Aftermath has a confession: We're more familiar with Angels & Airwaves' music than we'd care to admit. It's not that AVA isn't a solid group, but we thought we would have outgrown pop-punk by now. However, it seems that Tom DeLonge will always have a special place in our iTunes library, if for no other reason than his involvement with Blink-182, which we grew up listening to - Enema of the State was the first CD we ever bought, actually. Aftermath made our way into the sold-out House of Blues Tuesday night at 8:25 p.m. As we were walking up the steps - OK, we totally took the escalator - a friend of ours gave us a call and asked if we were at the show. We met up with him in the Foundation Room, and at 8:55 returned to the concert hall to take our place with the rest of the photographers up front. As Angels & Airwaves came onto the stage, the crowd went wild. All the young faces in the crowd stared in amazement at what close proximity they were to AVA's founder Tom DeLonge. We even heard one girl scream, "I love you, Tom!" at least five times. She might have been crying, so we made a point not to make eye contact.
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First on the band's set list was "It Hurts," a song about untrustworthy girlfriends with not-so-subtle lyrics - "Your best friend is not your girlfriend." Aftermath couldn't figure out if DeLonge was improvising or if he forgot some of the lyrics. Not just in this song but several, what DeLonge said onstage didn't quite match up with what we heard on the albums. Still, we found ourselves subconsciously mouthing along to at least five. DeLonge just doesn't sound the way he does on his albums when he performs live. It's not that he can't hit the notes (though that is sometimes the case), but the way he slurs his words from one note to another doesn't quite work without all the studio production. We weren't surprised by this though, because we were also at Blink's reunion tour that came through The Woodlands last September. During "Secret Crowds," everyone within 25 feet of the stage began crowd-surfing, or so it looked to us. The energy of the show had reached a crescendo, and DeLonge capitalized on it, turning his microphone to the loyal fans as they sang an entire chorus without him.
After that, the lights went out, and the crowd began to chant, "Encore! Encore!" Aftermath had already seen the set list while we were taking photographs, so we knew another song was coming. And sure enough, the stage lit up again, and the boys had their instruments back in hand. "Houston kicks the shit out of Atlanta!" DeLonge screamed during the band's final song. We understand that bands are supposed to hype up the crowd and that an easy way to do that is touting the city in which the group is performing, but Atlanta? Come on... insult Dallas or San Antonio. What do we care about Atlanta? Right before the last chorus of "The War," the show's last song, DeLonge went on a monologue and told the crowd how happy he was to be in Texas, how much fun he was having on tour and how much the band appreciates everyone listening. According to him, AVA doesn't receive many radio plays and is kind of unknown. This was a surprise to us, but who knows? Maybe only The Buzz plays the band, and every other radio station in the nation ignores them. Aftermath thought the finale was a bit much, but we were still reminded of what kind of music we used to love so much and why. So when we got back to our car, we turned on our iPod, scrolled to Blink-182 and drove home listening to Cheshire Cat.