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Bob McPhail 8:30 a.m., Aug. 17
Having seen Angels & Airwaves twice before, including once at the Belly Up, I had expectations of dramatic lighting, fog machines, and a phantom musician. I was not disappointed. The aforementioned phantom was ever present in the form of a lighted stack of electronics, churning out an ethereal soundscape, a backdrop to the black-donned foursome.
AVA has replaced its drummer with accomplished musician Ilan Rubin. Rubin, 23, is mop-headed and immensely talented, one might even say overqualified. Truth told, he stole the show, not with his drumming, but his classical piano noodling pre-encore.
Frontman Tom DeLonge told the crowd that he almost canceled the show due to illness but followed through despite. Perhaps having to drive only nine minutes from his Rancho Santa Fe home was motivation enough to play the gig. Not sure. Unfortunately, his vocals suffered for his diligence. Off-key most of the night, his best rendition was the Box Car Racer tune “There Is,” which he dedicated to his wife Jennifer.
With their overpriced T-shirts, high-tech laser lights, and sell-out crowd, AVA seemed cramped in the Quonset hut that is the Belly Up. AVA is heavenly, and they seem to think so, too. Despite the ego, the band delivers a sound reminiscent‚ to me anyway‚ of the futuristic scene from Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure, with an angelic rock chorus bringing peace and happiness to all mankind. In no way am I insinuating that AVA has that kind of power. But, at the very least, they could pass for Bill and Ted’s Wyld Stallyns incarnate.
Concert: Angels & Airwaves
Date: February 1
Venue Belly Up Tavern