When The Airborne Toxic Event stormed the stage at Vancouver’s Commodore Ballroom last night for their fourth and final BC performance of the year, it was clear from the get go that they were intent on sending the capacity crowd home euphoric and sweat soaked.
Refreshed and recharged after a four-day mid-tour break, the band showed up with fire in their eyes, rattling the rafters with a thundering “Welcome to Your Wedding Day.” With their collective feet jamming the pedal firmly to the floor, there would be no letting up or slowing down until the encore, the band serving up one blistering rocker after another.
That’s not to say it was all business by any means. Quite to the contrary, the group was in a playful mood on this evening, particularly lead singer Mikel Jollett. On “Something New,” he made the rounds, paying a visit to each of his bandmates: straightening their outfits, unbuttoning the shirts of guitarist Steven Chen and bassist Adrian Rodriguez (much to the delight of the females in the house), and striking a beggar pose with Anna Bulbrook as he plaintively reasoned, “We all need a fix, I guess I need one too.”
The main set was highlighted by a pair of relatively infrequently played numbers from Such Hot Blood, “What’s in a Name?” and “The Storm,” and rounded out by familiar favorites like “Gasoline,” “Changing,” “Happiness is Overrated” and “Hell and Back.” An extended “Wishing Well” gave each band member a chance to shine, particularly Adrian who took centre stage with a thumping bass solo.
As has been the case throughout the tour, there was a sense in the air that The Airborne Toxic Event is on the verge of breaking through to something bigger. The crowd was the largest yet for a Vancouver TATE performance, and it was rabid (well, at least by polite Canadian standards). New songs “California” and “Wrong” were enthusiastically received, despite this being the first time most in the audience had heard either one. Mikel introduced the latter by acknowledging that “There’s been a lot of talk about this next song. People are trying to figure out if we’re a folk band or a rock band or an electronic band. The answer is, “Fuck off.'” He also answered the question of when the new single will be available for purchase: this coming Tuesday.
After closing the main set with the frenzy-inducing one-two punch of “Sometime Around Midnight” and “All I Ever Wanted,” (between which they had to pause for a good minute to let the ecstatic crowd scream itself out), the band exited the stage and evidently spent a few minutes putting the encore into a blender. Rather than the scheduled quintet of “The Graveyard Near the House,” “The Fifth Day,” “All At Once,” “Does This Mean You’re Moving On?” and “Missy/Boys Don’t Cry,” they followed the mass singalong of “Graveyard” with two more from Such Hot Blood: “Elizabeth” and “Bride and Groom.” After turning up the heat for “Moving On,” they slid “All At Once” into the closing position, bringing down the house one last time.
I’d been a little nervous about this show because I was bringing five TATE newbies with me. Would they come away converted, or would they end up scratching their head even harder than usual over my
obsession passion for this band?
As far as I can tell, The Airborne Toxic Event made five new fans last night, which really tells you all you need to know.
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.