Concert Reviews

Last Night: Angels & Airwaves and Say Anything at the Palladium

Angels & Airwaves, Say Anything
Palladium Ballroom
May 20, 2010

Better than:
staying in and listening to Angels & Airwaves on small computer speakers.   

Angels & Airwaves has never been a vanity project for its singer/guitarist, Tom DeLonge.

While he's back with Blink-182, the band that brought pop-punk to the masses at the end of the last century, he still has time to tour and record with his other band. And, judging by how 85 percent of the Palladium was full before this show even started, signs were good that people were there for the music and not just because of DeLonge's fame.

With a vast array of colors coming from the lights behind them, the band gave plenty of reasons to be excited about their music. Moreover, as heard in many of their songs: It's great to be alive, you're not alone, and love is awesome. (That might sound like something you could say about a Polyphonic Spree show, but this was something different.)

Taking stage just past 9 p.m., the band played almost 90 minutes with songs from their third album, LOVE, at the forefront. Songs like "Young London," "Epic Holiday," "Shove," and "Hallucinations" drew strong responses from the crowd, but so did older songs like "The Adventure" and "Lifeline." Drummer Adam Willard really kept the momentum going with his pumping beats. Bassist/keyboardist Matt Wachter proved to be a vital asset not only with precision playing but also his ability to hit crystal clear backing vocals.  

Walking around a stage set-up like something out of Tron and Blade Runner, DeLonge let the music do most of the talking for the band's 15 songs.

Flubbing a vocal part during "Everything's Magic," DeLonge owned up and addressed the crowd for the first time of the set. With the band taking a break after a handful of songs, Wachter played a keyboard instrumental piece while DeLonge welcomed and thanked the crowd. This ultimately served as an extensive lead-in to a stripped-down version of "Love Like Rockets" from their second album, I-Empire.

Finishing up a two-song encore, DeLonge introduced his bandmates and dropped a few funny lines. But claiming that guitarist Dave Kennedy was a "woman's greatest orgasm" and Wachter was a great proctologist didn't come as too much of shock. C'mon: DeLonge once co-wrote a song called "Dick Lips."

If there were any complaints about the band's set, it would be that DeLonge struggled with pitch at times. This was not rampant, but it wasn't subtle, either. Thankfully, this wasn't an American Idol concert. If anything, as much as the band is into outer space and technology, they definitely kept in mind the things that made them human in the first place.

Earlier in the night, Say Anything took stage and played a pretty straight-forward 40-minute set. Featuring songs from their three albums, maestro Max Bemis proved to be an eye-grabbing frontman. Pushing out every word he sang, it was quite appealing to see a guy actually going for a successful mix of Queen, the Get Up Kids, and Saves the Day. All dressed in white shirts and black slacks, the six-piece felt like a full-fledged band for their 10-song set. Though their set was short, Bemis promised the band would be back touring in the fall, much to a lot of applause.

Critic's Notebook
Personal Bias:
If it weren't for Adam Willard mentioning to me that the band usually takes stage just after 9, I probably would have passed on seeing the show. Waking up at 4 a.m. Monday through Friday for work can be a colossal beating, but it's not when you're still buzzing from a great show the night before.

Random Note: Seen on a car in the parking lot, in the vein of a popular advertisement: "Got Angels and Airwaves?"
By The Way: I saw way more Angels & Airwaves T-shirts than Blink-182 T-shirts in the crowd. And there were no +44 shirts seen anywhere.

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Eric Grubbs is a Dallas-based writer who has published two books, Post: A Look at the Influence of Post-Hardcore 1985-2007 and When We Were the Kids. His writing has been featured in Punk Planet, Popdose, Fort Worth Weekly, The Dentonite and LA Weekly. He supports Manchester City and will never root for Manchester United.
Contact: Eric Grubbs