November 12, 2021 | Concert Review by Jenna Enemy

Most importantly, his famed band Angels and Airwaves just ended their US Tour at SOMA. The thing about AVA is that over the past few years, Angels and Airwaves has done it all. They have put out great music, their music has been featured on the big and little screen. They have even done the late night run and were featured on Kimmel, not too shabby!

This past weekend, they played a little all-ages venue that has grown up with him through the years to become a 3,000 capacity live-music destination. I traveled from my home city of Minneapolis to San Diego and had the privilege to watch this reunion between Tom DeLonge and SOMA. 
Slow burning incense and a warm glowing AVA called out to the packed venue, preparing us for an experience involving all of our senses. First out on the stage was Angels and Airwaves bassist Matt Rubano, followed by drummer Ilan Rubin and guitarist David Kennedy. Unlike Angels and Airwaves shows prior where DeLonge was clearly the focus of the evening, DeLonge darted out with his bandmates onstage almost immediately which set a different tone for this concert. This was now a cohesive group. This was Angels and Airwaves as a whole. They are writing together, performing together, playfully bantering together, and without any star-powered hierarchy. 
AVA at SOMA | PHOTO by Chelsea Oxborough
The early banter between bandmates Rubin and Kennedy was very playful and showed the boyish side of DeLonge we all fell in love with when he first hit the scene. Jokes of “It smells like weed in here” and getting in trouble with faux US government agents from Minnesota because the band is playing a note that’s on too erotic of a scale for human ears. The song in question was “Everything is Magic” and the crowd loved it of course; Minneapolis company throughout the crowd thought it was subtly erotic, but still loved it. 
The band was quirky and although it didn’t quite fit the theme of the show entirely, it was nice to see them break that 4th wall and let us into their playful world a bit. It prepared us for the stronger messages to come.
I think what everyone is going to remember from this night was Tom DeLonge’s candid story detailing the loss of his father and the spiritual growth that came from this loss. He shared a gut-wrenching story about the writing of “The Dreamwalker” EP with drummer Ilan Rubin and how creating that album was important because he was in such a dark place from mourning. He earnestly shared this to a silent but incredibly receptive crowd. “I want you to know that at the end of the day all the shit you go through; like all the pain when you lose somebody close to you… all the pain of the job, of the relationships you went through, family, the abuse that you went through, growing up around a lot of fist fights and people being cruel. You kind of wonder what life is gonna be about and I’m here to tell you that it’s all gonna be okay. Life is a lot more beautiful than you feel on any given day.” He also shed light on the writing process for the song “Tunnels” and how part was written before this experience and a part after. The band went into “Tunnels” as a crowd of over 2,000 people clapped a steady beat together as one.  
AVA at SOMA | PHOTO by Chelsea Oxborough
DeLonge spoke before breaking into Angel and Airwaves song “Rite of Spring;” a song that doesn’t typically make the band’s live setlist. Rite of Spring is a lyrical narrative of DeLonge’s life from a turbulent teenage life and the years that followed after starting a band in his overheated garage. Perhaps the song title is a play on the hardcore bands of the ‘80s and early ‘90s DeLonge admired; like DC Hardcore band Rites of Spring. This song is truly the lifeblood of Angels and Airwaves. It’s DeLonge at his most honest and so completely relatable for anyone who has taken a chance on a dream.
AVA at SOMA | PHOTO by Chelsea Oxborough
The band was incredibly solid and the sound was phenomenal. There was not a bad sightline or sound experience in the room. With his incredibly hard hits and precision accuracy, Ilan Rubin is one of the most entertaining drummers to watch. In past tours, Rubin would come to the front of the stage playing an acoustic guitar. He is quite a talented multi-instrumentalist and I wished we saw more from him on this tour, however, they still had Matt Rubano and David Kennedy splitting their guitar work with synth parts on certain songs. I also enjoyed seeing DeLonge’s guitar from the years with his former band Boxcar Racer make an appearance toward the middle of the set.
Angels and Airwaves is a must see band get the full AVA experience. For all their fans it was a welcome break from their busy lives. Not to mention the nearing end of the pandemic stress and to be reminded of what really is important. This band does a fantastic job of sending a message to us all; even the cynics and sleepy souls to get up and be aware of how beautiful all this really is. Tom DeLonge’s genuine stories affirm that these lessons only come from growth and it’s all gonna be okay.
Up next for AVA is the UK, that is if COVID restrictions don’t pop up and rear it’s ugly head. Nevertheless, lots to look forward to from Angels and Airwaves.
by Chelsea Oxborough


ocmn 2021


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