In our youth, we find ourselves constantly attacked by a powerful adversary: our emotions. As we age, the number of obstacles we face increases (as does our frustration), so we cope through any outlet we see fit. There are a variety of ways to go about this, but most people choose to turn to music. The alluring comfort that comes with being able to find yourself in a song and letting it wash your troubles away is the reason I listen to music, and is a feeling bands like Blink-182 have mastered the art of creating.
Blink-182 initially formed in Poway, California in 1992, but went into hiatus in 2005 after the departure of guitarist Tom DeLonge. The band rejoined forces in 2009, releasing their sixth album Neighborhoods two years later. However, DeLonge quit once again and was replaced by the band’s current guitarist/vocalist, Matt Skiba. With the recent release of their newest album California, Blink-182 embarked on a long-awaited tour across the country and will be bringing their adolescence-inspired pop-punk anthems to Santa Barbara Bowl Oct. 5.
One would expect the band to have shifted their sound completely after making music for so long and going through several changes, but it is evident how much effort has gone into staying true to the core of their signature sound. California is nearly flawless when it comes to embodying the evolution of Blink-182’s sound, yet highlights the band’s fingerprint in each track, signaling “we’re still the same old band.” It includes angst-filled tales and anthems like “Bored to Death” and “Sober” that parallel with classic songs like “First Date” and “All the Small Things.” However, Blink does not neglect to appeal to the heart in a soulful ode to their home state, titled “California.”
Pop-punk mainstays A Day to Remember and All-American Rejects will both be sharing the stage with Blink-182. All three acts have been in the genre for quite some time, so it is seemingly inevitable to come across one of their songs. If you grew up in the mid-2000s like me, then songs like “I Miss You” and “It Ends Tonight” are included in the soundtrack of your childhood. It goes without saying that if you’re punk and you’re proud, this is a show you will not want to miss.
From its inception in 2012, Día de los Muertos at the Santa Barbara Bowl has been a jubilant and exciting celebration of local culture. Featuring theatre performances, art installations, dance groups, altars to remember our loved ones lost and live music (like last year’s incredible sets by Bomba Esteréo and Chicano Batman), the Day of the Dead celebration seemed perfectly whole, in need of no further improvement.
And then they booked Morrissey.
On Nov. 4, Moz himself will be performing at the Bowl, with support by the Mexican Institute of Sound and Rubén Albarrán. Pay attention on that Friday night, because chances are the streets of Santa Barbara are about to get both a lot more sincere and a little more sexually ambiguous. Here, Morrissey will be kicking off an international tour, immediately following his headlining appearance at Chicago’s Riot Fest. He most recently released the World Peace is None of Your Business LP on Harvest Records, receiving a solid reception from critics and charting highly in both the U.K. and U.S.
The Irish-English indie rock crooner has always had an incredibly strong fan base within the Chicano community, but is that really so strange? Morrissey’s songwriting style in many ways parallels traditional Mexican music genres such as ranchero; both are often intensely personal expressions about love, and they tackle issues of national identity as well. The notion of otherness, of continuously feeling like an outsider, also pervades Morrissey’s work in a way many Mexican-Americans find highly relatable. The sense of split cultural identity is a familiar one, as some immigrants to areas like Southern California may feel like they completely belong neither here nor back in Mexico.
Morrissey’s parents migrated to Manchester from Dublin a year before his birth, and many of his lyrics deal with his sense of identity as an immigrant as well as an Englishman. In the first half of his career, Moz fought against the appropriation and twisting of British identity by Margaret Thatcher and the neoliberal administration in the U.K. of the 1980s. During this time he was the lead singer of indie rock band The Smiths, which some have praised as being the most influential rock group of all time. In his time with The Smiths, Morrissey acted as an anti-pop icon, creating a bookish, quiet persona in stark contrast to the pageantry and glam of other contemporary pop groups. He dressed in cardigans and National Health Service glasses, and wore his celibacy like a badge of honor. He was so uncool that cool stopped looking appealing.
In addition to dozens of other accolades, Morrissey is also regarded as one of the best British lyricists of all time. “I am human and I need to be loved,” “You can pin and mount me like a butterfly,” “Why do I smile at people who I’d much rather kick in the eye?” I could literally do this all day. The crippling sincerity of his words is still unmatched in the musical canon (although Yo La Tengo, Cat Power and others have come close).
Having attended last year, I can attest that Santa Barbara’s Dia de los Muertos celebration is a wild and freakish ride, and sure to be made all the more so by the appearance of the sweet and tender hooligan himself. Do you think about life and death and find that neither of them particularly appeals to you? Well, think about seeing the most morbid man on Earth at a death-themed holiday celebration. It just might.