Friday, April 9, 2010

The Airborne Toxic Event, 4/7/10

On Wednesday night, I saw the Airborne Toxic Event for free at the Royale (which used to be the Roxy, which used to be Epic). Oh man, what a fantastic evening.  The last time ATE played Boston, it was at the House of Blues, which is a much larger venue. But I’m always so impressed with the band’s ability to make any venue seem intimate, no matter what size it is.

Lead singer Mikel Jollett is easily one of my favorite front men to watch. He’s always cracking jokes and interacting with the crowd.  Too often, great live bands put on an amazing performance but don’t say anything to the audience other than to announce the band’s name and to say thank you at the end of the night.  They burn through the setlist and then everyone goes home.  But Jollett is better than that.  Between every song, he’d make fans laugh, by doing things like teasing the girls drinking off by the bar (“Yeah, we’re just the lounge band. Don’t mind us.”) or poking fun at his own music (“This is a song about my aunt.”) In fact, he talked so much at one point that the rest of the band actually signaled to him to shut up and let them play the next song.

But Jollett’s chattiness is precisely why ATE can make even the biggest venues seem intimate. Even as ATE gains momentum and popularity, all five members continue to interact with fans.  Jollett even announced what bar they’d be at afterwards (Ames Hotel, second floor bar) and invited everyone to show up.  Unfortunately, I had to rely on the subway, which closes at 12:30 a.m. Bummer.

Oh, and did I mention how good they sound live?  Here’s someone else’s video from a different show, because I didn’t have my camera.  But you can still get a good sense of their show and stage presence. (And whoa, they have practically a whole orchestra at this one. Anna usually has to play the viola by herself).

And now, to wrap up, I’ll leave you with one of my personal favorite moments of the show.  Obviously, I’m going by memory so the dialogue is not 100 percent accurate, but you can get the main idea.

Jollett, joking: “I always try to write songs about political figures, but then I just end up writing about some dumb girl.”
Girl in the front row: “Alexander Hamilton!”
Jollett, laughing: “Alexander Hamilton? How about James Monroe? Only in Boston would you get an answer like that.  In L.A., they’d be like ‘Jersey Shore!’  Do you guys know who Alexander Hamilton dueled with?”
Guy in the crowd: “Aaron Burr!”
Jollett: “See, the guy with the beard knows! In L.A., they’d yell ‘The Situation?!?’ But not here in Boston.”

Damn right.  Mad props to Jack Daniels for sponsoring such an awesome show.


  1. HAHAHAHA!!!!!! That guy was me! i DID have a beard, but he said the guy "with the Beer" i've been looking for a clip of this for AGES! to show my girlfriend, she was supposed to go on our first date to that show, but couldnt make it... i'd love to see that back and forth if you find it!

  2. Seriously?!? That's awesome! Way to go. If I ever find video footage, I'll be sure to post it!