Effervescent: Adj. 1. A fizzy or bubbly drink. 2. Vivacious or enthusiastic.
Divine: Adj. 1. Of, from, or like a god. 2. Excellent or delightful.
Radiant: Adj. 1. Sending out light, shining or glowing brightly. 2. Heat transmitted by radiation, as opposed to convection or conduction.
On a breezy Los Angeles evening, a small group of friends and myself (including an Airborne first timer) assembled for a night inside the Whiskey Machine. And what a night it was. The first opener, Dear Boy, harkened back to The Cure but with a little more bite. And we ate it up. Australians’ Falls were our next experience, and their sweet acoustic vulnerability was a powerful experience. It was almost as though the openers were showing us two ends of the TATE spectrum to prepare us for the oncoming storm about to hit.
“Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” set the stage for the band as The Bird was revealed, and we were already a chaotic mass ready to destruct. “Poor Isaac” was our booming intro, and we were hooked from then on. They were already working up a sweat by the time “Cocaine and Abel” began, and so were we. “Bride and Groom” followed, and I had never experienced it that early in a setlist before, and it was perfectly at home. While the song generally swings slightly mellow, they rode the energy from the first two tunes and completely gave it vigor and vibrancy that I had not heard before.
What followed was a swaggering, insane throng of a set that crackled like a freak lightning storm inside The Wiltern. That being said, there were a few moments that could be seen as snafus, but are hallmarks of just how fun Mikel and Co. can be. Before “Change and Change and Change,” Mikel’s guitar was fairly out of tune, and he lamented how his segue had now been ruined (with a grin) as he returned and started over. Right after giving a heartfelt speech about how it was great to be back home in California, he started “California” but realized he had his capo on the wrong key. With the lightness that Mikel can muster, he asked us to recreate the moment, and off they went!
The band was all smiles throughout the night, you could tell that everyone was having a blast. Before the show started, the stagehands brought out the usual beverages for the band, but I noticed a bottle of champagne stood out. Turns out Whiskey wasn’t the only alcoholic beverage involved in the evening. As the drum intro for “Does This Mean You’re Moving On?” began, Mikel fervently grabbed the bottle and gave us all a good dousing before launching into the song, and everyone went nuts. “Wishing Well” brought another unique moment in the show; during the bass breakdown, Mikel called the stage lights down and asked us all to light the stage with our phones. It was quite a sight to see, a few hundred dancing lights thumping to Adrian’s pounding solo.
In perusing the other setlists for the tour, the “All I Ever Wanted”/“Midnight” combo usually meant the end of the show was near; but then “Innocence” began, and all preconceived notions were shattered. My Airborne compatriots had talked up this song to my first time friend, but we were not expecting in the least to get to hear it. We were all floored. After a brief break, “Graveyard” was a gentle choir of voices in the crowd, and we were glad to be with each other and the band. The show concluded with a “Missy” medley that sent us all ballistic, and we were all exhausted once the festivities concluded.
I asked my two friends if they could describe the evening in one word, what would it be? My (now converted) friend said “Effervescent.” My longtime Airborne cohort said “Divine.” And I said “Radiant.” Enthusiastic would be an understatement of the passion that the band pours into each performance, and of course the fizzy beverage made a literal experience. For me, the magic of their shows is how the raw power behind each song brings the audience to life in an amazing way, and that ability to bring people together is spiritual. When a group of artists allows us to see their emotional truth, it shines on and reverberates in us in a glimmering, luminescent fashion.
Effervescent. Divine. Radiant. Not a bad way to spend the last night on Earth.