I have been following Tom Delonge's projects for almost 10 years now. The first time I saw Blink-182 -- with 7 Seconds and Pennywise on the Good Times Tour in 1997 in Asbury park, NJ -- I was hooked. Blink had the SoCal punk style I loved and had elements of NOFX, Strung Out and Ten Foot Pole, bands they toured with at the time. Cheshire Cat will always be one of my favorite albums regardless what you elitists think of it. After Blink released Dude Ranch, I felt they lost the sound I liked as well as bands they toured with, but regardless I have kept up with them.
Fast forward to 2005. After the combustion of Blink, and following John Kerry during his election year, Tom Delonge announced his new project, Angels & Airwaves, after a year-and-a-half in absence of music. When I heard AVA was playing a small show at NYC's Bowery Ballroom with Drive-Thru's I Am the Avalanche, I had to go.
The aforementioned Brooklyn-based outfit took stage in full force. Vinny has one of the greatest stage presences in the scene today, reminding us what we loved about the Movielife. There is no comparing IATA to his previous project; they are simply something different. IATA played the the majority of their album (the same set list as the past few tours) and also threw in a cover of Fugazi's "Waiting Room" rather then the usual Lifetime cover. IATA are destined to blow up soon, with a great stage show and album. At first I wondered why they would be on the bill, but remembering how the Movielife was once related to Geffen through Forty Hour Train Back to Penn as well as being sponsored by Macbeth, and living 10 minuets away, it made sense.
Angels & Airwaves took the set to the huge airplane design backdrop and white ripped flags in the air. Something about Tom did not seem right; he made absolutely no eye contact whatsoever with the audience and band members and there was absolutely no stage banter. He seemed like the Tom Cruise of rock, in his own world. Before going to the show, I'd watched a few AVA shows from this tour on youtube and every word he said to the audience was word for word what he has said before. It was almost like he was a robot; he ranted about being in love, the war in Iraq, and said word for word what he has said in countless interviews and on myspace regarding this project. For example, at one point he said:
"I didn't have a career, I didn't have a band, I didn't have music happening in my life and I was torn apart. I knew I had to make one of two choices. The first choice was to lie around and be sad, thinking back to the times when I was in a big band on top of the world," staring aimlessly into the crowd. This exact quote was on AVA's page.
Later he had a speech about God coming down and curing all terminal illnesses, and making everyone love each other for a day -- and was completely serious. This was the guy who sold 20 million albums from talking about fucking his sister, and doing dogs in the ass. I was wondering if this was all a sick joke.
The backbone of AVA is made up of Ryan Sinn , David Kennedy and Atom Willard. Sinn looked out of place and played solid but forgettable bass-lines. 50% of the time David Kennedy stood swaying with the guitar, as he and Delonge played airy U2-like riffs over pre-sampled tracks in the background. Atom Willard was a great backbone, playing note for note drumming. Musically, AVA was flawless, playing every thing as on the album as recorded. When Tom talked, the rest of the members stood back looking clueless. They know how absurd Tom's speeches were, as well as the 0 interaction between Tom and them taking place.
Tom Delonge's dream to change music with AVA's release will not become a reality. What AVA really is, is an artist wanting to be taking seriously. Tom Delonge realized in his early 30s with a wife and a child he wanted to stop writing about his dick and write respectable music. Hell, the last issue of People Magazine had an article about his wife making baby furniture. The problem is AVA has the exact same fanbase as Blink. No matter what album he writes, he is still going to be Tom Delonge. I can't see my mom or anyone over 16 getting into this. What Blink was to punk rock is what Angels is to modern rock...yes, it has elements of it, but it just isn't completely there.
In overview, the whole performance seemed like an act and it was hard to stomach and take serious what Tom was preaching onstage. In a way, AVA is like Blink. The difference is this time, the jokes are completely serious.
- Valkyrie Missile
- Good Day
- The Adventure
- A Little's Enough
- There Is (Box Car Racer acoustic)
- Not Now
- Start the Machine
- The Gift
- The War