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Angels & Airwaves

A casual fan at best, I wasn’t expecting much from Tom DeLonge and his space-rock crew at the Angels & Airwaves show this weekend (I was mainly going to hang out with friends, and because the ticket was free). What the sold-out crowd of 3,000 got was one of the best live shows I have ever seen (and my job let’s me see over 100 live bands every year).

If, like me, you blew off this post-Blink-182 outfit when they first emerged, here’s five reasons to give them another listen.

5. Authentic. They’re a real band. When Blink broke up, Delonge could have put together an outfit of pop-punkers to churn out power chords to accent lyrics about first dates, broken hearts, and summers spent at Warped Tour. Instead, chose to push his own skills to the next level by bringing in guitarist David Kennedy (Hazen Street, Boxcar Racer), drummer Atom Willard (Rocket from the Crypt, The Offspring), and bassist Matt Watcher (former member of 30 Seconds to Mars, graduate of Berklee School of Music).

4. Encouragement. A&A is a very positive band in a very negative music scene. Tom said the following from stage: “I want you to imagine that you’re going about your life, eating your deep dish pizza and hanging out at Wrigley Field, or whatever it is you do around here, and you see that special someone and fall in love for the very first time. And whether your listening to music or driving in your car, or just chewing gum, you’re overwhelmed with feelings of joy. Now I want you to imagine that you can live every day of your life like that, because every moment we’re alive is a miracle.”

3. On-pitch. Tom can actually sing live. Yeah, I was as surprised as you are.

2. Ambition. From Tom, again: “I can remember being in [Chicago] 15 years ago in the worst snow storm in 80 years, loading my own guitars in through the snow. I had 10 piercings and bleach-blond hair, and punk rock stickers on my guitar. When we started this band three years ago, the easiest thing in te world would have been to put on all black and wear makeup and act like we were sad. But that’s what you do when you’re 20 years old and in a band.

Instead, We decided to put ourselves out there and be who we actually are, and sing about the things that really matter to us. And the hardest part wasn’t deciding what to sing about, but how the music should sound. And the one thing all of us could agree on was that we wanted it to sound like you were flying. We wanted to feel like we were flying.”

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1. Hope. One more from the mouth of Tom (just before the band left the stage) “You can be what you want to b. You can feel however you want to feel. And if you really want to, you really can change the world, if you’ll just do something that’s real.”

Sunday night, I became a die-hard A&A fan, not so much because the music moved me (it did) or because the live show was killer (it was), but because I heard their message…and I know it’s true.

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