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Concert Review: Blink-182's dirty jokes nearly hide the music

Wednesday, July 18, 2001

By Ed Masley, Post-Gazette Pop Music Critic

It's just as well that Green Day's acting all mature on "Warning." All the small things cool enough to know 'N Sync is kind of lame but still not ready for the politics of Anti-Flag would rather body surf to Blink-182, a more cartoonish, more sophomoric, less punk, more commercial variation on the basic Green Day kid-rock formula.

The title of the trio's latest album says it all. "Take Off Your Pants and Jacket."

Fueled by dirty words and candy-coated hooks while playing to the girls who think they're cuter than a Backstreet Boy with self-effacing songs about how awkward that first date can be, it hit the charts at No. 1 its first week out in June.

And now, the band is on the road -- appearing last night at the Post-Gazette Pavilion -- acting goofy for the kids.

As smile-inducing teen-age kicks go, Kiss itself would be hard-pressed to top the flaming f-word sign that lit the cool night air of Burgettstown as Blink-182 took the stage to the strains of that classical song most people only know because of "2001: A Space Odyssey," then kicked right into "Rock Show," a hard-rocking ode to the one girl for every two boys at the Warped Tour.

And from that point out, the set was a crowd-pleasing blend of pyrotechnics, adrenalized pop-punk tunes and humor fit for "Scary Movie 3."

They traded mom jokes (even dad jokes), talked about their body parts and did their best to drag the gutter down to meet them on their level.

As focused as the show could be on making good on the album's parental advisory sticker, Blink-182 did not forget to set some time aside to rock. Before the night was through, in fact, the mother jokes were nearly overshadowed by musical highlights -- not the least of which were "Anthem Part II," "What's My Age Again?," "First Date," "All the Small Things," "Stay Together For the Kids" and "Dammit."

On occasion, the music and "South Park" humor came together and embraced, as on one tender ballad about having sex with your grandpa.

Some, I'm sure, would argue that the show was worse than reprehensible. But unlike, say, Limp Bizkit, Korn or Eminem, these clowns did it all for the giggles. At a time when so much of teen culture is focused on hate and aggression, last night's show was practically refreshing.

And the goofs can really play. In fact, they're like the Steely Dan of cartoon punk -- but not as dirty and/or dangerous as those old Grammy-winning perverts.

New Found Glory did what warm-up acts are paid to do. They warmed the crowd up. And they did so in a way that left the glory boys of Blink-182 a comfortable margin of error in which to come across as having played a better show. They barely even swore -- although there was some talk of boogers -- in an energetic set of standard-issue pop-punk anthems.

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