The Airborne Toxic Event – HOB, San Diego

Concert review by Christina Preiss

AT1After overcoming a ticket debacle at Will Call at the House of Blues, my friend and I entered the venue only to find out that the opening band had started early?!  What concert ever starts early?  Needless to say I missed Nightmare Air, but according to the concertgoers that I polled, I didn’t miss much.  This was because they couldn’t understand a word that they were saying.  However, after the show I looked them up on YouTube and I thought they were quite good.  Perhaps the sound wasn’t the best it could have been for them at the venue.  Regardless, I was really excited to see The Airborne Toxic Event up next.

The stage was set with barren trees on either side and a large, black curtain covering the back wall poised for a big reveal.  People of all ages were packed in like cattle leaving no room to walk through the crowd.  I was really impressed that The Airborne Toxic Event sold out the House of Blues 2 nights in a row.  I have seen bands like The Hives only fill half of this venue and they are one of the best bands out there.  The Airborne Toxic Event clearly has legions of extremely dedicated fans.

AT4I was lucky enough to meet a group of lovely ladies in the front row that educated me on The Airborne Toxic Event or “TATE”.  They were a passionate group consisting of a mother, her daughter and a few close friends, one that came all the way from Seattle.  They stood in solidarity across the majority of the front rail, anxiously awaiting their favorite band.  The mother described TATE’s music as poetry-in-motion, and she said she had seen them over 40 times.  The Airborne Toxic Event originated in Los Feliz, CA, but their LA fans had no problem making the trip down to San Diego.

I was intrigued to find out that TATE’s singer, Mikel Jollett, had started out as a published writer and essayist; but, after dealing with a series of personal, traumatic events he was motivated to start a band.  The deepness of the emotions in TATE’s music clearly originated from someone facing the most challenging parts of this human existence.  Jollett’s affinity for literature is the reason the band is known as The Airborne Toxic Event, a title from White Noise, a novel that portrayed the plight of a family faced with an uncertain future against an advancing toxic cloud with unknown capabilities.  This knowledge made me believe that I was about to see a group of musicians that were both incredibly talented, as well as intelligent.

AT3Suddenly, at 8:50pm the venue went black and the crowd erupted into screams and applause.  The black curtain dropped, revealing a large, flying bird pierced with arrows.  For nearly 2 hours, the energy was absolutely electric and the fans were singing along to every word.  Jollett remarked that he felt like he hard an entire crowd of back-up singers.  This was clearly a band in which everyone was a star in their own right.  There was constant interplay between all of the bands members, which made for a very entertaining show.

Shortly after the show started, half of the band joined the drummer on his kit and they all played together.  Later on, Bulbrook, the female voila player was riding around on the shoulders of another band member.  Jollett was running up and down the front railing, engaging with all of the fans.  He even rode around on the shoulders of his security guard while I was in the photo pit.  I had a hard time getting out of their way.  Even if you don’t enjoy TATE’s music, you would still enjoy watching their live show.

AT5The music of The Airborne Toxic Event doesn’t fit into any one genre.  The set was a mix of rock, pop and folk.  My friend thought it was really calming and they reminded her of Silversun Pickups.  They played a lot of their hits, such as: Gasoline, Changing and Sometime Around Midnight.  I really loved their latest song to hit the airwaves, Timeless, which was an obvious crowd favorite.  Jollett mentioned that the band had basically been on the road for the last six years and he was really honored that everyone would come out and spend some time with him.

My impression of this band is that they are genuinely good people and that they are creating music they are passionate about. And because the music means so much to them, it resonates deeply with so many people.  This band definitely has a new fan in me.  You can find out more about The Airborne Toxic Event on their social media pages on Facebook, Twitter and MySpace as well as their website

Their latest release, The Secret, is available at a variety of online stores, such as iTunes.  Their current US tour started in San Diego, CA and will end in June 1st in Visalia, CA.  If you are lucky enough to be going to Coachella this year, you can catch them on both weekends. Nightmare Air just released their debut album High in the Lasers on March 19th of this year.  You can check them out on Facebook as well.

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