding areas. Only one thing was for certain that evening, I would never forget the magic of blink-182.
Credit to Anthony Borders for the piece above.