Angels and Airwaves | 02.28.08

live_angels_sm_to.jpgThe four members of the band sync so well together there is no distinction between what they sound like in the studio and how they play live.






w/Ace Enders, The Color Fred, and Meg & Dia
The Pageant,
St. Louis


"If you’re going to do something, do something great," said Tom Delonge, projecting positivity to the St. Louis crowd gathered at the Pageant last Thursday evening. The sanguine vibe Delonge and his band Angels and Airwaves promoted during their spaced-out set built steadily through the night as it was introduced—and reinforced—by each of the three opening acts.

The night started right off at seven with New Jersey native Ace Enders playing a quick, upbeat set. The crowd showed support for Enders’ previous project, an indie rock band called The Early November, with the same enthusiasm usually reserved for the headlining act. While The Early November may be on an indefinite hiatus, Enders as a solo artist showed no signs of slowing as he powered through the first 20 minutes of the evening, delighting the crowd with pensive lyrics and smooth guitar. His last contribution motivated the crowd to clap overhead and sing along as Enders asked us all to "bring back luh-ove."

A short intermission and the energy level continued to elevate as The Color Fred took the stage. Frontman and founder Fred Mascherino, a former member of Taking Back Sunday, rocked out with confident lyrics and likable beats. The fun-loving spirit of the punk-rock crowd emerged in small bursts of friendly mosh pits, a mellowed-out version of the rock show staple. The Color Fred’s first release, Bend to Break, translated well from the studio to the stage as Mascherino and his backing band performed flawless versions of fan-favorite songs "If I Surrender" and "Get Out."

With the crowd sufficiently warmed-up, Mascherino responded to the heat, removing his jacket to reveal a t-shirt printed with the words "Don’t Hold Back," an appropriate prediction for the zealots on the floor in front of him. After slowing down the set with one last heartfelt strum of his guitar, Mascherino dissolved any self-restraint the audience had left. "There’s a band from California in the building," he said, and the room hit the roof.

Meg & Dia were next on stage, adding a fresh feminine flair to the preceding punk. The Frampton sisters possess obvious talent and proved it with poise and perfection. Their set started with a dazzling rendition of "Monster," the first track on their August 2006 release, Something Real. Meg & Dia are indie artists of the best kind: popular but not common, unique yet still incredibly easy to relate to. Performing as the last act before Angels and Airwaves, Meg & Dia rose to the challenge of capturing the audience’s attention, holding it like experts in the same effortless fashion in which they delivered their set. The sisters closed with "Cardigan Weather" and "Rose," two tracks that boast fluid lyrics and intricate guitar, demonstrating above all their rare ability to pair wit and whimsy.

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And then the big boys came out to play. Angels and Airwaves took charge of the stage in a barrage of smoke, lights and spacey techno beats. The four members of AVA -Delonge, David Kennedy, Atom Willard and Matt Wachter – are more than just another alternative band: They are men with a message. With a modest stage and simple attire, AVA placed the focus exactly where it should be: on the music.

Just like their opening acts, the members of AVA possess enough rock experience to give them immediate depth. Delonge is a prominent punk rock figure and mastermind behind Blink-182 and Boxcar Racer; Kennedy joined Boxcar and also played with Hazen Street; Willard drummed for Offspring; and Wachter is a former member of 30 Seconds to Mars.

AVA’s rock show started with "Call to Arms," a subtle song that carries the group’s outstanding message of personal power. Smoke and soft greens filtered in to create clean black silhouettes in an ethereal limelight, Delonge’s voice projecting into The Pageant from a seemingly distant radio airwave. By the time AVA launched into their third song, "Love Like Rockets," members of the crowd had already gotten into their groove, arms overhead, rock fingers extended.

"Everything’s Magic" reminds us once again why AVA is comprised of professionals: the four members of the band sync so well together there is no distinction between what they sound like in the studio and how they play live. The emphasis on their message continued straight through the middle of AVA’s set as Delonge took the stage solo to perform "Breathe," unadorned and accompanied only by single-bulb flashlights. Syncrocity was the star of the night when Delonge tossed the flashlight to a crew member whose catch was simultaneous with an explosion of purple light and sound. The crowd was ecstatic, but Delonge said it best: "What a great intro; we’re not done rocking yet. My name is Thomas and I come in peace with a band called Angels and Airwaves…"

The "Reckless Abandon" tribute to Blink-182 was well-timed and deft; "Secret Crowds," "The Gift," "Sirens," and "Star of Bethlehem" (all from AVA’s most recent release, I-Empire) had a consistently pervasive sound, filling the venue with constant guitar and drum support as Delonge’s otherworldly voice gave life to lyrics full of inspiration.

Angels and Airwaves promised a show and they delivered in every sense of the word. But here’s why they have staying power: They want it. "We’re totally putting ourselves out there," Delonge said during his goodbye conversation with the crowd. "Thank you for being yourself," he said, "Do anything you want. If you’re going to do something, do something great."

Angels and Airwaves promote an exceptional idea—the power to change the world lies within us—and a soundtrack to match. | Karen Brandt

Photos by Todd Owyoung

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