So this is how the music industry works in the 21st Century: Without a hint of radio support, Angels and Airwaves (AVA) with opening act Say Anything got 1,500 faithful fans to show up for a Rock & Roll show here in Cincinnati.
Thank you, Mr. Internet.
About a half a dozen songs into their set at Bogart's Sunday, AVA frontman Tom DeLonge complimented the crowd on being hip and savvy enough to show up at “the biggest secret in your town.” The crowd was mostly college-age kids, with a few junior high/high school kids, like my daughter, and a couple of old folks like me. Everyone seemed to know what time it was, as the young folks (used to) say, singing along to almost every song by both bands.
To bring some folks up to speed: AVA released their latest album LOVE sans a record label. Thanks to corporate underwriting, fans can download it for free. And it was essentially the use of that technology that put butts in the seats this past Sunday at Bogart’s. Of course Bogart’s doesn’t have many actual seats, but you understand.
Ironically, Say Anything vocalist Max Bemis asked the crowd if anyone owned any of the band's “records.” In fact, the group had some vinyl long-players for sale at the merch stand along with their CDs and shirts. The audience responded enthusiastically to the inquiry, as well as to the rest of the band’s set.
Dressed in white shirts and black pants, the L.A.-based quintet proved to be a swell, albeit vulgar bunch of boys. Hitting on crowd-pleasing numbers “Hate Everyone,” “No Soul” and “Everyone Man Has a Molly,” they got the evening off to a rollicking start.
After Say Anything left, AVA took 45 minutes to hit the stage. It didn’t take much air out of the tires, though, as the crowd surged forward after the first few notes of the set. The first thing you notice about lead singer Tom DeLonge is how much less whiny he sounds live. Sure, it’s his trademark sound, but his voice is actually a lot better in person.
About half of the set was from LOVE, arguably their best effort to date. Though only out for about two months, fans pumped their fists and crowd surfed enthusiastically to songs like “Young London,” “Hallucinations” and “Epic Holiday,” as much as they did to faves like “It Hurts” and “The War.”
Having a fan base that digs back into DeLonge’s previous band, blink-182, as well as his AVA bandmates’ work in The Offspring, Rocket from the Crypt and 30 Seconds to Mars, certainly helped. AVA, however, are on firm footing in the 21st century simply on their own merits.
(Photo by Megan Violetta)