I have been a fan of Angels and Airwaves (aka AVA) since I heard their first single “The Adventure.” AVA’s first album We Don’t Need to Whisper came out in 2006, followed up with I-Empire, and they are now on their third album, Love, which is available for free on their home page. AVA is fronted by Tom DeLonge (formerly/currently of Blink-182, Box Car Racer) with David Kennedy (formerly of Box Car Racer), Adam Willard (formerly of Offspring), and Matt Wachter (formerly of 30 Seconds to Mars). To me, it is more than the average alternative music that you hear on the radio. It’s very complex with musical interludes and lots of digital synthesizers used. Songs are usually in the four minute range, but can go over six minutes with all the non-vocal musical interludes used. I became a fan because of the sound that AVA creates, not because of who is in the band.
The concert at the Uptown in Kansas City was my first concert experience with AVA. They have been in KC before, but I did not have a chance to attend. Say Anything was the only opening band.
I knew nothing about Say Anything prior to the concert. It probably would have behooved me to look them up on myspace or something. First off, the band only had about three feet of stage space at the front to work with due to AVA’s stage setup. They looked cramped up there. The band is made up of six guys who, to this 31 year old, look very young. I saw one of them take a swig of a beer, and I thought to myself “Is he old enough?” The band seemed to have quite a following at the concert who knew the words to the songs and got into their set list. I only vaguely recognized one song, “Wow, I Can Get Sexual Too.” The music did not impress me too much. Note to out-of-shape lead singers, please leave on your shirt.
Angels and Airwaves played songs from all three of their albums with more emphasis on their current release, Love. They had a great presence on stage, especially DeLonge. Having never seen him perform before, he likes to move around the stage and really gets into the music he is singing and playing. You can tell that he has passion for what he does. The stage setup had drummer, Adam Willard, set up higher than the rest of the band with two small ramps leading down on either side. The band had three sets of synthesizers/mixers with keyboards, one each for Tom, Matt, and David. At some point in the middle of the set, Tom said hello to Kansas City and said he wanted to slather himself in barbecue sauce. He described AVA as a punk rock band with a positive message. I don’t think AVA is a punk rock band. The rest of the band members did not get introduced until right before the last song of the night. I don’t know if Tom forgot or if this is how it’s done every night. The highlight of the band introductions had to be Tom telling the crowd that David Kennedy had had sex with every girl in the audience whether they knew it or not.
For the Love tour, AVA hired a good lighting designer who has done U2 and The Rolling Stones tours. The problem with that is the lighting was a bit overwhelming for smaller venues. There was a lot of strobe lighting that would probably set off an epileptic attack or (like my friend) a migraine. There were not any warnings about this and my friend had to keep her head down most of the time or block her view with the big head on the guy in front of us. Some of the lighting was very cool and I just wish there was more of that than strobe lights. You can see the lighting in both of the videos that I have posted below.
The set list was pretty good with fifteen songs and lots of non-vocal music in between. The best song of the night had to be “Secret Crowds.” The lights, the song, and the energy of the crowd all came together great for this song. I want to see another show just to see this song played again. I was disappointed to not hear “Call to Arms” which is my favorite AVA song. I found out later that they played it at the sound check where fan club members could attend. The following songs were played at this show: Et Ducit Mundum Per Luce, It Hurts, Young London, Hallucinations, Everything’s Magic, Lifeline, Shove, Start the Machine, The Adventure, The Flight of Apollo, The Moon Atomic, Epic Holiday, Secret Crowds, Breathe, and The War.
Here are two videos I got at the concert. The first one is the opening two songs in their entirety and the second one is clips of the several songs.
I give the Angels and Airwaves 4 “Angel Wings” out of 5.
Say Anything gets 2 “band with a movie name” out of 5.