Behind the Madness: The Airborne Toxic Event, a Prelude

Posted: July 17, 2013 in A Little Less Profound
Tags: , , , , , , ,

By Colleen

I never expected to be here.

I certainly never expected things to go this far.

I just had this broken heart, and they were just a band.

I like a lot of bands, too. Everything from New Order to The Smiths to The Avett Brothers. From Collective Soul to Cold War Kids. I’ve been mistaken for a hipster, but the truth is I have older brothers and music-savvy friends. On my own, I’m nothing special. I just love music.

But let’s be honest here – I love The Airborne Toxic Event.

Most of you already know this. But some of you may be scratching your head, wondering what an airborne toxic event is. Some of you (and you know who you are) are already rolling your eyes and groaning. And yet there are some of you who are bored. Perhaps it is late at night and you can’t sleep, and you’re just surfing the web, looking for something that might be more entertaining than a cat video.

I am writing to you bored insomniacs.

I am writing to you Airborne virgins.

I am writing to you Airborne fans.

I am writing to my friends. My family. My faithful and trusted companions.

And I am writing to you, Airborne Toxic Event.

Because while I never expected to be here – as your biggest fan – I am so very glad I am.

In the next few weeks, I invite you to go on this weird little journey with me. But I must warn you: this particular ride, it is a rollercoaster. I promise there will be drama. There will be blood. There will be heartbreaks, lots of them, three albums’ worth. There will be fire and tears and the very core of human misery. But for every descent into darkness, there is a rise of the human spirit. There is resilience and determination in spite of the fact that I am a failure, a loser, and a socially awkward woman suffering from crippling grief with a desperate need to be liberated.

Since I am classified as a “superfan,” you will undoubtedly find me in the front row at a venue where they are scheduled to appear. Here is where my story begins. But like I said, I never expected to be here. I went to 1.6 concerts in my teenage years. I went to even less as a young adult. I disliked the noise, the yelling, the crowds, the sweat, the booze, and the atmosphere. Why not just stay at home and listen to them in the comfort of my bed, where I can enjoy normal liberties, like going to the bathroom or making a sandwich if I want to? Why wait for hours by the door of some venue just so security can ask me “Are you really going to stand here that long?”

And most importantly, WHY do I have a bird on my face?!

And really, after all, wasn’t I supposed to be a mom? Wasn’t that all I ever wanted?

I beseech your sentimental side, the side that remembers what it is like to love something so much, you’re willing to risk your own reputation as a reasonable human being for the chance at being in the front row for the best concert OF. YOUR. LIFE.

And while we wait for them to take the stage, I will tell you the story of how I got here.

Since tonight is a very special engagement, they are performing in an outdoor amphitheater with an orchestra. We are standing in the front row. The white light from nearby lanterns lines the space in which we stand, combining with the light of a full moon above, giving us all an ethereal glow. From the speakers surrounding the stage, the notes of the plucked guitar strings of the song “Hero” by Family of the Year starts to play. On the stage in front of us is a rather odd scene – bare trees whose skeleton hands reach for the large injured raven that hangs precariously above the drums and the seats and stands of a 25-piece orchestra. You notice the bird’s outstretched wings, but you also notice the arrow at its side, and the clap of red blood where it has hit its mark: this is the same doomed bird that now occupies the space on my left cheek between my ear and nose. Below this ominous creature is an array of instruments: an upright bass, an acoustic guitar, a bass guitar, a mandolin, and an open case wherein lies a sleeping, shining viola. But the Gretsch is the one that catches your eye. The Silver Falcon, with a winged bird in flight of its own, ebony fingerboard, glossy black finish, and silver trim. It is stunning, and it hasn’t even begun to sing.

I look at the time. I want to make sure there is enough, because this story is not just some whimsical tale of ”How I Got To Meet The Band One Time.” While you soon enough find out whether that is true, you will also quickly see this is the stuff legends are made of. But I’m not the legend. I’m just a failure, remember? The fact is, the band you’re about to see is nothing less than legendary. And this story, while sad, will make you believe in the transcendent, healing power of music.

We’re okay on time. Lucky for us, the band is playing late tonight, and it is only sometime around midnight . . .

I take a breath. Here we go.

(Are you standing in this venue with me? Head to the bar, buy a drink, and comment below! We’re in the audience together!)

[Continue to Part 1…]

When she’s not front row at a TATE show with a bird emblazoned on her face, Colleen can be found blogging regularly at These Stunning Ruins, where this post originally appeared. She and her husband have also been known to occasionally lay down a wicked Airborne cover.

  1. I think this willingness to “risk your own reputation as a reasonable human being” is the line between fan and superfan. That kind of passion is compelling – one of the things I like best about you (and your kind here on this blog… and next to me in bed each night). Can’t wait to read more of your story!


  2. The next installment of Colleen’s story is coming soon… and it is epic.


  3. […] to emotion over this band, gushing about the songs and lyrics and its personal meaning to me (see Behind the Madness: The Airborne Toxic Event, a regular feature on this blog). This time, I was going to take the intellectual route and put all […]


  4. […] Longtime This Is Nowhere readers will be familiar with the story of Colleen, who bared her soul and shared the loss of two precious children in her stunning series, Behind the Madness. […]


  5. […] But the plane was delayed.  Then the flight was canceled.  Then the crushing disappointment finally got to me.  I officially lost all common sense.  The rest is history.  It is Madness. […]


  6. […] too many to name, but I will risk doing so anyway: Ginny and Angela’s battles with cancer, Colleen’s tale of heartbreak, Debbie’s overwhelming loss and Susan’s struggles with memory loss […]


  7. […] You already did that.  Stick to the assignment… er, contest […]


  8. […] have shared how the band has helped them through similar battles (see here and here and here and here); now I’ll have a story of my own to add to the […]


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s