Last Night: Angels and Airwaves at Revolution

Categories: Concert Review

Angels & Airwaves
Tuesday, February 5, 2008
Revolution, Ft. Lauderdale

Better Than: Spending all night trying to figure out why everyone accepts AVA as the abbreviation for Angels & Airwaves.

The Review:

David Glimour and Roger Waters did it. That is, they pursued solo careers after a hugely successful run together as Pink Floyd. Although both artists continue to make it on their own, you can’t deny they were a million times better as a unit. Last night’s teenage crowd at Revolution may be several generations away from caring much about Pink Floyd’s split, but rest assured they can still relate.

The big Blink-182 split of 2005 is this scene’s personal band breakup tragedy. Mark Hoppus and Travis Barker ventured out to form +44, a very Blink-like pop-punk group, while Tom DeLonge started Angels & Airwaves, an epic-minded brooding emo band. As with any down and dirty divorce, sides are inevitably taken — and the ones it hurts the most are the kids, er, fans.

From the +44 show I saw last summer, to this packed-but-not-sold-out Angels & Airwaves scene at Revolution, I can’t help but get the impression that all these fans really want is for the three guys to get back together in some kind of Parent Trap-style happy ending. Sure, plenty of merch was bought, lyrics were passionately sung along, crowd surfers plummeted about with enthusiasm –– but quite a lot of tonight’s audience carried glazed-over, empty stares throughout the set. It’s like they came to honor the idea of Tom DeLonge (well, really Blink-182) more than anything else. And, for sure, we were all waiting for something great to happen — anything that would make this feel like a good rock show, the way we felt with Blink. Sadly, that climax never came.

After about the first four songs, the heart-racing thrill of simply seeing DeLonge faded, and the artist continued with, what seemed like, a series of monotonous songs. It sounded like each one was inspired by the next, and not in a good, progressive sense — in a dry, this’ll-do fashion.

As a frontman, DeLonge is vocally strong, but his overall performance lacks something — it’s not exactly easy to say what (Hoppus and Barker would be the easy answer here) — but something is missing. Maybe it’s the fact that DeLonge has just one signature move, arms outstretched à la Jared Leto. Or maybe it’s that he seems so serious with his theatrical poses. He can be engaging for a few songs, but the set just seemed to drag on long after his point had been made — that point being that he is trying too hard to be a really epic, message-driven artist. Either way, the show-stealer tonight was former Offspring drummer Atom Willard, whose speed and precision was far more interesting and impressive than the iconic efforts coming from DeLonge.

The set list wasn’t the problem: DeLonge sprinkled equal parts of hits from his two albums We Don’t Need To Whisper and I-Empire, even tossing in a moody selection from his Box Car Racer days (a project in which current guitarist David Kennedy was also involved). But the cinematic atmosphere of these albums just doesn’t translate the same live.

When the audience joined DeLonge for the repetitious chorus: “It hurts/It hurts/It hurts,” it’s hard to not agree with them. It’s quite painful to see DeLonge out on his own like this, trying so hard, but ultimately turning a live performance into a rather mind-numbing scene. -- Monica Cady

Critic's Notebook

Personal Bias: +44 have more live appeal than AVA.

Random Detail: Angels & Airwaves merch looks like a rip-off of the old school Star Wars movie posters.

By The Way: I-Empire is apparently also being made into a sci-fi film, set to debut in 2008.

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