I Believe I Was Wrong: Confessions of an Airborne Toxic Event Mega Fan

Mikel Jollett of The Airborne Toxic Event, Oct. 9, 2014, Burlington, VT. Photo by Ayaz Asif Photography, https://www.facebook.com/AyazAsifPhotography
Mikel Jollett of The Airborne Toxic Event, Oct. 9, 2014, Burlington, VT. Photo by Ayaz Asif Photography: https://www.facebook.com/AyazAsifPhotography

By Jamie

Early last month, just one week after I lived every fangirl’s dream and was practically serenaded with “The Book of Love” (during a show that I proclaimed the most amazing of my life), I stood on a sidewalk sandwiched in between the legendary 930 club and a tour bus and stated that I had just seen the worst TATE show ever. Oh yes, I was not just critical of my favorite band, I was critical of my favorite band within ear shot of my them because they all sat on that tour bus located just a few steps from where we stood in a circle discussing the many ways this show had failed us.

We weren’t just critical; we were disappointed and irritated. Eventually, someone said, “Hey guys… they can probably hear us.” I quickly glanced past the person standing in front of me and right into the tour bus window. The shades were drawn, and while I’m sure the bus offers some sound proofing, I realized that yes, there was a good possibility the band had heard us pick apart the two hours of their life that they had left on that stage.

Completely forgotten was Mikel’s kind smile and squeeze of my hand just seven days before. All I could think about was the show that had not met my expectations… minimal crowd interaction and “The Fifth Day” being cut from the setlist had me asking, “What have you done for me lately, TATE?”

I consider myself a good fan. I have a mental checklist of “bad concert behavior” that I do my best to avoid. I rarely pull out my phone during shows, I stay focused and in the moment, savoring every note of every song. I dance and cheer like no one’s looking (and if you saw the live stream from the Fillmore, chances are you saw some of those “I hope no one’s looking” dance moves). When I wait after a show I try to be respectful of the band’s time and space. I can’t say I’ve ever had a true conversation with the members of this band for fear of monopolizing their time. Despite my fangirls status, I’ve never grabbed Mikel, Steven or Adrian inappropriately; I had never even gotten a hug before San Francisco when Mikel embraced me while meeting with fans after the last show of the residency.

What exactly had changed? After sitting with my feelings for a couple of weeks, I’ve realized I had started to feel entitled to an experience not just because I was a good fan but because I’m a devoted one. This fact made me not just a bad fan; I was an ungrateful asshole.

What can this band give me that they haven’t already given me? Meet and greets, picks, autographs, setlists, smiles, winks, hugs… my TATE concert experiences could fill a highlight reel.

The reality of being such a huge fan is that sometimes we lose sight of what made us fall in love with the band to begin with. As a result, what was once new and exhilarating can become dull and boring. The enthusiasm we once gave freely now carries a price tag.

I’m not suggesting that, as fans, we shouldn’t be critical. Adopting an attitude that our chosen favorite band can “do no wrong” is probably unhealthy. Still, I think that as an outspoken, self proclaimed “mega fan,” I do owe TATE my support. If I can’t be their cheerleader, who will be?

If we can become jaded, how can we not expect the musicians, whose livelihood involves performing for us night after night, to not feel the same? I am a mega fan and because of that I have been given everything the band has to give. The downside to this is that eventually I will experience it all: not just the good but the bad as well. I will catch Mikel in a not-so-great, “I traveled all night on a bus, I miss my family and loved ones and I would really prefer not to smile for a picture” kind of mood. I may even see another not-so-great show (but let’s be honest, a not-so-great TATE show is still a FANTASTIC show). I can’t blame the band or expect more. They don’t owe me for my chosen devotion and even if they did, that debt has been paid back multiple times over. If I decide this band is disappointing me more often than not, I walk away with no hard feelings.

So, where does this new found perspective leave me? Putting this out there is a confession of sorts. I’m over my one “bad” show and moving on. I am choosing to love these guys, fully confident that the best is yet to come. Do they care? Maybe not; maybe they’d like nothing more than to never see my face again. But if I’m being honest, my past experiences with them do not suggest that. We are appreciated.

I’ve re-watched “The Book of Love” GoPro video a couple of times, I’ve listened to “Wrong” a couple dozen times and I think I’ve reclaimed my spot in “good fan” territory. I have an enormous amount of gratitude in my heart for the most important thing this band has offered me: their music, which has never disappointed.

Jamie: A Strange, Strange GirlJamie spends most of her days with her husband as they attempt to raise 4 future TATE fans and all around decent human beings. In her free time, when not obsessively listening to her favorite bands and going to concerts, she is also an aspiring seamstress. She writes about her handmade wardrobe on her blog Such a Strange Girl, and is a regular contributor to This Is Nowhere.

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Glen is the founder and editor of This Is Nowhere and author of Toxic History: The Story of The Airborne Toxic Event. 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.

2 Comments on I Believe I Was Wrong: Confessions of an Airborne Toxic Event Mega Fan

  1. Nice article, Jamie. I would also say that as a “mega fan,” you owe them your knowledgeable observations and thoughtful criticism as well.

  2. While I can’t consider myself a mega-fan I totally understand what you were feeling. The last show I attended was Vancouver and I walked out on the disappointed side. I’d been following the tour closely and was aware of all the great stuff that was happening – new songs, crowd-surfing, balcony climbing, old gems making the setlist, intimate crowd interactions – so I believed my show was going to be no different, but that didn’t turn out to be the case. By the standards of the shows other cities were getting Vancouver felt a little like the dud. I couldn’t even boast any swag or contact because both Mikel and Adrian reached over and beside me when distributing picks, setlists, and handshakes. I turned positively green with envy after hearing about the guitar smash at the Seattle show. Like, c’mon!
    Now that it’s been a month I feel better about it. I shouldn’t have let my high expectations blind me to the fact that it was still a good show, this band I love came to my city to play for me, I still got to hear some of my favorite songs, and I can never complain about how much fun it is to be on the bouncy floor of the commodore ballroom when the crowd gets going. That’s what my ticket was buying me, all the rest is just gravy might be a privilege some are lucky to experience but it sn’t something I’m owed.

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