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Pearls Before Swine: The Airborne Toxic Event (re)Visits Pianos and The Mercury Lounge (5/2-5/3/11)

The Mercury Lounge

It is an odd paradox. The Airborne Toxic Event’s audience is getting larger, the hardcore fans more rabid, so many are now singing their praises; and yet, people seem to be actually hearing them less.

At the tiny Pianos on NYC’s Lower East Side last Monday night, Mikel tried to joke about the situation – “Oh, I see the bar’s open… well, it wouldn’t be an Airborne show..”, but it had to suck for them. Eight days in to a 15-day-straight run of shows before a single day off, they were all visibly exhausted, and Mikel had observed a 24-hour “vocal silence” of no talking before the show, in order to preserve his voice. The setlist was drastically altered in favor of quieter ballads instead of vocal chord-straining all-out rockers, and that – along with sweet, sentimental introductions in between every song – should have made this an unusual and very special time for their most loyal fans. There were stories of the early days before Airborne – Mikel’s upstairs neighbor banging on the floor to get him to stop playing, and of previous band members saying “your band’s never going to make it.” Of dragging a broken amp down Ludlow Street, and thanking Pianos for “giving them a shot.” About their first single, “Girls In Their Summer Dresses,” and the tiny label that released it, Square Records. Of all the support they’ve received, the many letters, and the connection with their audience. It should have been an evening of beautiful music and shared experience. Except that the cast of Jersey Shore was in attendance that night.

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Rademacher Mini-tour of the Midwest (right now!)


Rademacher – Upcoming Shows
Sep 25 2009 ~ 9:00P ~ Public Space One ~ Iowa City, Iowa
Sep 27 2009 ~ 9:00P ~ Replay Lounge ~ Lawrence, Kansas
Sep 28 2009 ~ 9:00P ~ Schubas ~ Chicago, Illinois

I’m late out of the gate with this reminder, and perhaps it’s because I was sad to learn that the awesome indie band out of Fresno, Rademacher, would not be making it all the way to the East Coast on this current “mini-tour” of theirs. But just now I realized, well, duh, you should still mention the shows they are doing, and maybe get a few people out to see them. They happen to be right around the places The Airborne Toxic Event are performing, albeit a day earlier, and I’ll venture a guess that Airborne fans will love Rademacher as well, as they come out of that same incredibly fertile Silverlake scene, with wonderfully literate and heartstring-pulling music. They joined Airborne on the West Coast leg of their last tour earlier in the year (along with The Henry Clay People).

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The Airborne Toxic Event w/The Calder Quartet at the Bowery Ballroom, NYC, March 11, 2009

“I catch a cab outside on 7th Street and the cars fly by through the Bowery…”

The Bowery & Delancey Street, New York City

The Bowery & Delancey Street, New York City

The Bowery Ballroom

The Bowery Ballroom

I knew this would be a special evening, even without the full moon.

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Boston Love Fest: The Airborne Toxic Event at the Paradise Rock Club, March 7, 2009

I’m not sure if it was because it’s been such a long, cold, snowy and icy winter; or because things have been rather stressful for me lately and I desperately needed to tear loose; or because The Airborne Toxic Event are the best band in the world… but in my not-so-objective opinion, Saturday night’s show at the Paradise Rock Club was transcendental. Bands have good nights and not-so-good nights, TATE being no exception I’m sure, but ultimately, I think, it’s up to the audience whether or not a particular performance reaches the level of religious experience. And this audience was off the charts. On only a few occasions during my concert-going lifetime has the vibe of a place been so high that it’s given me chills, and this was one of those times.

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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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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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The Airborne Toxic Event Live at Knott’s Berry Farm, Toys for Tots Toy Drive, December 14, 2008

[Warning: the following contains gushing praise & fangirl adoration, so if you’re allergic to that sort of thing, you might want to bail now…]

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Thank You, Thank You!! An Evening with The Airborne Toxic Event & Franz Ferdinand at the Orpheum Theatre in Boston

You might want to strap yourself down for my review of The Airborne Toxic Event at Boston’s Orpheum Theatre. The band was absolutely on fire last night. Daren, Noah, Steven, Mikel and Anna — you guys f*cking rock! Driven into a frenzy by Mikel, who… well, I don’t know what happened over there in the UK (maybe it’s something in the water?), but there was something just slightly unhinged about him that seemed to take things to an even higher level of emotional passion. Ok, I’ll admit maybe it was me who was unhinged by the opportunity of seeing my favorite band live once again, but those are my personal observations.

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The Airborne Toxic Event @ Newbury Comics in Boston – 10/25/08

The Airborne Toxic Event @ Newbury Comics in Boston

Ah man, so absolutely great to see these guys again. How can you so badly miss a band you’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 (“You guys have a lot of bricks here in Boston” – 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, “we can’t swear.” Sure enough, first up was an unusual “censored version” of “Wishing Well” – “You wanna run away, run away, Just get on the ::bleepin’:: train and leave today.”

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