In a way, going to see The Airborne Toxic Event on Friday night was more like going to see old friends. The band had been many things to me, but most of all they represented the first time we had seriously decided to cover music at Lost in Reviews. Not only were they the first band we had covered from a non-fan perspective, front man Mikel Jollett was my first interview. Because of all these things I’ve always seen the band in a different perspective, they have always been a band I enjoyed and I really liked their first album. When they released their sophomore album All At Once I was excited by the new sound. While I don’t think it was a drastic turn from the self-titled release, I felt like it had a bit more grit and a sharp rock edge. Even with the new record I thought I knew what to expect when walking into the Beaumont Club, I thought I would see the same band that played for a hundred people at the Granada in 2009. To my surprise that did not happen.
It was as if The Airborne Toxic Event had gone to rock school, the music was always there and their performance was always strong. This time around the people were there, the secret was out and Jollett knew exactly how to handle the near capacity crowd. The Airborne Toxic Event was no longer just a band they were rock stars and self-proclaimed professionals, a title that they have every reason to proclaim. Songs like “Gasoline” have never sounded better and felt like they had more meaning. The band was no longer swaying around to an internal feeling; they were pushing that meaning into the crowd through sound, making the fans a part of the song like never before.
This was never more apparent than when the band burst into “The Kids Are Ready to Die.” The song was my personal favorite from the new record but live, it had new meaning. The song was more powerful and had a sound that just couldn’t be captured on record. Blasting right into “Welcome to Your Wedding Day” the songs came together in a way that they don’t on the record. This was only made more apparent by Jollett’s heartfelt words in regard to the controversy surrounding the song and only added more fuel to the fire. Jollett stated that they had taken a lot of heat about the song’s political message in regard to the US predator drone that attacked a wedding in Afghanistan. Jollett went on to say that they were supporting the troops that had returned home by buying everyone with a military ID a drink. It’s kind of sad that we live in a time that a band gets criticized for making such statements, after all isn’t that the real purpose for rock and roll?
Jollet’s political statements didn’t end there as the band broke down their melody as a tribute to all things rock. He dedicated The Clash’s “I Fought the Law” to the Police officers of Occupy Wall Street across the nation. Never to be thought of as any kind of support for the boys in blue The Airborne Toxic Event never dropped a note of the rock classic and rather than playing it for the sake of doing so gave it a meaning that The Clash themselves would support.
Overall the band’s performance was astounding, leaving me with a feeling that I had not had in a while, that feeling you get when you see a band really let go and leave nothing behind. The Airborne Toxic Event is no longer the band that plays “Some Time Around Midnight” in fact; they may be what are missing from the modern day rock ventricular. I don’t know what happened to the band since 2009 but whatever it is I like it and hope that it just grows from here. Because those of us that were there will be sure not to miss another note of an Airborne Toxic Event performance.
By Ryan Davis
Photos By Angela Davis