musings from boston

screams, whispers and songs from planet earth

Month: January 2009

“Indier than thou”?

An email popped up via my Airborne Toxic Event google alerts this afternoon. The article, from MTV.com, was titled “Exclusive: Rachael Ray Plans Return To South By Southwest” – The Hold Steady and The Airborne Toxic Event being the first two rumoured bands invited to her event. For those of you who don’t know her (that includes me, not being a Food Network viewer, and not being able to cook either, apart from maybe fried eggs and steamed vegetables), she hosts a cooking show, and is apparently quite a celebrity. And an indie music fan. Which should be fine, right? I mean, I like hanging out in skanky clubs listening to bands, and I also enjoy bird watching. But for some reason, she caused quite a stir when last year, she hosted a party at SXSW (that’s South by Southwest for those poor lost souls out there who don’t know, a very popular annual indie music gathering – of all music genres – that takes place in Austin, Texas). I guess it was startling and somehow unacceptable for someone who does something considered “mainstream” to also be interested in something well, not considered mainstream. Whatever. The bands she invited to last year’s soiree were considered respectable by those who had appointed and anointed themselves as qualified judges for us poor huddled clueless masses who obviously don’t know what’s good for us.

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The Airborne Toxic Event begin their headlining tour tonight

In honor of The Airborne Toxic Event beginning their headlining tour today, January 22, 2009 in Norwich, England, I decided to spew out a bunch of links to some of the more “essential” TATE articles, interviews and reviews. And because I saw a request on their newly opened official forum, a list of Mikel’s writings.

Have a wonderful tour, guys, and I’ll see you in March!

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The Airborne Toxic Event on The Late Show with David Letterman, and my gushing praise

Well yes, it’s true, I’m always rolling out the superlatives when talking about this band. However, delivering a searing performance in a hot, sweaty club with devoted fans singing along to every word is a far more natural thing than doing so in front of a seated studio audience where most of the people don’t know who you are, you’re forced to do a truncated version of your signature song due to time constraints, and the pressure is clearly on to capture that audience, as well as the few million others watching on TV, within the 3:43 minutes given to you.

One of the breathtakingly beautiful things about “Sometime Around Midnight” is the slow build of the story, starting with the lush string introduction (they were joined by the tremendously classy Calder Quartet this evening), and continuing on with Mikel’s soft, dreamlike narration. Ever so slowly it builds up steam and angst as his emotions are stirred by the effects of the music of a club band, the wine, and the unexpected appearance of an ex-girlfriend. By the time she bolts from the place with the new boyfriend, the music is surging, the vocals are soaring, and the jilted lover is left to wander those late-night city streets in blind, feverishly obesessed despair. Trying to convey all that in under four minutes is like, to use a literary analogy, having to write a Reader’s Digest version of, oh I don’t know, War and Peace.

And they pulled it off. Not only did they pull it off — they pulled it off in grand style. The flowing narrative of the story was still there, as was the emotional build and rocket ship propulsion into outer space at its conclusion. All still there. I honestly don’t know how… but it was. Which is a real testament to the talent and vision of this extraordinary band.

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Local Natives, The Union Line and Voxhaul Broadcast bring warm, sunny California to the dark and frozen tundra

Better late than never. Work obligations, the oppressive cold bearing down, and all that. But last Sunday, a distant and rapidly fading memory now, I braved the elements (snowy, windy and cold as they were) to see three really great L.A. bands at T.T. The Bear’s Place in Cambridge. And as I so often am at these times that finally inspire me to get my ass off my small island and down from the North Shore into the city, I was cold, lonely and bereft of inspiration, desperately in need of an indie band live music fix. These guys really delivered for me.

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The Airborne Toxic Event: a few video clips from their (awesome) show at Knott’s Berry Farm, Buena Park, CA, Dec. 14, 2008.

I’ve put these up on YouTube, but thought I would post them here as well. What an amazing show, and once again, I’m missing them terribly. I already have my tickets for their upcoming shows in Boston and New York (March 7 & 11), and good thing too, as I’ve been hearing both shows are sold out (or very nearly so).

If you have a chance, definitely see this wonderful band! [I’ll be posting one of those “interactive maps” of their tour soon, but for now, you can view all the dates and ticket info. on their official site.]

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Live in Los Angeles – Four Great Shows* (oh yeah, and a movie)

The Movies @ Spaceland, Dec. 22, 2008

The Movies @ Spaceland, Dec. 22, 2008

[Note that this is culled from a few random scribblings during the shows that I’m trying to decipher now, my fuzzy memory, plus a quick crawl through their MySpace pages. It was the first time I had seen any of these folks, and I was only marginally familiar with some of their music beforehand, so I’m afraid these won’t be terribly intelligent reviews. Nor especially useful in any way. But suffice it to say they were all superb. The one exception may have been “Terrapin,” but that might just be personal preference, since a quick look at their MySpace page tells me they’re quite popular.]

P.S. If you enjoy laughing over other people’s misery, you can read my L.A. trip review.

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Victor & Julie’s not-so-excellent Adventure – Los Angeles, December 2008

View from Mulholland Drive

View from Mulholland Drive

I probably should have realized, as we were sitting on the runway on our United flight from Boston to Los Angeles, and it was announced over the loudspeaker that our pilots were having some problems with the transportation from their hotel, and we would have to wait for them to arrive (obviously), that this was not a good omen for our trip. Over an hour later, we were finally taking off.

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Happy 2009 – and a little Airborne Toxic Event for your evening…

Hello everyone. I’m back in cold, dark and dreary (and currently snowy and windy) Boston from a truly bizarre trip to Los Angeles, sorting through a bunch of photos and video footage. The video will take longer than I originally thought, so for now, I’d like to wish you all a very happy new year and a great 2009, and pass along these photos from The Airborne Toxic Event’s wonderful show at Knott’s Berry Farm on December 14.

A few videos are on the way, once I figure out how to get something bigger than a postage stamp from an older PPC G4 Mac into YouTube and/or this wordpress blog.

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