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Is this year's Honda Civic Tour lineup the best ever? The annual late-summer run sponsored by the car company just announced its 2011 artists and dates, and it's achieved a rare feat -- the acts on the bill are massively crowd-pleasing while still enjoying critical acclaim.
Headliners this time out are Blink-182 and My Chemical Romance, both bands at one time derided unfairly but now firmly part of the pantheon of late-'90s and early-'00s punk-scene success stories.
It's hard to imagine now, but what is now considered one of Blink-182's seminal albums, 1999's Enema of the State, was both loved and reviled upon its release. Unabashedly radio-ready and hooky songs like "What's My Age Again" won hordes of new listeners while shedding others, for whom the songs had gone too pop.
However, it's just this record that hit the ears of then-kids born in the late '80s and early '90s, for whom the bubblegum riffage and helium-inflated singing style left an indelible mark. It could be said that Blink-182 is nearly solely responsible for the current crop of vaguely punk-derived pop-rock acts like All Time Low.
Those acts frequent name-checking of Blink as an influence has opened the recently reunited band to yet another new audience. As such this show may be split between aging new-school punkers who remember the early years of the Warped Tour and young teens who wish they did.
We've gone over the My Chemical Romance story pretty frequently recently, but it bears pointing out the similarities -- though not musical -- the band shares with Blink. The group rose out of the punk underground, achieved massive commercial success in the face of haters, and set off an entire new wave of followers. Now, ten years later, it's still standing, with critics having long ago softened and albums selling as briskly as ever.
Even the third supporting act at the South Florida stop of the tour, Matt & Kim, shares a similar sensibility. The duo's shows were once the territory of mostly crusty DIY types who seemed to want permission to drop the Amebix records and dance to pop music, albeit in a warehouse. But since the group has continued to tour, enjoyed spots in commercials, and even significantly cleaned up its look, it's now too entered the pop world at large.
All that said, this edition of the Honda Civic tour can certainly help quell the scorn that's been heaped on the concerts in the past thanks to its choice of headliners -- Paramore in 2010, Panic! at the Disco in 2008, and Fall Out Boy in 2007. (The tour took a year off in 2009.) Surprisingly, it may just be the thing to unite Generation Y with whatever we're supposed to call what came after it.
The Honda Civic Tour 2011 stops in South Florida on Friday, September 23, at the Cruzan Amphitheatre in West Palm Beach. (The tour's official website erroneously lists the city as Miami; boooo!)
Tickets go on sale June 11; register your email address at civictour.honda.com
for the latest updates.
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