Blink-182 Deliver a Knockout Performance in Dallas With New Member Matt Skiba

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With A Day to Remember and All-American Rejects
Gexa Energy Pavilion, Dallas
Friday, July 29, 2016

Bands change lineups all the time; that's nothing new. But when a lineup change happens 24 years into a band’s existence and without the members’ consent? That’s interesting, and it added a neat twist to Blink-182’s sold-out show at Gexa Energy Pavilion Friday night as the band’s newest addition, Matt Skiba, made his Dallas debut in support of their new album, California.

Skiba was drafted into Blink-182 to replace singer Tom Delonge, who may or may not have been forced out of the band because of his time invested in investigating UFOs. With Friday's show coming only a week into their new tour, the band smartly started the night off with classics, delivering “Feeling This,” “What’s My Age Again” and “The Rock Show” straight off the bat.

The sounds were an instant call-back to a time when Blink-182 dominated the pop world and MTV alongside Britney Spears, *NSYNC and Eminem.

That initial run of songs kept the focus on the two-thirds of the band that were familiar to long-time fans. Drummer Extraordinaire Travis Barker was busy putting on a show behind his kit as flames shot up behind him and bassist Mark Hoppus bounced behind his microphone with a childish, nostalgia-inducing smirk. The crowd was quickly on its feet and singing along.  Then it was time for Skiba to take center stage. Right before playing “Bored to Death,” the first song to appear from California, Hoppus introduced the newcomer to the crowd — and it quickly become clear why Skiba was a great choice to replace Delonge. As a longtime veteran of the pop-punk scene, Skiba possesses not only the guitar chops needed to deliver Blink-182's requisite high-energy performance, but his vocal strength is a marked improvement over Delonge’s, who received criticism for years about his vocals after the band’s hiatus ended.

With that said, Skiba and Hoppus still need more time to get the proper chemistry on stage together. While Hoppus was comfortable hopping around the stage in wide-patterned circles, Skiba hardly left the comfort of his microphone stand the entire set. Hoppus wasn’t shy about ribbing his new band mate for it, either. DeLonge’s absence was even more glaring on “I Miss You,” in which his iconic “Where are you?” lyric wasn’t done any justice by Skiba.

The trio made up for it with grand theatrics, though. Pyrotechnics, fireworks and an impressive light show did enough to deflect attention from the little details. Plus, Hoppus and Barker are still very much on the same wavelength with their senses of humor. Near the end of the set Barker hopped off his kit, jumped down with the guys and played bass for “Blowjob.” According to Hoppus, this was Barker’s live debut on bass. Throughout the night, the affection of the crowd never wavered, and the band returned the favor by playing more of the favorites, such as “Dumpweed,” “Dysentary Gary,” “Stay Together for the Kids” and “All the Small Things.” The new material from California went over just as well and, from the looks of it, Blink-182 looked rejuvenated and ready for another run that could last as long as they choose.

While Blink-182 were the clear headliners, there was certainly more merch in the crowd for openers A Day To Remember. The five-piece band from Ocala, Florida are underground kings of the post-hardcore/pop-punk scene of today and chaos ensued when they took the stage. Frontman Jeremy McKinnon played ringleader as the band played through tracks from their 2009 album Homesick and 2010’s What Separates Me From You. Circle pits and mosh pits broke out in the venue’s lawn and there was plenty of crowd surfing throughout. With sold-out shows at South Side Ballroom and Verizon Theatre in recent years, plus a headlining slot on Van's Warped Tour, it's only a matter of time before they get top billing at Gexa themselves.

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