As The Front Bottoms (★★★★) took to the stage, singer Brian Sella announces “We’re The Front Bottoms and we’re here to get the party started” before the band dive head first in to Skeleton. As the sound of rain fills the AECC and the band play West Virginia, at two songs in it’s apparent The Front Bottoms are giving it all. Drummer Mathew Uychich smashes all hell out of his drums as the crowd sing along with a band that can’t seem to stand still. As different friends from back stage take turns on the sofa that has become a staple on stage of the band’s gigs recently, the New Jersey outfit play a set full of old and new. Fan favourite The Beers, taken from their 2011 self titled LP sits comfortably with newer material such as The Plan. As The Front Bottoms finish their set it seems that they’ve done their job in starting the party. Even when technical difficulties cut out Brian’s mic at vital moments during closer Twin Size Mattress, this doesn’t deter the Aberdeen crowd from singing along.
After a break long enough to tackle the queues at both merch table and food stands, it was time for Frank Turner and The Sleeping Souls (★★★★). Blaring guitars rang out as the band came onstage, something of a surprise to those who only know Frank Turner from his acoustic folk breakthrough. Kicking off the set with Get Better, even with a full band the folk-punk roots show through. And it doesn’t take long for the punk side of the band to take control. As the last notes of The Next Storm ring out, Frank screams at the crowd “We’re at a punk rock show… I want to see a circle pit!” before the band dive head first in to Out of Breath. It’s in these moments between songs that Frank Turner shines. From pulling a fan on stage to play harmonica on Dan’s Song, to begging the crowd to stay and watch a band from California they let tour with them, the crowd work seems just as important as the music. With this in mind Frank Turner turns things to a serious note for a moment as he gives a shout-out to Safe Gigs For Women. After a mass sit down for I Still Believe, the acoustic guitar is ditched in favour for stage diving and crowd surfing. Frank Turner and The Sleeping Souls end the set by introducing the band members, and include Aberdeen as “backing singers and dancers”, to the tune of Four Simple Words.
The final break and change over was upon the AECC as the anticipation for the headliner was building. A floor to ceiling Union Jack with the classic smiley logo was unveiled as the Stranger Things theme filled the arena. Just as quickly as the flag went up, it fell to the sounds of Blink-182’s (★★★★★) Feeling This. With an eruption of pyrotechnics, smoke and the word ‘FUCK’ in flames on screen behind them, the Californian trio hit the chorus and really kicked off tonight’s show. Luckily the huge spectacle distracted from the few bum notes from both Mark Hoppus and Matt Skiba’s vocals. The band make good use of the spectacle though, with graphics of tickets appearing on screen for The Rock Show, and lyric videos playing throughout most of the set. Blink-182 shot through a set of old and new, with very little time in-between songs to crack jokes. Between Travis shouting “FUCK!” at the “mistake” in Cynical, to ending Bored To Death with the California joke track Built This Pool, Blink-182 aren’t as serious as they tried to appear on Neighbourhoods, but they’ve definitely dialled back on the immaturity levels.
Leaving the humour up to the setlist, and not the crowd work, worked in the trio’s favour. It meant when songs such as Down and I Miss You made an appearance, they weren’t book ended by out of place jokes. Blink-182 let the music and stage show speak for itself, with pyros bursting out so often you could feel the heat at the back of the arena. A heavy, emotional outro to Sober – along with older tracks – gave them a new lease of life.
Then the pyro, smoke and screens took a back seat for a moment when Mark Hoppus announced the band were about to play a song that wasn’t on the setlist. With instructions for the Aberdeen crowd to turn on their phone’s flashlights, the screens turned off and stage lights lowered as the band played Family Reunion for the first time on the tour.
As the final nots of Los Angeles played out, the stage turned black and the band made their exit. Just when it seemed the crowd couldn’t take any more waiting, flames erupted on stage and the familiar sound of All The Small Things filled the arena. After the short, but hilarious Brohemian Rhapsody, Blink-182 closed the show with bona fide classic Dammit. Non-stop smoke and fire filled the stage as the band gave it their all for the last song of the set. And with an explosion of confetti to finish the song, the band put the cherry on top of one of the most entertaining rock shows of the year.
As a truly unexpected close to the evening, Travis’ son Landon took to the drums to end the gig with a drum solo as Mark and Matt played along in Donkey Kong masks. As the band left the stage for the last time to the entire arena applauding and cheering, Mark bolted back to his microphone to shout “BYE!”, leaving Aberdeen eager for the next time their favourite band will grace this stage again.