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October 1, 2014

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Photos: Blink-182 — and the Travis Barker Show — at the Cosmopolitan

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Erik Kabik/ErikKabik.com

Blink-182 at the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas’ Boulevard Pool on Friday, Sept. 28, 2012.

Click to enlarge photo

Blink-182 at the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas' Boulevard Pool on Friday, Sept. 28, 2012.

Click to enlarge photo

Blink-182 at the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas' Boulevard Pool on Friday, Sept. 28, 2012.

Click to enlarge photo

Blink-182 at the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas' Boulevard Pool on Friday, Sept. 28, 2012.

Tom DeLonge can’t play anything on his instrument that compares with Travis Barker’s drum fills. That might seem like a harsh criticism of Blink-182’s guitarist -- if it weren’t for the fact that it was DeLonge himself who said it during the second night of back-to-back shows at the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas’ Boulevard Pool.

No offense to DeLonge and bassist Mark Hoppus, but Blink-182 is the Travis Barker Show, and the drummer took every opportunity to stand out Saturday night, from his now-familiar attire (shirtless, tattoo-covered torso and backwards baseball cap) to the flashy drum solo played to a prerecorded DJ track that kicked off the band’s encore.

Whether or not the song dictated it, Barker kept time like he was starring in his own percussive workout video, and he often made up for a very workmanlike set on the part of DeLonge and Hoppus.

Much of the band’s 75-minute set felt like it could serve as the soundtrack to any teen movie made from 1997 to 2003 (indeed, their songs have appeared in “American Pie,” “Can’t Hardly Wait” and “Charlie’s Angels,” to name a few). A friend even joked that he was going to go home and download the band’s songs on Napster, the once-illegal file sharing service from which this writer will have copped to downloading “What’s My Age Again” many moons ago.

There was clearly a nostalgic feeling among the capacity crowd, and the knowing cheers that greeted “I Miss You,” “First Date” and (especially) “All the Small Things” were not so much a reflection of the crowd’s current state of mind as they were a belated thank you from a much younger version of themselves.

Maybe that’s why Blink-182’s onstage antics aren’t that far removed from what they were at the height of their fame, when a little album called “Enema of the State” made them pop-punk darlings at the turn of the millennium. Profanity still holds a place of honor (the lyrics of show-closing “Family Reunion,” unprintable here and in outlets much less reputable, are a testament to that) and in-between song banter is littered with comments that are at best cute and at worst eye-rollingly juvenile.

Consider Hoppus’ opening salvo: “F*ck yeah, Las Vegas! We are Blink-182, and everyone is leaving the club pregnant tonight!” Or DeLonge, to the glow wand-waving masses: “Oh my God, is this a rave? Are you guys on ecstasy?” -- which would’ve been fine had it not devolved into something about Suzanne Somers and her support of bio-identical estrogen. The list goes on.

When the band cut the crap and delivered fun, straight-ahead, supercharged punk rock, the results were encouraging. A midset romp through “Don’t Leave Me,” “Heart’s All Gone” and “Man Overboard” was quintessential Blink-182.

Still, anyone had to admit there was something cathartic about a pool deck of fans singing along in unison to “All the Small Things,” an iconic slice of pop punk then and now. DeLonge and Hoppus may not have the chops to match Barker, but they have some damn catchy songs -- and a fan base that’s more than happy to provide its own fills.

Saturday night’s set list: “Feeling This,” “Up All Night,” “The Rock Show,” “What’s My Age Again,” “Down,” “I Miss You,” “Always,” “Violence,” “After Midnight,” “First Date,” “Don’t Leave Me,” “Heart’s All Gone,” “Man Overboard,” “F*ck a Dog,” “Ghost on the Dance Floor,” “All the Small Things” and “Josie.” Encore: Travis Barker drum solo, “Dammit” and “Family Reunion.”

Jack Houston, editor of Las Vegas Magazine, a Greenspun Media Group publication, downloaded “What’s My Age Again” illegally on Napster many moons ago just like the rest of the once-illegal Napster world.

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