Blink 182 / Four Year Strong / New Beat Fund – Sands Event Center – Bethlehem, PA – 9/12/13

The month of September has just started, and already I feel like it is going to be a nostalgic month.  Last weekend I got to photograph Ace Enders and reunited Hidden in Plain View in Philadelphia, which brought back memories from my high school and early college years.  This past Thursday, I went even further back into my memories and found myself thinking about my middle school years.  Now what band was the soundtrack to those years and who was I photographing?  It was none other than Blink 182.  I’ve said it before, if someone told me I would tour with Mxpx in my early twenties, I’d laugh.  Now I can add to the list, if someone told me I would photograph Blink 182 in my mid-twenties, I’d laugh even harder, but somehow, it happened and it was right in my hometown.

The first band of the night was a new band from California called New Beat Fund.  I wasn’t familiar with this band, but they sure did put on an energetic show.  Non-stop movement and upbeat songs, this band is bringing back the fun in music.  The band actually reminds me of the early to mid 90’s skate punk movement.  Not so much the music, but the attitude and appearance.  New Beat Fund is having fun and they want the crowd to have just as much fun.  There needs to be more bands playing live like this, interaction with crowd along with either other.  The last thing New Beat Fund is doing right, is giving away their album for free online and at shows.  New bands, take note from New Beat Fund, this will help you reach a wide audience in the long run.

The next band to take the stage was a band that is no stranger to playing in front of large crowds.  Four Year Strong from Massachusetts took the stage and didn’t even slow down until their set time was up.  Taking note from other fellow Massachusetts hardcore bands, like Bane, Four Year Strong’s stage presence is one not to miss.  I’ve never got to see them live, and now I am kicking myself because they’ve played the Lehigh Valley many times.  Four Year Strong was a good band to have on this show.  For a band that hasn’t been as active as they usually are, they played as solid as if this was a year long tour.  I don’t know what is in store for Four Year Strong, but I don’t think they should slow down.  It seemed like they had a lot of fans in the crowd, and a lot of new ones now.

Closing the show was Blink 182.  The last time I saw Blink 182, was at Hershey Park with Green Day and Saves the Day, which was a long time ago.  I still have the ticket stub, and for all three bands, it cost $25.  I think that tour should happen again, but with the same ticket price.  Blink 182 is a band that I grew up listening to along with Mxpx, Green Day, Face To Face, The Ataris, The Hippos, etc.  My immature and corky humor comes from a daily dose of Mel Brooks’ films, the show Kids in the Hall, and of course Blink 182. I didn’t know what to expect from Blink 182’s show tonight, but when it was over, I was glad that after 21 years they are still going.

When they took the stage, there was no introduction music, just an applause from the crowd and Tom’s guitar going right into “Feeling This”.  Blink 182 ran through a good mix of their catalogue with a big emphasis on their Self-Titled.  At the end of “Miss You” Travis went into a short solo which was nothing less than amazing.  In between songs, there was little humor being thrown around by Tom and Mark.  It seemed like they are trying to get past their live shows being known for that, however, the little bit they had was entertaining.  Especially during “All the Small Things”, Tom changed the word commiserating to masturbating, which I’m not sure if anyone in the audience caught.  Towards the end of “Always” though, it seemed like Tom was getting a little choked up which shows that Blink 182 isn’t all jokes.

Throughout the rest of the show Mark constantly skipped across stage to Tom and then ran backwards to his microphone.  Tom on the other hand stood his ground, but would make faces here and there while throwing in some dance moves.  As for Travis, what is there to say?  He is a monster on the drums and his drumming alone had everyone in awe.

The end of the show showed Blink 182 pulling out the classics.  Ending the set with one of my favorites, “Josie”, and coming back with “Carousel”, “Dammit”, and “Blow Job”, it hopefully pleased the older fans.  Blink 182 put on a show that I feel anyone of any age would enjoy.  Anyone that says they were only good during the Dude Ranch era or earlier is missing out on a good live performance.  I feel Blink 182 has gotten it down to a science in giving a perfect live show and the production adds just the right elements.

Once it was time to leave, I thought about how we all grow up, get jobs, start a family, and think we are too old.  We forget that we can still have the kid in us come out and play once and awhile.  Let it be with friends or maybe at a Blink 182 concert we shouldn’t live serious all the time.  Blink 182 was the band that taught me that, and even though I am getting older, in school for my MBA, and have a full time job, like Blink 182, I haven’t lost the kid in me.

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