After having experienced some of the bands that I grew up with live for the first time on the Honda Civic Tour’s date at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center, I quickly realized that both the live sets of My Chemical Romance and Blink-182 held much more value than just nostalgia’s sake.
Matt and Kim were the first group to take the stage, and despite having a “blink-and-you’ll-miss-it” set length, they pumped up the crowd for the main attractions with their sunny brand of indie-pop, unleashing their massive single “Daylight” to the audience’s delight. The band garnered accolades from the rest of the lineup as well, earning a shout-out from Gerard Way and a dedication of new single “Heart’s All Gone” to Kim’s dad (who was at the venue) by Blink-182.
After a quick set change, My Chemical Romance entered the stage following a quick introduction video from “Better Living Industries,” the faux-evil corporation from their post-apocalyptic concept album Danger Days: the True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys. The band immediately launched into a spirited take on “Na Na Na” to open a Danger Day-heavy setlist.
Keeping longtime fans thrilled by playing “I’m Not Okay (I Promise)” and “Give ‘Em Hell, Kid,” Gerard Way and company tackled mostly songs from The Black Parade, including a haunting rendition of “Mama” and closing with “Cancer,” and Danger Days, pumping the crowd up with “Planetary (GO!)” and getting the audience to wave their camera phones in the air along with the beat to “The Kids From Yesterday.”
While the stage technicians tinkered in preparation for the last act of the night, a nervous buzz of energy hummed in the crowd. What songs would Blink play? Would they debut anything from Neighborhoods? How many old songs would they keep in their set?
All doubts were cast aside when Mark, Tom, and Travis came out swinging with “Feeling This,” bringing the energy in the audience to a fever pitch and never looking back. Despite playing four tracks from their upcoming release, the set was comprised mainly of older songs and inappropriate humor and banter. The harmonies between Mark and Tom were as crisp and clean as ever, and Travis showed off his chops behind the kit during the encore by performing solo to “Can a Drummer Get Some.”
And except for perhaps “Adam’s Song,” Blink-182 did their best to play most of their fan favorites, including an unlikely live version of “Violence” and closing their encore with the highly profane “Family Reunion.” Even with a general admission ticket on the lawn, the entire outdoor venue transformed into an impromptu pit for Blink’s biggest singles, especially during “What’s My Age Again” and “All the Small Things.”
Blink hasn’t lost a single step since last headlining the Honda Civic Tour in 2001, and My Chemical Romance and Matt and Kim proved that they’re no slouches when it comes to energetic live performances either. With a strong showing from all three groups, nostalgia value and current prowess walked hand in hand for the entire show.