AIR DUBAI @ OGDEN THEATRE | 12/15/12
Within minutes of Air Dubai taking the stage at the Ogden this past Saturday, it became apparent that this Colorado band is beloved by its familiar fans. Maybe it was because some of them used to live down the street, or maybe it was excitement at news that the band had signed a deal with Hopeless Records. Whatever the case, the crowd was hyped and went absolutely crazy for the outfit's songs, old and new alike. Older cuts like "Summer Solstice," "Weekends," "Love in Retrograde," "Anything At All" and "Warm Days," which the crowd sang along with word for word, were received equally as warmly as unreleased songs from Be Calm.
After Tone Loc (!) finished his opening set with "Wild Thing" and pumped up the thin but excited crowd, Air Dubai took the stage and apologized profusely for the delay in its much anticipated record, Be Calm, which was originally due out in November, reassuring us that good things come to those who wait -- and the new material they jumped into after that seemed to bear that out.
The act's lyrics are sometimes surprising because they don't match the pop feel of their beats. The tune "All Day" has a poppy, head-nodding feel to it, but with lines that refer to bath salts and getting blazed, this isn't exactly your average pop song. These lyrics are more than the sum of their profane parts; they feel real, and they stick, thanks in large part to the vocals and delivery. But while the vocals were impressive, the band brought a crap-ton of energy to songs like "Summer Solstice," and although the horns from the album were missing in this version of the song, the band's musicianship has increased dramatically.
Before Air Dubai's excellent hometown set, Tone Loc took the stage to the screams of fawning women. From the first cracked-baritone syllable he uttered ("Check! 1. 2. 1,2...letz do it."), the Ogden was sort of his. Expectations were high...and, wow, was Tone high. The West Coast MC started off his set by revealing that he had just finished smoking some fat blunts, so he would be more sweaty than usual -- this, of course, drove the groupies wild. Tone, all decked out in his Lakers T-shirt and Dodgers cap, started things out slow with a song about (what else?) nymphos. Through the sweat and sunglasses, Tone still captivated the all ages crowd and seriously brought it back old-school.
Loc was energetic and insisted on several occasions that the crowd sing the lyrics so he could record the jams, and really what better song than Sugar Hill Gang's "Rapper's Delight"? Loc's message through "Wild Thing," "Rockaway," "Hey, What's Up," and "Funky Cold Medina" was solid happiness. He preached the word all night, and people listened because when Tone Loc tells you to do something, you listen.
Flashlights and Supervision, the other openers who kicked off the show, both performed sets that were solid, short and sweet. Although their hard thumps were worthy of and seemingly designed to woo the ladies, the crowd was small for their sets and the only person dancing was one drunk girl in the front of the stage who later bought Supervision a shot to which he declared, "Let's all get drunk tonight!"
Personal Bias: Air Dubai is adorable. All of them. From the Tyrese look and soulful voice of Jon Shockness to the Buddy-Holly-looking drummer Nick Spreigl, these guys make you want to love them.
Random Detail: Jon Shockness's mom said she was excited to see Tone Loc and was wearing a wicked-cool Santa hat.
By the Way: The age difference between fans was weirdly but awesomely massive. Perhaps to help ease the inherent uncomfortableness of forty and fifty year olds (no doubt on hand to see Tone Loc) awkwardly trying to dance next to sixteen year olds (there to see Air Dubai), plenty of people in the former category got impressively drunk.