Blink 182

support Frank Turner + Terrorgruppe + Zebrahead + The Flatliners
author PP date 20/08/14 venue Trab-Arena, Hamburg, GER

It's almost exactly four years ago that yours truly last time stood on the grass field next to the Trab-Arena in Hamburg, a horse racing circuit slightly outside of the city center to the old hansa town, where Blink 182 returned to Europe from a lengthy hiatus. What has since become known as Hamburg Crash Fest, a one day punk rock happening that tends to book a sweet lineup every year (last year they had NOFX and Bad Religion among others), saw the pop punk legends return this year alongside one of the strongest supporting casts we've seen. The Flatliners would open the night to a largely empty field, but by Zebrahead's set the party was well on its way already, and interesting and strong performances from Terrorgruppen and Frank Turner, respectively, meant that the setting was perfect for a triumphant Blink 182 show to come.

Just like last year, you wandered through the gravelly horse racing circuit into a breadth of booths selling merchandise, food, and beer at reasonable prices (at least from a Danish perspective). As is custom to German festivals, once you bought a beer you were bound to hold onto the mug or re-pay the €1 bounty assigned to the plastic cup. Annoying, but environmentally friendly for sure.

The weather conditions weren't exactly ideal this year. Periodic rain/sunshine meant that you'd either feel extremely cold or warm, plus the field turned into something suitable for mud wrestling towards the end of the Terrorgruppe set. Not ones to let the weather affect them, the crowd partied on and sustained an upbeat atmosphere through the night.

The Flatliners

The Flatliners

First up were The Flatliners, one of the premier bands on the Fat Wreck Chords roster right now, an extremely consistent band with three albums worth of gravelly, sing-alongable punk rock anthems that they air tonight. There aren't that many people watching their set at this point, considering they start already at 16:30 when many are still at work. Add to this the fact that when the band asks "who has seen us before?", only a handful raise their arms in response, so the prerequisites for a punk rock party aren't exactly there. That's a shame, because the band play basically a highlight set of some of their best songs today, starting from "Count Your Bruises" and "Carry The Banner" through fantastic new tracks like "Resuscitation Of The Year" and "Sew My Mouth Shut". In between we also hear "Eulogy" and "Monumental", and later a slower track "Tail Feathers", all exemplary showcases of why The Flatliners enjoy such a cult following within the punk rock scene. The band have never been the most active on stage, and as such, their set is dampened somewhat with the lack of a crowd dynamic and stage energy, but those of us who know the band are singing along from the top of our lungs, well aware that the setlist is pretty much nearing perfection for a Flatliners show.

7

Zebrahead

Zebrahead

Zebrahead have got to be one of the best warm up bands on the planet. They need but wave a giant inflatable boat during warm up for people to know what's up, but of course it helps to set the scene with a "AMERICA, FUCK YEAH!" intro from Team America as well blasting at full volume on the speakers. "WHAT'S UP CRASH FEST!? GET YOUR HANDS UP!" shouts vocalist and party orchestrator Ali Tabatabaee, immediately waking up the crowd and getting things going. They have an enormous banner of their new album "Call Your Friends" artwork behind them, depicting a party girl with gigantic jugs just to underline this band is all about the party and less about musical depth, which is pretty much the theme to the whole show. Their upbeat performance is infectiously energetic and gets the crowd circle pitting straight away, and when they bring on stage two German guys dressed in traditional Bavarian Oktoberfest outfits and announce them as 'German drinking guys', the crowd erupts in laughter and cheers that sets the mood for the rest of the night. "These guys are German and they LOVE to drink", Ali shouts, requesting us to sing 'DRINK, DRINK, DRINK' as they down their bottles on stage. "You think they are done? They are GERMANS. They REALLY love to drink.", and they down another bottle while we all sing along. It's hilariously stupid, especially because it is supplemented by the 'German drinking song', which went something along the lines of "Drink my Germans until you have to pee" in its chorus. There's a small bar on stage - but it's not a Tiki bar as in the past, rather than a regular one. Usually they bring a girl and a guy on stage to drink, but this time they accidentally get two guys up. "It's the anal bar. No sex at the bar except for anal sex. That is allowed", as Ali says. Later on, a medley comes out between "Who Let The Dogs Out" and Avril Lavigne's "Girlfriend" with hook lines from both songs mixed into a single Zebrahead style pop punk track. It's ridiculous, but it works. Everyone is bouncing up and down - we even sit down to explode upwards Slipknot style at one point - and the party is definitely on from now on with beer being consumed at an increasing pace. Circle pits never cease during the show.... Zebrahead never disappoint.

8

Terrorgruppe

Terrorgruppe

Next up is a German punk rock band that sing and speak exclusively in German, so us international guests have absolutely no idea what's going on. The locals seem to all have heard of the band, and they take everything out of their relatively high slot on the bill by interacting and chatting seemingly in between every song. There's a pit up front, and the band play with decent energy and many woo-hoo style choruses, but it's a little bit restricted on how much a non native can get out of their set. Their melodic mid tempo punk sounds fairly standard with a few songs echoing Fake Problems while others showcasing Hot Water Music influence as well. There are piano melodies as well so the band are all over the musical landscape. Probably the weirdest event of their whole set was when their lead singer pulls down his pants during a very casual, trombone-driven song, shoves a firework up his ass and lights it on fire. What. The. Actual. Fuck. Later on, they also attach fireworks to their heads and... well, it's pretty weird, and confetti cannon goes off towards the end. Decent, but not that interesting for non-Germans.

Frank Turner

Frank Turner & The Sleeping Souls

Frank Turner's meteoric rise to stardom continues with a coveted support slot for Blink 182. Lots of people have come here knowing full well songs by him and his supporting band The Sleeping Souls, as is evident from the sheer number of people singing along to opening tracks "Photosynthesis" and "Plain Sailing Weather". As usual, Frank's performance is enigmatic and highly animated, meaning he's bursting of energy and the opportunity to sing his songs to an ever bigger audience. He is charming as usual, firing off a few jokes and awkward German statements preceded by "I've been practicing German but I am shit... I have learned German for one song, though", which turns out to be "Eulogy". He has a crew member come on stage to hold the lyrics in German just in case, apparently he earns one Euro every time Frank looks at the lyrics. He survives with looking at the sheet only twice this time around. It's funny - just like when he asks all of us to be the Die Hampelman guy and jump in X shape to "Recovery". Lots of chilled out songs mixed with more punk rockish acoustic songs have many of us singing along, but the overall vibe from the show isn't as intimate and fantastic as on his headline tour earlier this year. That's a given in a festival style setting, but either way, it's a solid performance that keeps us coming back every time Frank is coming around.

Setlist:

  • 1. Photosynthesis
  • 2. Plain Sailing Weather
  • 3. Peggy Sang the Blues
  • 4. Try This at Home
  • 5. The Road
  • 6. Glory Hallelujah
  • 7. The Way I Tend to Be
  • 8. Wessex Boy
  • 9. Eulogy
  • 10. If Ever I Stray
  • 11. Long Live the Queen
  • 12. Recovery
  • 13. I Still Believe
  • 14. Four Simple Words

Blink 182

Blink 182

Four years ago when Blink did their reunion tour the whole show was about reliving those teenager moments both for the crowd and for the band, so the set was packed with toilet humour that felt a little awkward coming from dudes pushing 40 years old. It felt forced, which is probably exactly why they've dropped the attitude for their current tour. It's like day and night between tonight's show and the one four years ago: tonight, they rarely talk to the crowd at all and focus mostly on playing songs in a row with few breaks in between. "Feeling This" opens the show, followed by "What's My Age Again" and "The Rock Show", meaning the crowd erupts immediately into mosh pits, jumping up and down, and singalongs. Tom's singing has gotten a lot better from the awfully off-tune version we heard last time, which helps the songs enormously, but obviously also requires a lot of concentration, so the band aren't as energetic as for example Zebrahead earlier. That said, the band look pressure-free and play their songs in as good manner as is possible 10 years down the line when it's questionable how well songs like "Dumpweed" have stood the test of time.

The slower anthems like "Down" and "I Miss You" drain the show from its energy almost completely, even though the crowd delivers the biggest sing alongs for these ones. The 'real' classics, that the punk rock fans came to see like "All The Small Things" and "Stay Together For The Kids", are the ones where you can really sense euphoria in the crowd as people sing along from the top of their lungs. But as soon as they air material from "Neighborhoods" in the form of "Up All Night", "Wishing Well", and "Ghost On The Dancefloor" I can't help but think out loud how much weaker these tracks are compared to their back catalogue. Speeding them up Future Idiots style would certainly help. The latter in particular almost nobody is into it, especially when contrasted by "All The Small Things" and "Carousel" straight after.

Blink 182

The band comes on stage one more time afterwards to air "Violence", "Dammit", and "Family Reunion" (the latter two to the preference of old school fans, of course), which are all good choices but where is "Wasting Time" or "Josie"? In general, there's not that much going on stage, and the complete lack of interaction means it's not that interesting overall. Of course, the crowd takes care of it and Blink has enough great songs to keep us all entertained, but the crown of the best show tonight goes indisputably to the infectious performance by Zebrahead earlier.

Setlist:

  • 1. Feeling This
  • 2. What's My Age Again?
  • 3. The Rock Show
  • 4. Up All Night
  • 5. Down
  • 6. I Miss You
  • 7. Dumpweed
  • 8. Wishing Well
  • 9. Always
  • 10. Stay Together for the Kids
  • 11. Asthenia
  • 12. First Date
  • 13. Easy Target
  • 14. All of This
  • 15. Hybrid Moments (Misfits cover)
  • 16. Man Overboard
  • 17. Ghost on the Dancefloor
  • 18. All the Small Things
  • 19. Carousel
  • --Encore:--
  • 20. Violence
  • 21. Dammit
  • 22. Family Reunion

Photos by: Lykke Nielsen

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