Feeling This: A Texas Two-Step with Blink-182

She couldn’t stop sweating. And she was hungry. So after A Day to Remember had finished playing its rousing set, replete with T-shirt guns and flying toilet paper, we thought it might be a good time to step outside to the concourse area and grab pizza, or a pretzel. We chose pizza.

It was barely 9 p.m. The crew had begun to disassemble the stage and set up for the night’s main event. We had time, I told her. Probably half an hour. We shared a personal pizza, four slices, and I gave in and let her have three of them. We ate at a bench while hundreds of fans perused the concessions around us. It was a hot night in Dallas, Texas (surprise!) and we were happy to eat and drink some cold water in a tall plastic cup. She kept repeating she was worried about missing the opening number, but I told her we were fine. We’d make it back in plenty of time.

Then the lights went low and thescreams inside the pavilion crescendoed. My sister looked at me as if she was a member of the McCallister family in the Home Alone movies. So we high-tailed it back to the entrance, because as Travis Barker’s drums kicked in from beyond the walls, suddenly we were missing our favorite band, Blink-182.

My sister Halie and I were never close. Different fathers and an eight-year age difference probably aren’t the best variables when you’re trying to capture the right kind of sibling chemistry. She was loud, I was reserved. She was dramatic, I was unassuming. We both loved watching Rugrats, but it’s no coincidence when I think of Halie as a child, my mind goes straight to her in that white T-shirt with Angelica’s cloying face plastered on the front. While Mom and I enjoyed playing school with her (guess who was the teacher?) and in her Fisher-Price plastic garden, make no mistake: we were her own personal Cynthia dolls.

Fast forward a bunch of years — seven of those spent apart from each other in different houses —  and things finally began to smooth over. I always hoped they would. I always hoped when we both became adults, maturity would inject itself into the veins of all that self-loathing emo culture she and her friends loved to partake in.

Halie moved from our home in L.A. to Texas in 2012. By that time, we had become close(r). Upon visits back to L.A. and late-night Splash Mountain rides at Disneyland, the parenthesis holding that “r” gradually faded. When Blink-182 announced a summer tour this spring, I considered asking her to come out in October for their show at the Forum. Instead, coincidentally, she texted me not soon after with an idea of her own:

Blink is playing on the 29 this month and I’m going.

And then another text:

With or without someone.

She was seeing them at the Gexa Energy Pavilion in Dallas, come hell or high water. I rarely travel, and wasn’t too busy in July, so why not join her? A few weeks later, and we were driving from her place in Granbury to the show. Along the hour drive, she said she remembered playing Nintendo 64 in my room and listening to Blink when she was younger.

That was the summer of 1999. That’s when Blink-182 exploded thanks to the success of the singles off of that year’s Enema of the State, a super polished pop-punk piece of art that stole my heart at 13 years old. They were the first band all of my friends in class could agree on. A year later, I saw them at Universal Studios as an eighth-grade graduation present. My first concert.

So, Blink-182 was mine. Little did I know, through subsequent albums, and even through the group’s breakup in 2005, my sister was also enjoying their music. She mentioned Take of Your Pants and Jacket was her favorite album. When we became Facebook friends, I noticed she liked to post the chorus to “Feeling This” on occasion: Fate fell short this time/your smile fades in the summer.

And that’s where we were Friday night, July 29, scrambling to our seat, freaking out while Barker, Mark Hoppus and newcomer Matt Skiba blasted “Feeling This” from the stage. I was speed walking, but carefully, because I held the cold water. Halie rushed ahead of me, turning back to mouth the chorus: Raise your hand in mine/I’ll leave when I wanna.

Midway through the song, we found our seats again, a few rows back from the pit, and the rest was bliss. We sang every line. Halie snap-chatted a dozen videos of her losing her mind. This was, as she let me know many times prior to the show, one of the biggest moments of her life.

If you had told me in 2005, when the Mark, Tom and Travis Show was no longer, that 11 years later in Dallas I would be sharing this night with my sister, I would have intentionally poured myself a glass of water and done a spit take, then laughed for a good minute.

Hoppus and Skiba played on opposite ends of Barker, who sat raised like a king. Given his placement and his prominent sound in the mix, it almost felt like it was “Travis Barker featuring Hoppus and Skiba.” Not that it mattered. Fans love Barker, and with good reason. Since his inclusion, Blink-182 has become one of the most fun and dynamic bands in the pop-punk scene. Most of that has to do with Barker’s creative percussive talent. Unlike my sister, Take off Your Pants is not my favorite Blink album, but I admit those songs would not be as eminently enjoyable as they are if not played by Barker.

Though fans now lose the entertaining insults and comebacks onstage from Hoppus and Tom Delonge, who is off pursuing every other interest known to man (and to other life forms), it is made up by Skiba’s more competent live guitar playing. His stationary approach allows the riffs on “Dysentery Gary” and “Dumpweed” to be played with album-like accuracy. The Delonge/Skiba trade off is this: less talk, better performance. There’s no right answer for which one a Blink fan prefers.

The show’s closer “Dammit,” finished, and Hoppus rolled himself in the confetti which had been blasted into the air minutes earlier. He stood up and played one last ringing bass note (a C-sharp). Twenty-four songs later, our Blink show was over. Halie was worn out and weary, but the night had been won. She had finally seen her favorite band perform live. If you had told me in 2005, when the Mark, Tom and Travis Show was no longer, that 11 years later in Dallas I would be sharing this night with my sister, I would have intentionally poured myself a glass of water and done a spit take, then laughed for a good minute. But over the last decade, our eight-year difference has shrunk down to where we get each other now, and appreciate each other’s company enough to make a lasting memory.

Now approaching midnight, we drove back to Granbury, but first stopped at our favorite place we enjoy back home, In-N-Out Burger. Here was to California, and Blink-182.

But hey, here’s to Texas, as well. Fate didn’t fall short this time. Not even close.



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