I’m obsessed with Blink 182. Find me a former emo kid that isn’t and I’ll show you a liar. They are my band. No matter what my mood is, they are there to comfort me like a weighted blanket. I’ve seen Blink 182 multiple times now but it’s never been quite right without Tom DeLonge behind the microphone. I know times change and he has moved on (more on that later) but in my heart I knew I had to see this man perform at least once in my life and I finally got that chance on Thursday when he brought his band Angels and Airwaves to First Avenue. To say I was excited and had hyped this show up in my mind would be an understatement and, as I stood there waiting for the show to start, I started to worry that it wouldn’t be everything I wanted.
The Social Animals had the honor of opening up this highly anticipated sold out show. The Duluth-area born band took the stage and powered through a quick thirty minute set that was solid and clean. Sadly, it was clear that the audience (myself included) was just too anxious to see Tom and his band (let’s be honest– it’s him) to take the stage and people seemed to more talk through The Social Animals’ set rather than really listen to it. This was a bummer as I have seen these guys before and know how much talent this group has. If though those around me were talking up a storm at some of the most obnoxious levels, I did pause my conversations with my friends to just stop and listen to the brilliance of this band and it wasn’t lost on me. There’s talent here and this band deserves so much more recognition than they have right now. I’m not sure being on this show will get them there but at least now everyone in the sold out room at least knows their name.
Okay, let’s call out the elephant in the room. Yes, Tom DeLonge is the “moron” who left Blink 182 (arguably the biggest pop-punk band ever) to go chase aliens. No, I’m not kidding — although there are probably nicer ways to put it outside of “go chase aliens”. Essentially, Tom said some stuff that, at first people were highly skeptical of and took to mean that he was off his rocker but recently his thoughts have been validated by NASA and other organizations which has taken away some of the jokes but people seem hard pressed to get over it completely. Regardless of your stand on Tom’s alien theories, there’s no denying that even through all of this drama, he has stayed true to his music and has never really stopped doing it.
Angels & Airwaves was never my favorite offshoot of Blink 182 but they’ve always had a place in my heart. Their music has a very atmospheric vibe about it with lyrics that can be taken a million different ways but somehow make you feel cozy and calm. It was that vibe that I needed in my life and the fact that the band nailed creating that perfect atmosphere definitely put any worry about the show to rest. I instantly lost myself in a cloud of nostalgia and emotions and have yet to shake it. I sang along to the songs that I could and just lost myself during the ones I couldn’t sing along to. I may have fallen off the Angels and Airwaves bandwagon years ago but there were people in the audience that clearly had not and watching those people scream along to every word made me wish I had never stopped obsessing over this band.
The highlight of the show for me was definitely when Tom was left on stage with nothing more than a microphone and acoustic guitar. After some rambling stories that didn’t quite make sense to me but, at the same time, had me laughing my butt off, Tom broke into a medley of a couple Blink 182 songs and a Boxcar Racer track. To say this medley hit me (and clearly the rest of the audience) in the feels would be an understatement. Although the entire show was impressive, this portion was definitely the icing on the cake.
I know I’ve spent majority of this post talking about Tom and I’m not sorry about that but I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the rest of the band. Being in a group with such a figure has to be hard because you never quite get the recognition you deserve but I’ll go ahead and say it, half of the genius of Angels & Airwaves comes from the other members. There were multiple times throughout the eighteen song set where my eyes were focused on the other members even though I was really excited to see Tom perform. From the drummer to the guitarist to the bassist, everyone had a reason to be on the stage and nobody was really left behind or not recognized in some sort of way. From an epic drum solo to a jam session between drums and keys, it was quite clear that although Tom is the main attraction for this band, Angels & Airwaves would be next to nothing without the rest of the band.
I had set Thursday night’s show up for failure by placing it on a pedestal but Angels & Airwaves didn’t let me down. Top 10 show of the year? Quite possibly.