PNC Bank Arts Center
Holmdel, New Jersey
June 4, 2004
Nothing says summer like an outdoor venue, $7.50 cups of Budweiser and two mohawked drummers. And the college kids and TRL teens who packed Jersey’s PNC Bank Arts Center on this Friday night were primed for hit-filled sets by two of SoCal’s finest party bands. No Doubt kept things bright and fun, prancing in front of a giant screen flashing neon pixelations and juicing New Wave-inspired singles such as “Hey Baby” and “Underneath It All” with extended dance grooves and Gwen Stefani’s good-natured cheerleading. The only down moment came when the band gathered up front on a ministage setup, which came complete with an upright piano and a bathtub in which Stefani lounged while singing the dewyeyed ballad “Bathwater.” After that it was more snap, crackle and pop, as Stefani turned “Don’t Speak” into an amphitheater singalong and offered a fitting mantra for the night in “Hella Good”: “Just keep on dancin’.”
Blink-182 covered more ground by treating the gig like a club show, cranking up the tempos so much that Mark Hoppus and Tom DeLonge had trouble enunciating the lyrics to “Feeling This” and “What’s My Age Again?” DeLonge coaxed all kinds of sloppy noise from his guitar, as he and Hoppus bounced around the stage and spouted butt-stupid banter about weed, Jersey girls and penises. Though the songs from Blink’s most recent record, the stormy, relatively mature Blink-182, didn’t quite fit the party-hearty vibe, they were performed with considerably more polish than the older stuff, as “Violence” and “Asthenia” rang out with emo-esque gravitas. After DeLonge ended “I Miss You” with a long guitar coda, drummer Travis Barker emerged on a riser in the middle of the lawn. Looking suspiciously like Travis Bickle — spike-haired, shirtless and full of fury — Barker launched into a virtuosic drum solo, playing along with snatches of “The Guns of Brixton” and “Hey Ya!” Hoppus introduced “Down” by noting that “during the Seventies, people used to hold up their lighters during slow songs, but that was before most of you were born. So I’d like to ask you to do something more modern.” And 15,000 suburban yoofs responded in kind, waving their lit-up cell phones as dusk descended and the air grew cooler.
This story is from the July 8th, 2004 issue of Rolling Stone.