Ah man, so absolutely great to see these guys again. How can you so badly miss a band youâ€™d only seen play twice before? But I did. It was a balmy day, as late October in Boston goes. The in-store was at this new Newbury Comics store at Faneuil Hall, Tourists from all over, and fine Boston tradition (â€œYou guys have a lot of bricks here in Bostonâ€ â€“ Mikel). About 30 minutes before things were set to begin, the Newbury Comics folks were still figuring out exactly where the band would play, and I knew it would be a low-key, intimate and casual affair. Approximately 50 people crowded into the narrow space, and were treated to a brilliant 10-song set and good-humored banter. Parents who happened to be shopping with their kids watched from the staircase leading up to the 2nd floor. Mikel gazed up at the young kids and declared before they started, â€œwe canâ€™t swear.â€ Sure enough, first up was an unusual â€œcensored versionâ€ of â€œWishing Wellâ€ â€“ â€œYou wanna run away, run away, Just get on the ::bleepinâ€™:: train and leave today.â€
I expected a shortish set, so I was delighted that they performed all but two of the tracks off the album, plus two surprises: â€œThis Losingâ€ and â€œThe Girls In Their Summer Dressesâ€ (based on Irwin Shawâ€™s short story. Both are really lovely songs, and fantastic to hear live and acoustically. Everyone sounded great, and they were having so much fun playing off each other, and enjoying the highly appreciative audience. One of those magical moments. Iâ€™m getting incredibly spoiled with them, because the three shows of theirs Iâ€™ve now had the great pleasure of attending have all been like this. A blissful, happy, dancy, psychedelic blur.
Itâ€™s a rare occasion indeed when a band can appeal across generations, but those little kids were really enjoying the music, and it was fun to watch them. On the other end, my parents, both in their 80â€™s, are also fans, When (hopefully) Airborne gets down to Hartford (they were scheduled to play with The Fratellis â€“ one of the doomed gigs from earlier this month), theyâ€™ll probably be at the show, and no doubt my mom will say something outrageously embarrassing, as only she can do.
Speaking of the age spectrum, there was a middle-aged guy on the stairs who, partway into their set, loudly declared them â€œband of the yearâ€ with the â€œalbum of the year.â€ Mikel, not missing a beat, declared him â€œman of the yearâ€ and said something like â€œthat was $20 well spent.â€
An intimate experience like this is made all the more special by the knowledge that as they get more and more successful, it will be increasingly difficult to play in little places like this. But I donâ€™t think theyâ€™ll ever lose that close connection with their audience, because thatâ€™s just who they are.
A perfect birthday present; couldnâ€™t ask for moreâ€¦. Thanks so much, guys!!
Set List: Wishing Well, This Losing, Papillon, Does This Mean Youâ€™re Moving On?, Sometime Around Midnight, The Girls In Their Summer Dresses, Something New, Happiness Is Overrated, Gasoline, Missy (not necessarily in that order)
â€œThey were fineâ€ â€“ (from my friend Victor, a college radio DJ and music snob, so consider that high praise)
P.S. Off to finish up those tie dye t-shirts and love beads, and to check my passport… Might be a little cold for a tent in Hyde Park?
Photo by Victor Robert Venckus
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