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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