Imagine sitting shotgun with your best friend, the sun hitting the windshield of your Honda Civic. The volume knob is turned to all the way up as the set-list you have cultivated for months blasts from the stereo. The wind breezes through your hair as you lean against your open window, watching the world as you pass by forests and rivers on the right. Your throat is raw from the screaming that you’ve done while trying to sing along to your favorite artists, goofing around with your friends in the backseat. With the open expanse of the highway sprawled in front of you, you feel the way you always dreamed you would: liberated.
My original plan was to speak about the new Blink-182 CD, California, or the epic concert featuring Blink-182, All Time Low, and A Day To Remember, that was the destination of the wondrous road-trip depicted above. What I treasured most about the trip, however, was the destination itself. I always dreamed of taking a road-trip, feeling the wind blow into the car as friends surround me, the euphoric recklessness that drives us until the late hours past midnight. Then, I realized, perhaps this was the theme to Blink’s new CD after-all, and the overall tour.
The theme of Blink-182’s new CD, California, is growing up. The perfect song to emphasize this point is “San Diego.” “Sometimes I wonder where our lives go / and question who we used to be / …I can’t sleep ‘cause what if I dream / Of going back to San Diego / We bought a one way ticket / So we could see The Cure / And listen to our favorite songs in the parking lot / And think of every person I ever lost in San Diego / Can’t go back to San Diego.” Through these lyrics, Mark Hoppus paints a picture of a memory everyone can relate to: a hometown. He tells a story of growing up while listening to music, and wishing to run away to where the music led him, leaving home in the process and everyone he loved who he left behind. It’s these moments he remembers, of singing songs in the parking lot with a bunch of his friends, that he highlights as the most important.
Even All Time Low, the band that opened for Blink-182, saw this event as far more than a simple concert. Guitarist Jack Barakat claims that his first concert was Blink at Hershey Park in 2002, when he was only thirteen years old. During this 2016 tour, one of their stops was Hershey Park itself, where Barakat was able to experience playing the stage, opening for the first band he ever saw at the same exact venue. In an Alternative Press article where Barakat recalls that very special night, he states, “I think about that night every time I walk on stage. It’s the reason why we play music…Dreams don’t always come true, I won’t lie and say they do. But when they do, nothing can prepare you for how great it is.” The tour with Blink-182 was far more than a gig to Barakat—it was a fulfillment of his lifelong dream. It was his ability to stop, take a step back, realize how far he had come, and revel in the fact that he was now friends with the guys he viewed as idols growing up. “Needless to say, hanging out with your idols is nuts.”
Something else that resonated with Barakat was remembering his best friend who he went to the concert with. “I went to the show with my buddy John, who I started playing music with. He is also the man I attribute to helping me start a band—without him, there would be no All Time Low…We went as bandmates but mostly we went as best friends.” His best friend was standing right beside him when he saw his idols, and he remembered every moment of it, especially turning to his best friend with his wide-eyed dreamy optimism, inspired to begin a band of his own. “It was the moment I remember looking at my drummer/best friend John and saying, ‘This is what we need to do…’” I remember the first concert I went to enabled me to realize that I wanted to write words that inspired people, just like my favorite band had; and I remember standing right beside my friend as that epiphany took place.
Granted, I have been to plenty of concerts on my own. But I can tell you that nothing beats the warmth of hugging a friend while belting out your favorite songs, lifting the lighter in the air together, your hands as one in the sky. When asked why she loved the concert so much, my friend and concert-partner Daniela Ceasar explained, “I don’t feel like an outcast. It’s a place where I truly belong and having amazing friends who I never thought would share my music taste…made it so much more enjoyable.”
Mark Hoppus sings on their new album title song “California,” “Beautiful haze of suburbia, living in the perfect weather, spending time inside together, hey here’s to you California.” These moments, spent in each other’s company, are the times that we’ll remember. These are the moments we look back on, and think of our friends who we were with, and the rock music inspiring us to follow our dreams. As Blink 182 puts it in their new song “Kings Of The Weekend,” “Thank G-D for punk rock bands.”