“So many UTIs about to happen this weekend”, Mark Hoppus co-lead vocalist and bassist of Blink-182 jokes to the crowd flooding under Coachella’s massive Sahara tent on Friday night (April 14). “Every grocery store in miles is totally sold-out of cranberry juice” he bets with a laugh. Just two days ago, right before the desert festival’s official 2023 kick-off, the pop-punk instigators announced that their original line-up of Hoppus, drummer Travis Barker and co-vocalist and guitarist Tom DeLonge would be taking the stage for the first time since 2014 at the desert fest.
They were initially scheduled to debut their reunited line-up last month, but those plans were postponed after Barker suffered repeated injuries to a finger. In the gap between their last gig and now, they’ve been dealt hands many wouldn’t be able to come back from, including DeLonge leaving the group, Barker’s health flare-ups and injuries, and Hoppus’ journey from being diagnosed with cancer, then announcing he’s officially “cancer free”. It’s the kind of flurry of life challenges that would land anyone with a heavy psyche, but on stage for the first time in years, the band is giddy, making dirty jokes and happy to be playing to a Southern California crowd. Here are the top highlights from their set.
Tom and Mark laughing at each other’s jokes
Not only are Blink-182 back, but the banter between Hoppus and DeLonge is back too. Even Barker, who rarely steps up to the mic, gives the crowd a shout-out, something they agree is only happening because they’re in SoCal. The visuals seem to be in on the joke too, with the words “crappy punk vibes” scrolling across the screen at one moment.
The band bring all of their potty-mouthed prowess to the stage as well, with Hoppus making multiple jokes about “your mom” and Hoppus going on for a fair bit about “balls”. At other points, they tell the crowd that they’re “disappointments to their parents” thanks to the amount of marijuana smoke filling the air, adding that they are “calling the cops.”
The fan sing-a-long to ‘Miss You’
With the screens dimming and only cell phone lights shining, the band give a soulful rendition of ‘I Miss You’ with the help of the thousands of fans who came to their set. In a heartfelt moment, as DeLonge sings “Where are you? And I’m so sorry” the crowd finishes his lyrics, shouting “Where are you and I’m so sorry” back at him and copying his vocals. After nearly a decade away, the moment felt poignant during a set that was otherwise filled with jokes.
The litany of pop-punk hits
Blink-182’s Coachella set was all killer and no filler, launching off with ‘Family Reunion’, and letting out a litany of hits from there. Though they add their recent release ‘Edging’ to the set list, they lean into their back catalogue with ‘Anthem Pt. 2’, ‘Feeling This’, ‘What’s My Age Again?’ and ‘The Rock Show’. One of the loudest and most energetic moments of the night comes when the band plays ‘All The Small Things’ with Hoppus warning fans of what they’re about to play by joking, “You may know this song from the Alvin And The Chipmunks film”.
Watching Blink-182 defy the odds in real-time
Blink-182’s surprise set at Coachella shouldn’t have happened, and not just because bands are often bad at keeping surprises under wraps from fans. Not many bands can say they’re still making music three decades after they came together, and even fewer can say they still have their original line-up. But Blink are pop-punk survivors for more reasons than just the decades they’ve made music. Band breakups and makeups, cancer and even the trauma of surviving a plane crash are the precursors to a show like this. Watching the three friends play their hearts out and smile with one another, it’s clear that both the fans and the band feel lucky to bet here.
The ‘Dammit’ and ‘No Scrubs’ mash-up closing out the set
After regaling everyone with the hits, the band ends the set with ‘Dammit’, and the track about getting older is a perfect closer for a band that most of the crowd has been growing up with for decades. As it nears the end, Hoppus adds in the lyrics of ‘No Scrubs’, pushing the lyrics “I don’t want no scrubs / A scrub is a guy that can get no love from me” up against the lyrics “I guess this is growing up”. It’s a fun and imaginative twist on the song, and fans go wild for it. As the band exits the stage and out towards the rest of their tour, they play TLC’s original track as an outro, and the audience walks out to the rest of the stages of the desert fest with ear-to-ear smiles as they sing along.
Check back at NME all weekend for more reviews, news, interviews, photos and more from Coachella 2023.