Review: The Airborne Toxic Event Fillmore Residency Night 1 (Debut Album)

Posted: September 19, 2014 in Clamoring of the Crowd
Tags: , , , , , , ,
The Airborne Toxic Event's Mikel Jollett and Daren Taylor: In the shadow of the bird. Fillmore Night 1. Photo by Glen.

The Airborne Toxic Event’s Mikel Jollett and Daren Taylor: In the shadow of the bird. Fillmore Night 1. Photo by Glen.

By Glen

The Airborne Toxic Event’s fall tour officially kicked off Thursday night at The Fillmore in San Francisco, cloaked in a time machine that transported us back to 2007, then jumped ahead to 2015 before dipping back into 2011 to close things off.

In the process, the band left zero doubt that they are ready to make a statement. Everything about this night seemed big, whether it was the massive white bird looming over the stage, Daren Taylor’s drumkit elevated several feet above his bandmates, the green lasers slashing through the air on “Papillon,” the huge sound of the newly debuted song “Wrong,” or the smile on singer Mikel Jollett’s face as he and his partners basked in the glow of a rabid crowd, many of whom had traveled hundreds or even thousands of miles to partake in this transcendent experience.

For those lucky enough to attend the three-night love fest, this much is clear: feel free to rip up whatever TATE bucket list you brought with you, because if the first gig was any indication, there ain’t gonna be much left on it come Saturday night.

The pattern for the residency was set from the opening bars of “Wishing Well,” which signaled that the trip down the memory lane of Airborne’s self-titled debut album would be the first order of business on this night. No build-up required; from the get-go, the band channeled the relentless energy and reckless abandon of their fresh-faced selves circa eight years ago. “Papillon,” bolstered by a light show the likes of which has never been seen at a TATE show, came on like a ravenous beast that threatened to swallow the venue whole. Two songs in and the sweat was cascading from Mikel’s brow, as I can attest after he leaned over me and a huge drop landed directly in my wide open eyeball.

A trio of crowd favorites followed in “Gasoline,” “Happiness is Overrated,” and “Does This Mean You’re Moving On,” the latter of which found Mikel in the midst of the crowd as they jumped around “like fuckin’ monkeys,” as they are known to do during this particular number.

*****We now interrupt this review for a brief moment of self-indulgence. If that’s not your thing, feel free to skip ahead to the next section.

Of all the songs that were promised to be played this week, the one I was personally anticipating the most was “This is Nowhere,” for obvious reasons. My hopes were fulfilled and then some, as the song apparently became an expression of appreciation for what we are doing here at TIN. Before launching into it, Mikel came over to where I was standing against the stage and shook my hand. When he messed up a line partway through the song he threw me a wink (and yes, my wife is already teasing me mercilessly about this; I maybe shouldn’t have told her about the wink with such enthusiasm.) And then, at the conclusion of the song came a second handshake, this one leaving me with a guitar pick in my hand.

On the off-chance Mikel reads this, thank you. I will never forget these four minutes of my life.

*****We now resume our regularly scheduled review.

Mikel Jollett of The Airborne Toxic Event was all smiles on Night 1 of The Fillmore residency.

Mikel Jollett of The Airborne Toxic Event was all smiles on Night 1 of The Fillmore residency. Photo by Glen.

“Sometime Around Midnight” arrived earlier in the setlist than usual, but was no less climactic. In fact, Mikel screamed out the last verse with a gusto that I’ve not heard in a long time – no falsetto on this night. A fun “Something New” and “Missy” (sans covers) followed, before we landed on another major highlight: the aural masterpiece that is “Innocence.” Rarely played in the past couple years, the fans were clearly grateful to experience it again. And as an added bonus, we witnessed Adrian Rodriguez put bow to bass guitar for the first time since he joined the band.

One burning question heading into the concert was whether the full album performances would include the B-sides. That query was put to rest as Mikel introduced “an old anti-war song,” and the roaring guitar intro to “The Winning Side” shook the Fillmore. Simply put, it rocked… HARD.

Not surprisingly, that treat was followed by “This Losing” and “The Girls in Their Summer Dresses.” The former had a slightly stripped down arrangement in the middle, with Anna Bulbrook going it alone on the viola without support from the bass, while the latter featured some fun interplay between Mikel and Anna, the singer playfully giving her the once-over as he assured us “I wasn’t looking at her ass.”

With the album now played in full, the band took a breather to share some stories from their earliest visits to San Francisco. Their first gig found them in a punk bar and being labeled as “faggots” thanks to their conservative dress at the time, prompting them to drop “Summer Dresses” from the setlist and add in the heavier “Winning Side.” That was followed by a later performance at a goth club, at which time the band, feeling protective of their lone female member, took the stance that her many male admirers in the audience were welcome to buy her as many drinks as they wished, but “IT is not fucking happening, guys.”

With that, our time machine left the early days and teleported us into the future, whereupon the band introduced the lead track off their upcoming fourth album, titled “Wrong.” Until I get a chance to review it on video (which we will post soon), I don’t want to get into too many specifics, except to say that I was transfixed in a way that I have not experienced since I heard “Safe” and “The Fifth Day” premiered at Red Rocks two years ago. I was already enthused by “Dope Machines” and “California,” but my excitement for the new album increased ten-fold with this tune that features extensive falsettos in the verses (which were delivered spot on), and a chorus that rocks louder than anything since “Welcome to Your Wedding Day.” Mikel’s voice was pristine throughout this song, with that hint of roughness that all his best vocal moments carry. If there’s any justice, “Wrong” should be huge for the band.

After a brief detour to late 2013 for the hit single “Hell and Back,” the show came to an end with a quartet of songs previewing tonight’s All At Once set: “Changing” and “All I Ever Wanted” brought the main part of the set to a close, before “The Graveyard Near the House”/”All At Once” duo sent the crowd home exhilarated… and anxiously awaiting the return engagement.

Fillmore Night 1 was truly all I ever wanted – by far the best rock show I have ever witnessed. I would say it can’t possibly be topped the next two nights, but after what just went down, I’m not prepared to place such limits on this band. Bring on Night 2!

Click here for the setlist.

Click here to download our FREE digital Fillmore programme.

Don’t Forget: Tonight’s second show from The Fillmore, in which All At Once will be played in its entirety, will be live streamed on Yahoo! Screen.

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.

  1. Susan S. says:

    Glen, I was so happy for you during “This is Nowhere!” I often wonder if the band has any idea what they’ve birthed — not only a catalog of incredible music, but the friendships fans have forged across miles. And, yes, the show was incredible but the fact that I was able to come across the country and share it with so many others was magical. Can’t wait for tonight. Oh, and I think the second show Mikel talked about was in a ‘goth club’ not a golf club. 😉

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Great review… and pretty spot on… with one small exception… (although I could be wrong, ’cause I heard it like you did at first), I don’t think he said “Golf Club”… I think it was “Goth Club”… He was talking about the DNA… which did feature a lot of Goth bands… At least that’s what I think he said on reflection. In any case… wonderful show… and the highlight was “This Is Nowhere” for me, as well! Cheers!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Rebecca says:

    This may be the best concert review I have ever read in my life! I love reading about the guitar pick moment….amazing! Thank you so much for sharing.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Mistie Tolman says:

    Beautiful t̶r̶i̶b̶u̶t̶e̶ review, Glen! Can’t wait to sneak in tonight and see All At Once and ALL OF YOU ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Maria says:

    I am so happy for you, Glen. So happy.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. treendabean says:

    So happy for your amazing This is Nowhere moment, Glen. Thank you for the review, photos, and updates.. I was really crushed that I can’t be there,, but living vicariously through your experiences helps quite a bit really.

    Liked by 3 people

  7. julie says:

    What an amazing evening… videos coming soon!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Thank you so much for this review! As someone who wanted to be there SO BADLY, but couldn’t, the writing made me feel like I was a part of this special night.


  9. treendabean says:

    Laughing so hard over the Golf/Goth mix-up. I was trying to picture all these Thurston Howell at the golf club types setting their sights on Anna and it wasn’t working; Goth fans make so much more sense.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. tegan says:

    Glen- After their magical ( and rainy) set at Lolla and running into the band at LAX yesterday afternoon, I totally understand how you feel after the show. Mikel is so incredibly kind to fans and I could feel the energy of the upcoming show while sitting with them in the airport. I’m so happy you got to hear your song and share a special moment! Get that video of Wrong up already! 🙂


    • You ran into them at the airport?? Did you ay hi? Details!


      • tzimmerm says:

        YES!! Chatted with Anna and Mikel for a few minutes. Sat by them before the flight. Took a few selfies with Mikel. They are so incredibly kind and down to earth! A magical moment for me!!! 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      • I’m so jealous! And happy for you! How did you approach them? I so want to meet them, but I’m so nervous!

        Liked by 1 person

      • tzimmerm says:

        I spotted them out of the corner of my eye and walked right up to them!! It was the first time I had “met” Mikel other than photos in the crowd, etc. I had met Anna before randomly at Lolla at Steven in Chicago this spring but it is still very scary/ fun/ exciting at the same time. How do you converse with people who have created music that has made such an impact on your life? You word vomit then you finally calm down and speak like a (somewhat) normal person. At least that’s what has happened to me each time 😉

        It was funny because after I introduced myself Mikel introduced himself. HELLO! Of course I know his name! Which is another reason why I love them! They are incredibly kind and humble. When you do see them (you will), forget any game plan and just go say hi!!!

        Liked by 1 person

      • You’re too sweet. Thank you so much for sharing your story and advice with me. I’ve pictured/imagined meeting them about a thousand times or so in my head.

        I see them on Monday night. It’s been over a damn year (I’m a single mom, so traveling to shows is out. of. the. question)! I’m planning on standing in line EARLY (I already called the venue to ask just HOW early I can show up without being considered “loitering”)!

        Liked by 1 person

      • And LOL at Mikel introducing himself. Reasons why this band is best number 6417.

        Liked by 1 person

      • tzimmerm says:

        AWESOME!! Great idea! And they do come out after shows sometimes and greet fans, get a beer, etc. I have a feeling Monday will be your day! Make sure to share!! 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      • Thank you so much! If I don’t melt during the experience than I will absolutely share 🙂

        Liked by 2 people

  11. Anna says:

    Glen!! I’m so happy you got such spectacular recognition from Mikel!!! That’s so fantastic!!!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. […] Review: The Airborne Toxic Event Fillmore Residency Night 1 (Debut Album) […]


  13. My favorite review to date. Well done, sir.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Thanks for the fantastic write-up, Glen. I can imagine the joy of having Mikel shake your hand and pass you his guitar pick…just…wow. My heart would burst with happiness if that happened. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  15. […] Review: The Airborne Toxic Event Fillmore Residency Night 1 (Debut Album) […]


  16. […] it would be like saying you have a favorite child). “Wrong” is the brand new song that was debuted on the first night of the Residency and was played both nights thereafter. Summary: it will rock your face […]


  17. […] an experience like this. And so, having already reported on the minutiae of each performance (see here, here and here), I’m ready to take a step back and reflect on the event as a […]


  18. […] “Dope Machines” and “California” at Boonstock and other festivals, and “Wrong” on the first night of the San Francisco residency. In all three cases, what was presented on stage was a step away from the traditional sound of The […]


  19. […] [xiii] Glen Hoos, “Review: The Airborne Toxic Event Fillmore Residency Night 1 (Debut Album),” This Is Nowhere, (Sept. 19, 2014),…. […]


  20. […] 18: TATE’s fall tour kicks off with the first night of The Fillmore residency; the debut album is played in full and new song “Wrong” receives its world […]


  21. Matt Jameson says:

    It still pains me greatly that I missed both the show and the stream. Do you know if anyone managed to record it?


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