Blink and Blondie Punk Up Coachella: When the set times for Coachella were made public on Wednesday night, the big surprise was the inclusion of ’90s pop-punkers Blink 182 on the bill. There had been a few rumors during the week but still, their name on the schedule early on Friday evening offered quite the buzz.
Casual observers could be forgiven for wondering if anyone would care. In no way, shape or form is Coachella 2023 a rock festival. Pop, hip-hop and electronic music of many shades, sure. But the previously announced bill — all three days — features very little in the way of hard rock and/or punk, and the crowd is a young one.
But the thing with the modern Coachella crowd is that genres mean very little. Or at least, that’s what it feels like. To their immense credit, these attendees just want to have a great time and they’re not interested in “Breakfast Club-ing” themselves into a pigeon-hole.
Blink performed on the Sahara stage, which is immediately a bit weird because that’s usually home to DJ’s/producers. It’s a tented stage but it’s a big one. Still, as set time approached, the crowd was well outside of the canvas. The people were clearly psyched.
The fact that guitarist/vocalist Tom DeLonge is back in the band helped. Matt Skiba of the Alkaline Trio had kept DeLonge’s spot warm for a few years, and he did a fine job (the Alkaline Trio is a great band) but even Skiba would admit that it just wasn’t the same.
But now the gang is back together, cracking gloriously dumb jokes (about, among other things, getting UTIs on the campsite) like they never left. “DAD’s BACK,” yelled bassist/vocalist Mark Hoppus, clearly thrilled to be back alongside his old pal.
They took to the stage to the theme from 2001: A Space Oddysey, a hilariously bombastic way to announce their arrival that climaxed with DeLonge flipping the crowd the bird. Perfect. They played everything you’d want to hear them play, including “The Rock Show,” “What’s My Age Again?” and “All the Small Things.” The gathered masses sang every word, highlighting what was a triumphant return.
That said, Blink 182 were still only the second best punk band at Coachella on Friday, because iconic New Yorkers Blondie were also there. And nobody steals Debbie Harry’s thunder.
Original Sex Pistol Glen Matlock is a current Blondie member, and it was great to see him strutting his stuff up there on the Mojave Stage. Meanwhile, Chic man Nile Rogers was the surprise guest for a couple of songs including “Rapture” (and if you’re wondering if Debbie was ready to rap in front of a Coachella crowd — she sure was).
Again, this crowd knew every word to the opening “One Way Or Another,” and “Hanging on the Telephone,” and “Call Me” and “The Tide is High.” Not so much later-era track “Maria,” but that’s still a great song. “Heart of Glass” and “Dreaming” ended the set in style, the effortlessly cool Debbie Harry proving that she’s the queen of any festival that she’s at.
Special mention goes to Soul Glo, a punk band at the other end of their career to Blondie and even Blink, but they were also the only band we saw start a circle pit at Coachella this year. Heavy as hell and brimming with intense energy, that’s a group worth keeping an eye on.
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