Updated: Jul 7, 2020
On August 30th, The Blink-182 and Lil Wayne Tour -- later rebranded the Enema of the State 20th Anniversary Tour -- came to the Sunlight Supply Amphitheater in Ridgefield, Washington, just on the other side of the Columbia River from Portland.
The tour is to promote Blink-182’s upcoming eighth album -- rebelliously called Nine -- as well as Lil Wayne's twelfth album, Tha Carter V, which came out last year.
The venue is big. In fact, it is the Portland Metro Area’s largest outdoor amphitheater.
For those more used to the indoor experience, it was unique to be able to wander around outside before the show started. I drank some beer (at 8-14 bucks each), and then walked my drink right to the spot we had claimed in the grassy, sloped hill behind the sprawling covered seated area.
The crowds of denim-clad, middle-aged and late-stage-Millennial punks were out in droves, clearly enjoying their chance to relive their younger years, when Enema of the State was a new album and Blink-182 dominated music charts.
Large screens located at the top of the stadium's covered area became indispensable for the night, making it easy to see the show even from the back of the venue. It also later made it easy to see that Tom DeLonge, the former vocalist and founding member of Blink, was not at the show.
It is worth mentioning that, upon arriving at the venue, staffers were upgrading people's lawn tickets to seated ones for free, presumably to fill the seats closest to the stage. This seems to have been a theme for the tour.
Rolling Stone contributor Andy Greene reported previously that, “A quick glance at Ticketmaster shows oceans of unsold tickets at many shows with seats even in the back of the pavilion going for over $100 in certain markets."
He also opined that rebranding the tour as a twentieth anniversary of Enema of the State was “(a) move designed to help move tickets that were probably priced a little too high to begin with.”
It’s also notable how Lil Wayne has behaved in response to the lack of ticket sales and low reception for the tour.
Vulture reported after the tour’s stop in Bristow, Virginia that Lil Wayne stopped his set four songs in, complained of the crowd size, and remarked that he “might be leaving the tour early.”
Obviously, he changed his mind because the next day he posted to Twitter saying he was going to stay on the tour because he was having too much fun with his “Bros Blink-182”. His “bros” hit back later in the show, apparently.
The opening act was a Welsh band named Neck Deep. They are a pop-punk band who fit in with the early 2000’s vibe of the tour (even though their band was created around 2012). Their band consists of lead singer Ben Barlow, lead guitarist Sam Bowden, drummer Dani Washington, Matt West on rhythm guitar, and bass player Joshua Halling.
Their lead singer's vocals were reminiscent of the post-punk bands who made up much of the early and mid-2000’s music scene. Neck Deep cites A Day to Remember as a major source of inspiration, for example.
One notable song from their lineup was called “December” which was by far the crowd’s favorite song from their set, with many singing along to the melody.
When Barlow asked the crowd how many people knew of them before the show, it was a sparse response but he rolled with it, talking about how they met Blink-182 on a European tour and what an honor it was to play with such an influential group.
Lil Wayne and his group were up next. Not knowing of his earlier… primadonna moment on tour, I was headed to get another beer in between set changes. I heard whispers through the crowds that were outside of the main stadium area that Lil Wayne might not even be playing that night.
By the time he went on, the daylight was fading and the smoke was filling the open arena (even though it was mentioned over the loudspeakers that smoking marijuana was still illegal in public venues such as this one). Lil Wayne himself contributed his fair share to the air, smoking a big blunt during his whole set.
The stage lights showed an impressive display of purple, and on the screens above, the iconic rapper could be seen: tattoo laden, wearing a gray tank top, blonde dreads flowing from under his white baseball cap.
He played samples of many of his classic hits such as “Lollipop” and “A Milli,” but the surprising thing was that his set didn't fall flat with it being just him rapping onstage. Most of his songs feature other artists, after all, but Wayne was able to make up the difference.
His DJ would occasionally hype everyone up, but Lil Wayne controlled the stage quite well, never standing in one place for too long. During one of his songs, the screens above altered his appearance to look like he was on fire, which added quite a bit of flash to the performance.
Overall, it was quite a fun set. No drama-filled moments that the tour had seen on other stops.
Next, it was time for the main event of the evening.
When you think of Blink-182, you probably think of the fun, youthful lyrics, the insane skill of drummer Travis Barker, and the constant tribulation of wondering if the whole band is getting back together or not.
After Blink's reunion following a long hiatus in the mid-2000’s, it seemed like they were back in full force when the band released two studio albums in 2010 and 2012. But, the self-described dysfunction in the group wasn’t over and founding vocalist/guitarist Tom DeLonge split yet again from the group in 2015.
For the last two years, DeLonge has been searching for UFOs over at his company, To The Stars Academy. But when the news broke that there was going to be a 20th anniversary tour of Enema of the State, it seemed easy to assume that the band was back at it again and that DeLonge would join for the tour!
Well, that was not the case. It was immediately noticeable the hole (metaphorically speaking) where DeLonge should be. Bassist and singer Mark Hoppus pluckily filled that void of frontman and lead vocalist, but Matt Skiba has taken the post of guitar and vocals since DeLonge’s departure.
Still, each song they played sounded much like it did 15-20 years ago. Though Hoppus added a tiny amount of his own flair, he brought the setlist to life with his high energy.
The crowd exploded with life the second they started playing, and the energy only increased as they played hits like “First Date,” “What’s My Age Again?,” and “All The Small Things.” It was clear these were not casual fans, as the majority sang along with almost every song, bringing new life into the show throughout the night.
It’s too bad DeLonge wasn’t there, since he would have finally found the aliens he’s been searching for. Around the time they played their hit song “Aliens Exist,” inflatable extraterrestrials were thrown to the crowd to bounce along with the rest of the show.
Travis Barker sustained an injury in a horrific 2008 plane crash, but you’d never know -- he wrecked those drums like he had a personal vendetta against them. Barker, who regularly gets ranked in the top 100 (at least) drummers of all time, is a driving force behind Blink-182’s success.
Near the tail end of the show, Barker created magic with a drum solo that didn’t just showcase his skill, but the stagecraft of the show. A cage descended from the rafters and enclosed around him, lifting him into the air and turning him upside down at one point.
Overall, this was a show that covered everything you would want from an anniversary tour: Iconic songs from a band that has been in many hearts for two or more decades, Hip-hop music from a tempermental rapper who is trying to hold on to his reign, plus, a foreign band that you have probably not heard of before -- and it’s always nice to keep it fresh.
More photos from the show:
Blink-182’s Setlist (found at Setlist.fm)
Don't Leave Me
Going Away to College
What's My Age Again?
All the Small Things
The Party Song
Down (Mark & Matt acoustic)
Wasting Time (Mark & Matt acoustic)
Bored to Death
Built This Pool
I Miss You
Blame It on My Youth