In the summer of 2002, my younger brother Griffin, 15 at the time, had a request. For is 16th birthday he wanted to see his absolute favorite band, Blink-182.
The stage had been set for the Vans Warped Tour, and I was to be the chaperone for the evening. Van Andel Arena in downtown Grand Rapids, MI was a quick 40-minute drive from Western Michigan University. My parents handed him off at the hotel, which was a short walk from the venue.
This was my brothers first concert, first real away-from-mom & dad let’s get crazy adolescent experience. So I wanted it to be a memorable one. Nearly 21, and virtually impenetrable confidence wise, I had procured what my roommates and I called “The Island Special”. 1 pint of Malibu rum and 1 bag of chronic. Bob Marley meets Jack Sparrow. The parking garage roof overlooking downtown Grand Rapids was our pre-gaming locale. Under the brilliant blue sky of a summer day in West Michigan, six stories up, my brother and I took a cruise to “The Islands”. The happiness that radiated from my brother’s face was not just due to the substances. This was his first real concert, first time getting wasted, first time hanging with his older brother in the realm of college.
As we entered the arena, a massive cloud of marijuana permeated the atmosphere. In finding our seats, a full grown man in a pink easter bunny costume was onstage, ripping a 3-foot bong, blowing huge volcanic emissions. This was the opener for the Warped Tour. Then Green Day. Then Blink.
I was 14 when “Dookie” came out. I can still sing every lyric to “Longview” and still relate to every lyric in “Longview”. Watching my younger brother do the same with me and 15,000 people in unison, truly bonded us for life in a perfect moment of high-energy, adolescent anxiety driven, raw-emotion punk rock. The climax of the show featured a couple of lucky fans being invited on stage to make a spontaneous garage band with lead singer Billie Joe, and has been the tradition now for 20 years. One of them got the bass guitar to take home, the other a chance to stage dive, along with with drumsticks. And that was the opener.
In between the acts, during stage breakdown-setup, girls started randomly flashing absolutely everyone. The sun-dials that were my brothers eyes looked almost cartoonish. Like when Bugs Bunny see’s the babe rabbit. Then I realized those were the first boobs my brother had witnessed live and in-color. My apologies to all female readers, and non-straight men. It’s a big deal, and we all remember the first pair we see. Griff saw multiple sets that night, epic introduction in my opinion. If this all wasn’t enough, the girl next to us flashed him specifically. Mind. Blown. Then out came Travis, Tom, Mark, & the Easter Bunny.
As they opened with “Anthem 2” a flash of ridiculous memories of freshman year of college washed over me like a warm blanket. “Take Off Your Pants & Jacket” and “Enema of the State” are absolute rock gems. The high-energy, hard, fast guitar riffs, ridiculously funny immature lyrics, fit perfectly with a band who intermittently claimed throughout the show they had sex with each others parents. Tracks like “Adam Song” and “Stay Together For The Kids” showcase the depth of songwriting skills, along with high-octave choruses driven by real emotions. Travis Barker being inverted like Maverick in “Top Gun” with his drum-set as the F-14 Tomcat was absolutely ballistic. Actually that is the perfect adjective for Blink 182. Absolutely Ballistic.
Their music launches you into stratospheres of euphoric infused nostalgia. Blink-182 and Green Day are 3-piece bands. Guitar, Bass, & Drums. That’s it, you can’t fake anything up there with that setup. If you have the talent like they do though, you don’t want to. As I dropped my brother off at the hotel later, my parent’s watched him devour a whole pizza in the lobby, and commented that he must have caught a “contact-high”. The shit-eating grin he flashed me after that astute parental observation is still in my top five memories growing up. What’s My Age Again?
Blink-182 / Green Day Set List: In no particular order…
- Anthem Part Two – Take Off Your Pants And Jacket
- Stay Together For The Kids – Take Off Your Pants And Jacket
- What’s My Age Again – Enema Of The State
- First Date – Take Off Your Pants And Jacket
- Adam’s Song – Enema Of The State
- Rock Show – Take Off Your Pants And Jacket
- I Miss You – Blink-182
- Roller Coaster – Take Off Your Pants and Jacket
- I’m Feeling This – Blink-182
- All The Small Things – Enema of the State
- Basketcase – Dookie
- Longview – Dookie
- Wake Me up When September Ends – American Idiot
- Boulevard of Broken Dreams – American Idiot
- Jesus of Suburbia – American Idiot
- Welcome to Paradise – Dookie
- Holiday – American Idiot
- Nice Guys Finish Last – Nimrod
- Welcome to Paradise – Dookie
- When I Come Around – Dookie
“First Date” Summer Salad– Iridescent, raw, uniquely different but complimentary to each other. Separate just a fruit or vegetable. Together a symphony of flavor.
BasketCase Bowtie with Bells – Garlic lemon shrimp with multi-colored bell peppers, basil, feta cheese, over bowtie pasta. Use cayenne pepper at your discretion. Loud, colorful, satisfying. Just like Green Day.