It seems as though every edition of Toxicity now begins with an acknowledgment that it’s been way too long since the last one. What can I say? Since The Airborne Toxic Event’s early spring El Rey residency wrapped up, things have been awfully quiet around the band.
That’s about to change though, even if only for a brief moment. The group’s next live performance takes place next weekend, June 24 at the Bonanza Campout in Heber, UT. It seems an obscure venue for a one-off summer gig, but it marks TATE’s first festival appearance since Riot Fest Toronto way back on Sept. 20, 2015.
I’m anxious to see what the setlist looks like, and which (if any) of the new songs make the cut. A shorter festival set for an audience that may not be overly familiar with the band is likely to major on the greatest hits, but hopefully at least a couple of the new tunes get an airing.
Incidentally, if you’re attending the gig, it would be awesome if you could share the setlist with us. Drop me an e-mail or hit me up on social media.
The King of Twitter
To those of us who’ve followed the band for a long time and often felt like we were part of an exclusive club, Mikel Jollett’s recent emergence as a Twitter celebrity has been something to behold. After all, this is the man who once tweeted this:
Sometimes I feel bad for avoiding Twitter. Then I think, “What would Tom Waits tweet?”
Then I go back to writing songs.
— Mikel Jollett (@Mikel_Jollett) February 15, 2015
Before things began to heat up with the U.S. election last year, Jollett had around 13,000 Twitter followers – most of whom, I would assume, were fans of the band. One year later, he sits just shy of 93,000 followers, and yesterday he sent a tweet that garnered an astounding 82,000 likes and 32,000 retweets. It seems safe to say he’s come around on the whole dope machines thing.
What’s really caught my attention of late is how frequently Jollett is getting retweeted by other people I follow who, as far as I know, have no interest in the band. I swear, even if I wasn’t following him myself, he would show up in my feed at least six times a day courtesy of other bloggers, celebrities and political pundits I follow.
Sometimes his tweets even make their way into news articles, or spawn articles all on their own, as was the case when Upworthy’s Parker Molloy wrote about Jollett’s food stamp rant last month.
Growing up, Jollett’s family relied on food stamps to live, and in this epic Twitter thread, he shares a personal anecdote to show how they helped him find success later in life:
Just want to say: people think there’s shame in being on food stamps. There isn’t.
We were on food stamps when I was a kid. It saved us.
Fox News wants you to believe there’s shame in being poor. Like you’re lazy or something.
I had a single mom w a master’s from Berkeley.
We were just poor because we fell on hard times due to some unforeseen circumstances.
Plus it’s doubly hard for a single mom on fixed $$.
“If we’d not had food stamps, we wouldn’t have been able to afford a place to live. This would have made matters worse.
It would’ve exposed us to higher risk of crime, a vicious cycle of shelters or who knows what else. Instead, we got some help for a while.
My mom eventually bought a house. Instead of being homeless, I graduated from high school with a 4.3 GPA, went to Stanford & graduated w honors.
Jollett goes on to say, “It gets intellectualized as Right vs. Left or something instead of, ‘Hey this program feeds kids. That is good. I think it’s weird that the debate has this shaming aspect to it. Like poverty is a sin instead of a circumstance.”
I haven’t spent a great deal of time covering Jollett’s politics here at TIN. It’s not because I’m not interested (I very much am), nor is it because I don’t share his views (I largely do). It just doesn’t fit my agenda for the website, which is simply to celebrate the music.
That said, to the extent that politics and social issues become a driving force behind the music, we could find ourselves talking about them more and more – and potentially with a much larger audience.
As far as music goes, the band member most in the spotlight continues to be Anna Bulbrook. Most recently, Bulbrook was the subject of a feature by Red Bull which, among other things, features some incredible photos of the songstress. For those who have followed her exploits with GIRLSCHOOL and the Bulls, the topics of conversation will be familiar, but she did drop some new hints about what the future may hold for her all-female collective:
Bulbrook has big plans to expand GIRLSCHOOL’s year-round programming this year, too, and hopes to become involved in more festivals, talks, panels and live Q&As with artists across the cities. Not to mention her aspirations for GIRLSCHOOL’s classes to begin in other cities, as well. “I mean, it’s really growing into this behemoth,” she says cryptically. “There are other things in the fire I can’t share yet. TBA: Get excited.”
Elsewhere, Anna shared her Top 5 Albums by Amazing Women over at Discogs – a list that includes Madonna, Björk, Beach House, Fiona Apple and Lauryn Hill.
To celebrate Airborne’s return to the summer festival scene, let’s revisit that Toronto Riot Fest performance and their cover of “Pursuit of Happiness,” courtesy of danielscissorhands.
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.