Review: The Airborne Toxic Event Lights Up Vancouver’s Commodore Ballroom

Posted: October 25, 2014 in Clamoring of the Crowd
Tags: , , , ,
Anna Bulbrook of The Airborne Toxic Event makes her viola sing. Photo by Creative Copper Images, Vancouver, BC, Oct. 24, 2014.

Anna Bulbrook of The Airborne Toxic Event makes her viola sing. Photo by Creative Copper Images, Vancouver, BC, Oct. 24, 2014.

By Glen

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.

Mission accomplished.

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.

Mikel Jollett of The Airborne Toxic Event meant business Friday night at The Commodore. Photo by Creative Copper Images, Vancouver, BC, Oct. 24, 2014.

Mikel Jollett of The Airborne Toxic Event meant business Friday night at The Commodore. Photo by Creative Copper Images, Vancouver, BC, Oct. 24, 2014.

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.

Click here for the setlist.

The Airborne Toxic Event rocks The Commodore. Photo by Creative Copper Images, Vancouver, BC, Oct. 24, 2014.

The Airborne Toxic Event rocks The Commodore. Photo by Creative Copper Images, Vancouver, BC, Oct. 24, 2014.

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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Comments
  1. Susan S. says:

    Glad you saw a barn-burner in your own backyard, Glen. Stan and I are bringing a friend to Denver. He’s not a fan but wants to see what all our carrying on is about. Big commitment — flying to Denver and going to back-to-back shows. We hope to witness a conversion too.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. treendabean says:

    Even after a reflective 9 hour drive, recklessly carried out on barely 3 hours sleep and a lot of caffeine, I’m still not sure i’m up to recounting my evening very well but I’ll give it a shot because I’m “that person that comments on everything”. 😀

    For starters, I rarely go to concerts since I’m not comfortable in crowds. and I’m definitely not into getting right up in the crush of bodies near the stage, but TATE love is enough to get me out of my comfort zone. In an audience I don’t scream, dance, sing along, jump around, or otherwise externalize all the good that’s going on inside, I just tend to sedately observe and absorb, so I’d hate to think someone in the band might have noticed and thought I was not enjoying myself because despite the outward appearance I was having the time of my life. I may not have looked like I was moved, but I was pretty freakin’ moved.

    Highlights:
    -Being close enough to really appreciate the musicianship of the band – I spent a lot of time fixated on Daren to the point where I was like, “move aside Mikel you’re blocking my view” because that guy is just amazing to watch.
    -Fully realizing what a great front man Mikel is. Playful, energetic, and so gracious to the fans. While expecting one of his signature climbs or wades into the crowd I can’t say I’m disappointed neither of those happened, he put more than enough out there for us. And thinking he’s weird for writing a song like Graveyard? I’ll take that kind of weirdness any day.
    -Having Glen as my front row guide for the evening. Thank you for your insights and for being really kind. You’re really a great fan and it was so nice to see Mikel come by and acknowledge that at the end.
    – Closing with All At Once. I love this song, it’s become my anthem in what has been a pretty terrible year, but even so, I wasn’t expecting how hearing it live would so deeply affect me. My eyes welled when we got to “maybe it’ll be okay” and I struggled to hold it in until I could bolt out at the end of the show. I found myself sobbing on the seawall for a good long while afterwards. I know cathartic gets thrown around a lot when it comes to TATE music, but that’s exactly what it is.

    Here’s hoping 2015 brings them back through our neck of the woods, I am looking forward to seeing them again.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. […] It was a familiar sight almost every night: Adrian Rodriguez, Mikel Jollett and Daren Taylor kicking the encore into overdrive with a 3-man drum solo (is that an oxymoron?). In-the-crowd hijinks usually ensued. This image was captured by Jennifer McInnis (Creative Copper Images) in Vancouver. […]

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  4. […] Just when we thought we’d seen the last of the fall tour reviews, The Vancouver Observer popped up with their take on the Vancouver show (see TIN’s review here). […]

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