Blink-182's tour kick-off Thursday night at Las Vegas' the Joint venue was the kind of show that doubled as one prolonged rim shot, a tongue-in-(butt)-cheek time warp back to junior high, starring a band that has long served as the itching powder in pop rock's jock strap.
After sets from openers Valencia and Motion City Soundtrack, who played songs off their excellent 2007 release, Even if It Kills Me (Weezer, Fall Out Boy and others will join the tour later), Blink singer/guitarist Tom DeLonge walked onstage and spit the first words to a sold-out crowd: "Motherfucker, fuck, shit, cocksucker."
That's it, just a random string of profanities that served as a potty-mouthed precursor for what was to come over the next 90 minutes or so.
"Good point," singer/bassist Mark Hoppus chimed in, playing the eye-rolling straight guy to the fount of snark that is his bandmate. Together, Hoppus and DeLonge are like a puerile Smothers Brothers, with razor blades for tongues and plenty of songs that emanate straight from the groin.
Reunited on their first tour in five years, along with livewire drummer Travis Barker, the rhythmic engine that drives this band, Blink looked back on a career that, on and off, has spanned more than a decade-and-a-half now.
Back in the day, Blink turned diarrhea into a punch line, sang about doing really nasty things with grandpa, and wielded their immaturity like a battle flag, trying so damn hard to offend that they actually penned a song about gettin' coital with Hitler at one point (they were reportedly talked out of releasing it on 2001's "Take Off Your Pants and Jacket" by a couple of the dudes in Pearl Jam).
This side of the band was certainly on display at the Joint.
"I honestly feel like I should only talk about my dick," DeLonge said midway through the show, apropos of pretty much everything.
"Chuck Norris masturbates to us," he later added.
Playing many tunes faster and harder than they were originally recorded, the band charged through heart-in-the-throat missives like "Obvious" and "Stockholm Syndrome," which revolve around failed relationships and questions of one's mortality, respectively.
Elsewhere, Blink delved into more subdued tunes about suicide ("Adam's Song"), alcoholism ("Man Overboard"), and divorce ("Stay Together For The Kids"). "I need somebody," DeLonge sang on a somber "I Miss You," his bratty bray quelled into a wounded yelp.
Moreover, a third of the Blink's 21-song setlist was culled from the band's superb self-titled 2004 disc (including B-side "Not Now"), a largely downcast, lovelorn album where significant others always seem to be heading out the door.
This is the duality that's long defined this bunch: Sure, they've penned their share of sophomoric toss-offs "Dysentery Gary," anyone? but there has always been an almost child-like vulnerability and tender-skinned emotiveness at the core of the band.
Live, all this sentiment is brought to a boil.
Barreling across a largely unadorned stage, the band pulsed with kinetic energy, especially Barker, who hit his kit so hard, it was as if his wrists were steel belted.
The trio was plenty rough around the edges, as is to be expected from a band playing its first show after a prolonged hiatus, with DeLonge in particular fumbling with lyrics to songs like "All The Small Things" and "Carousel."
Not that he seemed to care much.
"Look at you guys, payin' to see us and shit," he leered at one point. "Ha! Ha! The joke's on you."
He was totally right, but it was hard not to join in on the laughter regardless.
"What's My Age Again?"?
"I Miss You"?
"Going Away to College"?
"All the Small Things"
"Anthem Part 2"