Well TATE fans, it’s been a hell of a week, has it not? From the thrill of new music to the exhilaration of a star-making performance at Lollapalooza to the confirmation of Adrian Rodriguez as a full-time band member to Noah Harmon’s Instagrammed declaration that he was fired to the subsequent outrage and confusion amongst the fan community, reporting on The Airborne Toxic Event suddenly became a full-time, round the clock occupation. To wit, here we are barely a week into August, and we’ve already received more traffic this month than in any previous full month this year.
Not surprisingly, we have gathered enough Toxicity material to fill three articles. Here’s the best of it, presented in chronological order.
Boonstock in Pictures
It’s difficult to believe that it’s only been a week since I hit the road for the four-hour drive to Penticton to catch Airborne at Boonstock. So much has transpired in the TATE universe since then, it seems like months ago that I was lucky enough to witness the world premieres of new songs “Dope Machines” and “California.” Apart from our own coverage of the event, precious little news emerged from Boonstock – and it’s just as well, as that may have been the straw that broke the camel’s back ’round these parts. But, there are a couple of photo sets that are worth checking out, here and here.
From Good to Great at Lollapalooza
Although Boonstock was the longer set, it served as a mere warm-up for the main event: Lollapalooza. Taking the stage before a drenched audience of thousands, and who knows how many others watching the live stream from home, The Airborne Toxic Event delivered what many are calling a career-defining performance. Whether it was the storming opener “All At Once,” the electrifying remixed “Wishing Well,” Mikel scaling the stage scaffolding and making an instant celebrity out of security man Luis during “Moving On,” the much-anticipated and well-received pair of new songs, the enthusiastic call and response of “Hell and Back,” the unforgettable rain-soaked rendition of “Sometime Around Midnight” or Anna Bulbrook diving into the crowd in the set-closing “Missy,” there was a highlight around every corner.
If you missed it, you might just want to set this article aside and return to us after seeing for yourself:
We weren’t the only ones who were blown away. In a glowing review, Anthony Kuzminski of antiMusic had this to say (emphasis mine):
An impressive live outfit that in 2012 I saw tear down the walls of the Metro in Chicago with a high energy and blistering set that echoes the spirit of the Clash. At the Grove, the rain endured but the crowd that looked on were fans who knew these songs, their three albums and just how blazing they are on a concert stage. Two new songs debuted on the Lollapalooza stage; “Dope Machine” and “California” which was written in recent weeks. The latter is among the best songs the band has ever crafted. Steely rhythm guitars lace the song of renewal and redemption and should be a staple on their fall tour of the US. The rain strengthened during the band’s anthem “Sometime Around Midnight”, which coalesced into a prayer for the lonely, heartbroken and confused. When I saw them in 2012, I wrote the following:
A great song doesn’t just move you; it leaves deep cuts that can’t be sewn back together. It flows inside your blood where when you hear it, you don’t listen to it, but become a part of the song. Inside Chicago’s Metro club, eleven-hundred voices shudder as they screech “You just have to see her” five times in a row. The band roars, the crowd wails and everyone’s voices break as they share a piece of their soul as the lyrics to “Sometime Around Midnight” escape from their lips. It’s a transcendent moment in terms of performance from the Airborne Toxic Event, but it’s an exorcism for the audience. This is a song that the sold-out crowd relates to; it’s one that defines them. We’ve all pined for a lost love and when our paths unexpectedly cross, it sends our world into a whirlwind and to have someone craft these emotions so perfectly is something we can grasp and hold onto and the Airborne Toxic Event has mastered the craft of heartache and melancholy in song.
This is the single greatest song of the last century without a chorus and was the single paramount song performance of Lollapalooza’s three days. As blades of rain fell, a ray of light shone down on the crowd in between the towers of downtown Chicago signaling something magnificent was about to occur. Fans began to relinquish their umbrellas, hats and poncho’s and took the advice of Glen Hansard and simply embraced the rain. With each passing lyric the concentration of the crowd ripened into a dizzying fury where band and fan played off one another in a spiraling squall of emotions boiling over, bodies leaping for the sky, hearts being baptized by the rain, ache dissipates, hope surges, the bass rolls, the drums step up, the guitars wail, the violin accentuates and Mikel Jollett’s vocals heightens to colors undefined highlighting one of the great emotional purges in the history of music. Rolling the intensity into “Missy” and set closer “I Fought the Law”, this was dedicated to Blood Orange due to his Friday night misfortune. Before Lollapalooza the Airborne Toxic Event were a damn fine band, but after Lollapalooza, I’ll go on record and say they are a great one.
In this case, I’m not sure that a picture truly is worth a thousand words. That being said, there are some pretty awesome photos over at Axs (along with a brief review of their own).
The occasion of one of the world’s premiere music festivals also gave rise to a number of interviews with various members of the band. We already covered the big ones – including The One in Which The Bomb Was Dropped – earlier this week. But there are others worth watching.
First, we have Mikel and Anna sitting down with Fuse, where they talked more about the new album plans and joked about Anna’s desire to win the ongoing Titans of Tambourine contest. (Speaking of which, have you voted today?) Meanwhile, Steven and Mikel put in some time with 101WKQX where they patiently answered a number of questions to which the interviewer should’ve already known the answers (“Where did you get your name?”). To his credit, Mikel responded with patience and humor: “When we started the band, I had no idea that we’d ever be a band that would be big enough to not need such a weird name. In retrospect, I should’ve just called us U3 or something like that.” They also riffed on some of the more memorable fan tattoos they’ve seen, and talked about the connection between “Goodbye Horses” and The Silence of the Lambs.
Firing and Brimstone
It’s no stretch to say that the past week has been the most tumultuous of The Airborne Toxic Event’s career – if not privately, then certainly publicly. The downplayed announcement that Adrian has permanently replaced Noah triggered the upheaval, but it was when Noah proclaimed that he had been fired that the shit really hit the fan. The band was besieged by fans demanding an explanation, fans took sides and traded barbs, and some of us even stayed up all night trying to figure out what the hell had just happened.
As the smoke cleared and clearer heads began to prevail, most fans settled into some complex elixir of sadness mixed with resignation and genuine anticipation of what’s coming for Airborne 2.0. A friend of This Is Nowhere weighed in with a reasoned contribution to the discussion, and then did what she does best, baking up a batch of cookies to soothe the aching TATE fan’s heart.
As we embrace the future, we see good things ahead – starting with this.
Glen is the founder and editor of This Is Nowhere. He’s grateful for an understanding wife and kids who indulge his silly compulsion to chase a band all over the Pacific Northwest (and occasionally beyond) every time the opportunity arises.