Tom DeLonge is a fascinating dude. Founder or co-founder of three beloved rock bands. Film actor and producer. Children's book author. Accomplished UFO researcher.
The man is very hard to put in a box. The same guy who has briefed the NSA, CIA, and NASA on his research can't help but make penis jokes when he gets on stage. And for a lifelong rock star, he doesn't exactly exude the rock star vibe. DeLonge just turned 44, with the dadbod to prove it. His vocal chops aren't going to please your local church choir lady. His dance moves live somewhere in the space bounded by Eminem shadowboxing around the mic, the Kevin James character in Hitch, and Seth Rogen in – well, just in his everyday life, I would assume.
But none of that seems to matter. Because Tom DeLonge and Angels & Airwaves can rock. And Bogart's got one hell of a show out of the four-man band Sunday night. To the surprise of no one and the delight of everyone in attendance, the group walked onto the stage to the opening track of their debut album, “Valkyrie Missile” (We Don't Need to Whisper). The track is a perfect example of the band's art rock / space rock sound, with a heavy dose of synth organs, big crescendoing guitars, and spacey bells and whistles. It also boldly declares the band's arrival with the repeating line, “Who do we think we are? / We're Angels & Airwaves.”
They followed up with a series of familiar favorites, pausing only briefly for Tom to acknowledge the sold-out crowd and complain about the weather. “We're from San Diego. This is f**king cold,” he said during the evening's snowstorm. Cold or not, the band had a good time, playfully messing with one another throughout the show. DeLonge took multiple breaks between songs to talk up the sexiness of his band, seemingly doing his best to get them some affection from one of the many “beautiful baby birdie babies” in attendance. During one break when DeLonge was explaining the backstory of an upcoming song, the band really threw him off his game by breaking into a jazz riff in the background.
But all kidding aside, the real highlight of the night came when the band played fan favorite “The Adventure.” It was the song I most wanted to hear, and I was clearly not alone. I couldn't fight the goosebumps when the entire crowd sang as one, “I cannot live, I can't breathe / Unless you do this with me.” When the song ended, DeLonge acknowledged the moment in the most DeLonge way possible. After building up with talk of the love in the room and the unity that is created by shared musical experience and the power that has to affect things elsewhere in the universe, he concluded “Somewhere on the other side of the world, some island with f**king tribal people ... just got erections.”
This is classic Tom DeLonge. He searches for extraterrestrial life as a means of uniting humanity, to make us see what we all have in common. With Angels & Airwaves, he creates art with titles like “Everything's Magic” and “Love Like Rockets.” He's also the same guy who gave us albums titled Enema of the State and Take Off Your Pants and Jacket and who revels in the story of telling off a girl who only wanted to sleep with him after he got famous.
Never change, Tom. Never change.
Angels & Airwaves had two opening acts on Sunday. Hardcastle kicked things off, but I arrived right at the tail end of their set and didn't get much sense of their style. But Weathers came on strong and gave me a vibe of Maroon 5 meets My Chemical Romance. They solidified that notion by covering MCR's “Famous Last Words” with energy and skill. Take a listen to their new track “Lonely Vampire.” I highly recommend it.