TATE Unplugged 2: A Bombastic Wishlist

Posted: March 4, 2014 in 5's
Tags: , , , , , ,
Photo by TATE fan Jenn, Vancouver, Jan. 25, 2014

Photo by TATE fan Jenn, Vancouver, Jan. 25, 2014

By Glen

When The Airborne Toxic Event released their self-titled debut album in 2008, they gave their fans a special treat: a series of online videos that showcased every song on the album in a stripped down, acoustic format, filmed in a variety of unique locations around Los Angeles. The videos would eventually be released on DVD as part of a deluxe repackaging of the album.

The tradition was continued for 2011’s All At Once – not just continued, in fact, but taken to the next level. For this album, the acoustic videos (dubbed the “Bombastic” series) were unveiled online, one at a time, in the weeks leading up to the album release. They were available for purchase on iTunes and DVD (again, packaged with the cd) from day one.

The band’s third album, Such Hot Blood (2013) saw them take a different approach. Stylistically, the videos were shot in more conventional locations, all indoors, putting more focus on the music than on visual gimmicks. And, more notably, the band elected – for the first time – not to release the full album in Bombastic format, limiting it to three songs: “Timeless,” “The Storm” and “True Love.” (A suspected fourth video, possibly for “Bride and Groom,” has yet to surface – see below for that story.)

“Favorite Bombastic” is a frequent topic of discussion among TATE fans, and we’ve already weighed in on that question. But how about the songs that we haven’t yet seen in Bombastic format? Which songs would make for the best acoustic videos?

Aside from the seven missing tunes from Such Hot Blood, there are plenty of others to choose from. You’ve got your B-sides like “This Losing,” “The Winning Side,” “The Girls in Their Summer Dresses,” “Tokyo Radio,” “Dublin,” “The Way Home” and several others; soundtrack and special releases like “Hell and Back,” “I Don’t Want to Be on TV,” “Boots of Spanish Leather” and “The Wishing Song;” regular TATE covers like “The Book of Love” and “Goodbye Horses;” and two original songs that have only seen official release on the live album, All I Ever Wanted: “A Letter to Georgia” and “Duet.”

Given this selection, here’s my Bombastic wishlist: five Bombastics that I’d love to see someday:

5. A Letter to Georgia

All I Ever Wanted includes three ballads that became immediate fan favorites upon the album’s release. While “The Book of Love” is a cover of the Magnetic Fields’ original, both  “A Letter to Georgia” and “Duet” are TATE originals, presumably written in the lead-up to All At Once but ultimately failing to find a home on that album. Of the two, “Georgia” holds more intrigue as an acoustic video. That’s by no means a slight against “Duet,” which is beautiful in its simplicity. In fact, it’s that simplicity that keeps “Duet” off this list. The original is already stripped down to its barest form, such that a Bombastic rendition would be unlikely to stray very far from the version we already have.

With “Georgia” there is more potential for the band to take it in a different direction. We know from the All I Ever Wanted film commentary that the band tried upwards of 15 different arrangements of the song before settling on the version that we all know and love. The performance featured on Live at Koko showcases one different take on the number; I’d love to see another approach to it in acoustic form.

4. This is London

One of many underrated tracks from Such Hot Blood, “This is London” makes the list because of its intriguing visual possibilities. Lyrically, the song paints a vivid picture of the rainy streets of London. How great would it be if the band took an evening out of its next European tour schedule to camp out on a busy London street and shoot a Bombastic version of this song? Hopefully the weather would cooperate and provide the rain. It would be an epic callback to some of the earlier videos filmed in creative outdoor locations.

Likewise, how about shooting “Dublin” in a quiet spot by an Irish lake like the one we all imagine in our mind’s eye as we allow the soft notes to wash over us? Like “Duet,” it would probably be very similar to the original, musically, but the visuals would be lovely.

3. The Fifth Day

In the opinion of this writer, the fact that “The Fifth Day” has not found a regular spot on the live setlist is nothing short of tragic. I was lucky enough to be in attendance at the second of just a handful of live performances of the song at Red Rocks, in September 2012. It was absolutely breathtaking. The crowd hushed in reverential awe as Mikel Jollett and Anna Bulbrook melded their voices and carried us through the first half of the song. Our jaws dropped as Noah Harmon stepped up to the microphone to join the singers in whistling the bridge to that which followed: an orchestral explosion rivaled only by “Innocence,” closing with ethereal howls that hit notes I wouldn’t have guessed Mikel had in his range.

I was convinced that this song would prove to be THE showstopper on the subsequent tour; instead, it was only played once at a regular tour stop, and once more with an orchestra. I won’t speculate as to why, but I would love to see what they’d do with it acoustically. By necessity, the instrumental second half would be transformed, unless of course they pulled in their friends from the Calder Quartet for the shoot. Either way, the results would no doubt be spectacular.

2. The Winning Side

I tend to favor the acoustic videos that present us with a radical musical departure from the originals. No TATE song has more potential in that regard than “The Winning Side.” This early B-side is a sonic assault, propelled by heavy guitars and equally agitated vocals by Mikel. A quieter, unplugged performance would reveal a whole different side to one of The Airborne Toxic Event’s best, little known gems, while highlighting some of Mikel’s most exciting lyrics. Here’s a glimpse of what it might look like:

1. Bride and Groom

Following in the footsteps of previous Airborne mysteries like the lost, long version of “The Secret” and the elusive punk version of “The Kids Are Ready to Die,” there are some question marks around “Bride and Groom.” Specifically, did the band actually film a video for this song that has just never seen the light of day?

Back in February 2013, Mikel let it slip on Twitter that they were shooting several bombastic videos. One tweet was interpreted by some fans as an indication that “Bride and Groom” was being filmed. Meanwhile, other fans have reported that band members told them that four videos were filmed. And yet, to date, only three have been released.

Whatever the true story, “Bride and Groom” is a video I’d love to see. Though the album version is already Bombastic-esque in its musical execution, live performances of the tune (such as the snippet featured on the band’s recent Kimmel broadcast) have featured lovely Anna vocals in place of the trumpets in the opening bars of the studio recording. That alone makes this video a must-have.

How about you? What elusive Bombastic videos would you most like to see?

Glen, Fan of The Airborne Toxic Event Glen is the founder and editor of This Is Nowhere. 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.

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