Written by Morgan Bailas, Photos by Josh Lowe
One word I would never associate with Blink 182 would be ‘serious’. But I kept coming back to it after experiencing the 2011 Honda Civic Tour in Hartford, CT, on August 14. Blink 182 and their fans are serious. Serious about having a fucking good time.
It first became apparent that this show was going to be entertaining as I attempted to journey through pouring rain across multiple parking lots to reach the Comcast Theater. The first band was to go on at 7, and it was 6:40 but most everyone was still tailgating outside in the parking lots. It had been raining all day in Connecticut, to the point of the National Weather service issuing flood warnings, but it seemed like these fans hadn’t noticed. There was nary a rain poncho in sight. The accessories of choice appeared to be rain boots, Blink 182 shirts from past tours, beer cans and not giving a damn about the weather. These fans were having the time of their life before the show even started, and I almost wished I had arrived earlier to take part in the experience.
Rushing inside to catch the first band, Manchester Orchestra, turned out to be a good call. They were out supporting their newest album, Simple Math. I had been surprised to learn that they were supporting on this tour, as it didn’t seem like they fit with the rest of the line up. Manchester Orchestra, fronted by Andy Hull, is a band that is known for their emotional songs, with Hull’s masterfully heart wrenching lyrics as the centerpiece.
It was my first Manchester Orchestra experience, and I had been waiting for years to hear Andy Hull sing in all his bearded, angelic-voiced glory. They came out quietly with no intro, and launched right into their set starting with “Pride”. They included few new songs such as “Deer”, but played more of their older material including “Everything to Nothing” and “Shake It Out”. They seemed to try to stick with their more powerful, upbeat songs. I could see why; their slower material would have probably not translated as well to such a large venue, and been lost on the crowd expecting a rock show. For an indie rock band from Atlanta, GA, they seemed to be winning in the battle of gaining the support of the pop-punk loving crowd.
My Chemical Romance was up next, and the crowd’s response to them was extraordinary. When the lights dimmed, the roar of the crowd was at the volume of deafening usually reserved for headliners. My Chemical Romance has been touring almost non-stop since the release in November 2010 of their most recent album, Danger Days: The True Lives of Fabulous Killjoys. Their set was fun in a glam-rock way, including the gimmick of huge colorful balloons that dropped onto the crowd for the crowd to bat around like beach balls. That is, until they reached the stage where a red-headed Gerard Way would pop them, showering the crowd with hunks of glitter. Their set focused more on their newest release, playing the tracks “House of Wolves”, and “Planetary (Go!)”. But they didn’t forget about the crowd pleasers “Helena”, and “I’m Not Okay”, which had the kids singing along.
By the time the time Blink 182 was to take the stage at 9:20, the Comcast Theater was utterly packed. Tailgating was over outside, though the drinking and festivities continued in the theater until the house lights went down. If I had thought the crowd’s reception to My Chemical Romance’s set had been enthusiastic, I was not prepared for the staggering volume of the crowd inside the venue as Blink began with “Feeling This”. Thankful for my earplugs, I couldn’t help but be swept away in waves of nostalgia as Blink 182 ran through what was essentially a greatest hits set. They did include four new songs that are off their forthcoming studio album, Neighborhoods, which is set for release on September 27. Their stage banter throughout the night was downright hysterical, starting out with the band renaming Hartford to “Hardford”, complete with hard-on jokes.
Tom fell on his ass during the second song of the night and Mark called him out, which rapidly deteriorated into dirty “your mom” jokes. It reminded me of listening to their live album The Mark, Tom and Travis Show, which showcased their crude stage banter that they have been known for throughout their career. After nearly six albums and starting off in the 90’s, Blink 182 still manages to put on a great live show musically and be hilarious in an organic, unforced way.Manchester Orchestra and My Chemical Romance were great, but Blink 182’s headlining set tipped the scales to make the 10th
Honda Civic Tour the most enjoyable tour I’ve caught this summer.