A Friday night at the Skyway Theatre typically brings the promise of excitement and chaos of the best variety. This time around, that still holds true as fans wait eagerly for the doors to open. Tonight’s big act: Angels & Airwaves, promoting the recent release of their newest album, Lifeforms.
Though the topic may be tiresome, I can’t go without mentioning that this is my first show back in the Twin Cities post-lockdown, and it feels surreal. As I stand in line, I wonder how many others here are experiencing the same thing.
As we pour into the venue, it’s a sigh of relief, not only as a response to ending the wait, but also reinforcement in the idea that live music has finally returned.
A Great Performance Out of 1990nowhere!
Though they were established in 2018, I hadn’t heard of this group until this tour announcement, and to be honest, even in preparation for the show, I found it difficult to dig up a lot of information about them. It looks like I was going into this one blind with high hopes, considering what I did know.
When they take to the stage, I’m not disappointed. Their sound is very “feel-good 90s college hang-out”, which is an absolute vibe, but admittedly what I’m most drawn to is their stage presence.
The interactions between members are playful and genuine – it is clear they’re enjoying themselves as they perform with full smiles and plenty of concert gimmicks (You know, shredding guitars while on their knees, the classic crowd-pleaser.).
They play about five or six songs which all sound great – the mix is just right this evening. Out of all the songs they chose, the best part of the set is easily when they break into Picasso, a song with the dirtiest bass-line I’ve heard in my life. And let me tell you, their bassist knows it.
All in all, an enjoyable performance from 1990nowhere, and a great start to the night.
Bad Luck for Bad Suns
Bad Suns are set to play next, one of my favorites on the lineup. If 1990nowhere is a “90’s college hang out”, then Bad Suns are the melodic embodiment of driving with the windows down on a summer day.
Though they currently only have three albums, their discography feels much larger, because they don’t create records comprised of the overused formula of “a few singles and then some filler songs” – each one is well-crafted and well-executed. Because of this, you never really know what to expect to make it onto their setlist.
They begin their set with Daft Pretty Boys which excites me, but I immediately sense that the energy in the crowd for the most part does not match the energy from the band.
Unfortunately, this very quickly turns into a “great band, wrong crowd” situation, which is disappointing. It truly pains me when the lineup isn’t well matched, because it can put talented bands at a vast disadvantage with the crowd if the genres don’t align.
Regardless of this, Bad Suns put on a vivacious performance with the same high-energy I know them for.
Of all the songs on their setlist, I’m most excited to hear Heaven Is A Place In My Head. This song has been on repeat for me since its release and it certainly doesn’t disappoint live.
Towards the end of their set they remind us that a new album is coming out soon and that they plan to be back around for a headlining tour thereafter, which I certainly won’t miss. I’m looking forward to seeing them in their element with a crowd that reflects their same energy.
A Euphoric Return
At about quarter to ten, the venue blackens and the crowd stirs. Angels & Airwaves are finally set to take the stage. Before we see any members of the band, a few minutes are spent setting the scene, with a buzzing instrumental playing faintly in the background as the lights on stage begin to blink on.
Soon the band makes an energetic entrance and the set kicks off with Kiss & Tell – one of my personal favorites from the new album. I am in awe of how this song is so well-crafted and versatile, as it is both the perfect closer to the record, but also somehow the perfect opener for a show.
I’m not sure why I envisioned Angels & Airwaves as a band that wouldn’t have much personality in their stage presence, but I’m instantly (and thankfully) proven wrong. The band is filled with effervescent performers and are truly a joy to watch.
They sound good too – like really, really good. Between photos, I take a few moments to truly absorb what I’m witnessing and appreciate the details. Things like the perfect harmony, fitting lighting, or a well-timed dance move.
In the previous weeks, I had made a few posts on social media advertising this show, and in that came several responses that made me realize just how many people know and love this band. Be it a result of branching off as a Blink-182 fan, hearing their songs featured on One Tree Hill, or just reveling in the “scene days”, it’s clear that Angels & Airwaves has incredible reach.
This holds true as I look around the venue to see all of the fans there with me. There a men several decades older than I am, groups of college kids, parents with their small children (some of which were some of the most excited fans in the room) – the list goes on.
When you’re a band with a larger discography and a broad fanbase, it can become difficult to create setlists that adhere to the expectations of everyone in the crowd. But for Angels & Airwaves, this was not a problem.
I had the pleasure of speaking with drummer, Ilan Rubin, in an interview prior to the show. Despite Rubin voicing difficulty in including older songs in setlists, I am pleased to hear many of my old favorites throughout the night, including Everything’s Magic and Rite of Spring. (We did not discuss the matter at all, but I’ll continue on believing that my conversation with him prior to the concert gave me some setlist curation leverage.). To any other older fans reading this, you’re welcome!
The night is filled with a healthy mix of new and old, and fans are pleased to hear some of their favorite songs. I even catch a few people high-fiving their friends with enthusiasm each time they hear the opening notes to a song they love. It’s wholesome, and a simple reminder of how much Angel & Airwaves truly has made their mark on those in the room.
Aside from the killer setlist, the night of course is not without the classic Tom DeLonge banter between just about every song. If you need an idea as to what that entails, part of this includes a marketing pitch for branded items that rhyme with “DeLonge”, the rest, I’ll leave to your imagination.
All too soon, the set comes to a close with Heaven, a great song, though I couldn’t help but notice the irony in closing a show with lyrics that beg you to stay.
Please stay, don’t go. I got you now.Heaven – Angels & Airwaves
It’s a bittersweet end as the band plays their final notes, says their goodbyes and exits the stage. But behind them they leave an overwhelming feeling of gratitude and rejuvenation that fills the venue thereafter.
Overall, a great night and an exciting “welcome back” to the Minnesota music scene for many!
Angels & Airwaves Setlist:
Kiss & Tell
Rite of Spring