POMONA, California — Tom DeLonge debuted his new band, Angels & Airwaves, on Wednesday, and while there were no fart jokes, there was plenty of rock & roll, heart & soul and even a little Blink & Box Car.
And, to answer the first question Blink-182 fans are dying to know, the singer/guitarist did acknowledge the anomalous breakup of his potty-mouthed former band (see “Blink-182 Announce ’Indefinite Hiatus’ As Breakup Rumors Swirl” ).
“Think about this sh–,” DeLonge told the capacity Glass House crowd near the end of Angels & Airwaves’ hour-long set. “There’s a time in your life where you’re not quite sure where you are. You think everything’s perfect, but it’s not perfect. … Then one day you wake up and you can’t quite picture yourself in the situation you’re in. But the secret is, if you can picture yourself doing anything in life, you can do it. … The last year in my life was a complete change, and I know a lot of you are wondering what happened. I’m not going to tell you, but this song is called ’Restart the Machine.’ ”
DeLonge then tore into the song about moving on and craving change, addressing the Blink situation in the manner he saw fit.
As for those curious fans, since only one Angels song has surfaced, their second question would probably be, what does this new band sound like? And there are a few answers.
DeLonge’s got the kind of voice that if you put a klezmer band behind him, he would sound the same. So it’s certainly Blink-esque but more emo (he even looked the part, with his Izod polo over black long sleeves), industrial and stadium rock.
And with that said about DeLonge’s voice, it was shocking to hear how similar he sounds to Bright Eyes’ Conor Oberst when singing more emotive tunes over tragic melodies.
The songs also had giant choruses that only half-worked for fans hearing them for the first time but could someday have the same sort of profound effect as most of U2’s library.
Wednesday’s show, which featured an opening set from energetic dance punks the Pink Spiders, got off to an odd start when the lights dimmed and the crowd began chanting “A-V-A,” apparently the common interpretation of the band’s logo hanging above the stage. (Since when has V represented “and”?)
The first sounds came from an organ track, setting the tone for a set that featured background tracks on nearly every song. Bursts of Nine Inch Nails-like distortion began interrupting the music, and eventually the band joined in, with DeLonge and guitarist David Kennedy playing an infectious guitar lick.
The song, called “Valkyrie Missile” on the band’s set list, set angst-driven verses against a spacey, echoey chorus, during which DeLonge crooned, “Never say goodbye.”
From there, A&A went seamlessly into “It Hurts,” which sounded like “All the Small Things” if it were a Dashboard Confessional song. Midway through, DeLonge took off his guitar and danced around the stage, spreading his arms and twirling in circles.
The frontman then addressed the crowd, with a statement that mixed both his signature humor and the outright arrogance he’s displayed since announcing his new band (see “Blink’s Tom DeLonge Promises ’The Greatest Rock And Roll Revolution’ “ ).
“There was some gnarly traffic coming up here, and that was bullsh–. I’m gonna write your mayor about that sh–,” DeLonge joked, before changing gears. “The item tonight for you to learn: All that sh– you think about when you come to a show, whether it’s punk or not punk, whether it’s cool or not cool, this is a different thing. I ask for you to do one thing tonight, and that’s to feel as best as you can possibly feel with us. This is our first show.”
Reacting to the giant roar, DeLonge explained the next song, a tool he used a few more times throughout the night.
“This song’s called ’Distraction,’ and I want you to picture yourself sitting in a city, and there’s these planes flying and bombs are dropping and there’s fires all around,” he said. “And you turn to the girl next to you and you say, ’I will be your distraction.’ ”
The song, which could almost replace the Pixies’ “Where Is My Mind?” in the closing scene of “Fight Club,” was as epic as its explanation.
After another Angels tune, “Good Day,” DeLonge promised something special and delivered a few bars from Blink-182’s “Down” that segued into A&A’s first single, “The Adventure.”
“This show is not for poseurs. This is for old-school fans,” DeLonge announced to a widespread cheer after another new one, “A Little Is Enough.” “I need to remember that line. It worked.”
DeLonge then played “There Is,” a “song about being in love” from his side-project Box Car Racer album, halting his singing midway through to let the diehard fans finish out.
“Restart the Machine” and another new one followed, with a more at-ease DeLonge joking in between songs. Before introducing the final number, “War,” which married a Papa Roach riff to an emo backdrop, the singer finally referenced a body part.
“To think I’ve been on the elliptical [training machine] for months,” he joked of his exhaustion. “All it is [doing] is tuning up my butt.”
Angels & Airwaves continue their inaugural tour Friday in Ventura (see “Tom DeLonge Plots First Angels & Airwaves Tour” ). The band’s debut album, We Don’t Need to Whisper, is due May 23.
For more on Tom DeLonge, check out the feature “No More Compromises.”
For more sights and stories from concerts around the country, check out MTV News Tour Reports.