It’s been 5 months since my crazy experience seeing The Airborne Toxic Event perform a 3-night residency at the legendary Fillmore in San Francisco. Feeling as though I had nothing to add to the already superb write-ups featured on this blog about the event, I chose not to share my experiences. In the months that have followed, though, I have gained a new perspective on the whole trip, and some of the things that stuck with me are not what I would have expected to walk away with. Hopefully you find some of these lessons learned as amusing as I do.
1. Being in the second row is not the end of the world.
Yes, I just typed those words. Before last September, if you had told me I would be saying this, I would have not only laughed at you but I also would have laughed with pity at the poor fools who had convinced themselves that this could possibly be true. That was before I found myself in San Francisco with two of the most awesome girls I have ever met.
On Friday, my second day, I was completely intoxicated with the city and spent a little more time than I had planned sightseeing, laughing and drinking with my friends. When I arrived at the venue for “All At Once night” at around 3pm, I realized my chances at front row were slim to none. I was, after all, battling with the MOST hardcore of the hardcore (just ask Glen what time he started lining up). I sucked it up and put on a brave face but I was absolutely panicking inside. Standing in line, I convinced myself the show was going to be horrible; I was going to feel so far removed from the action that I would never forgive myself for taking that cable car.
What I learned was, second row isn’t that different than first row. Yeah, you’re not leaning against the stage getting hit in the head with Steven’s guitar, but it’s still pretty damn fantastic. What you lose in proximity to the band you gain in proximity to the fans. It was a party; we danced and laughed and drank. That’s right, I was able to DRINK because if I had to pee, I was able to get to and from the bathroom, something anyone who has ever experienced barrier would assure you is near impossible. Even the band could see me way back there, as proven by Steven’s nod in our direction when my girlfriend and I started screaming for him.
What’s the moral of the story? It’s true that barrier is an experience like no other, but these guys play to the whole room, not just the front row. There are no “bad spots” at a TATE show.
2. Strange Girl makes me ugly cry.
In the weeks leading up to the residency, fans eagerly discussed the songs they were most anticipating hearing. For me, that song was “Strange Girl.” Not only had it rarely been performed live, it is in my top 5 TATE songs. When night 2 came along, I had almost forgotten what I was about to experience, what with the trauma of being in the second row. When Mikel announced the song, it was a wonderful little surprise. As he started singing it, a beautiful acoustic version accompanied by Anna’s angelic vocals, the enormity of everything hit me at once. The anticipation of the last 4 months, the reality of what I was finally experiencing and the beauty of the arrangement brought me to tears. Not those small tears that you can wipe away without anyone seeing, oh no… I was balling, so much so that my neighbors took notice and told their neighbors, and soon my ugly cry was the main attraction. “Look everyone, she’s SOBBING!” Slightly embarrassed, even though everyone meant well, I embraced my feelings, ignored the fact that my mascara was probably running and cherished every moment of the song. Just thinking about it still gives me goosebumps.
3. There is such a thing as meeting the band too many times.
Within minutes of arriving at our hotel, we had seen enough of the band’s crew to realize we would be staying in the same hotel as the band. At first, this elicited fan girl glee. Squealing with excitement, my girlfriends and I imagined running into the band and chatting, laughing, maybe even getting some fun selfies. Of course, we weren’t the only giggling fans to have these daydreams and it quickly became apparent that maybe the band just wanted to get from the hotel lobby to their room without smiling for a picture. Not that they weren’t friendly, because they were. They were so very sweet and patient with u,s but it was obvious that they had to be sweet and patient with a lot of people. We ran into the band all right… we ran into them everywhere. Elevators, hallways, hotel lobby, on the streets… it got to the point where I would see them coming and duck down an alley or into a shop or look down at my phone to save them the trouble of doing either of the same. Not to say they would do that, but what if they did? Can you say awkward? I have to give props to Mikel for not running from my girlfriends and me when we screamed and jumped around the first day we saw him on the streets after visiting the hotel bar for some pre-concert refreshments. It was not my finest moment.
4. TATE is the best.
No, seriously. I know what you’re thinking. How am I only now figuring this out? It’s not that I didn’t already believe this to be true, but after that weekend, I have a new found respect for them. As I’ve said, the band spent the whole weekend being accosted by fans at every turn, and yet they were polite and gracious every time I saw them interacting with one. Even though I’m sure Adrian must have been overwhelmed by all the attention, he never once faltered, answering dozens of questions from curious fans wanting to get to know the new guy a little better. There was at least one member of the band meeting with people after every show, and Mikel took the time to chat and thank every fan that waited for him after the last night, even though I’m sure he was exhausted.
My favorite moment of interaction was after the second show on Friday night when my friends and I stayed to chat with Steven and Anna. As we posed for a picture, Mikel was running out to a waiting car. We screamed for him to join us in the picture and even though he could have pretended not to hear us, he glanced back, turned around and (battling over excited fans and chilly temperatures) made his way back to us, photobombing our picture with Steven before running back to the car. They are just all so wonderful to me. When I take a moment to think about what the members of TATE were doing every day that weekend, how hard they were working, I can’t help but to be so incredibly grateful for every moment they gave us.
5. TATE fans are the best.
Now that we’ve established how wonderful this band is, can I take some time to emphasize how absolutely awesome their fans are? I spent the weekend putting faces to names, meeting people I had only ever “known” online and some I had never known at all. People who had read my TIN articles introduced themselves to me, and I was so honored and moved by their kindness. Every show became less and less about just watching the band on stage and more and more about experiencing the music with the people around you. By the third night, strangers were started to recognize each other and learning each others’ names. We were like one big extended family. TATE’s music brought me together with people I am sure I will be friends with for the rest of my life. If you need a reason to love this band any more than you already do, look no further than the amazing people who support them.
Jamie spends most of her days with her husband as they attempt to raise 4 future TATE fans and all around decent human beings. In her free time, when not obsessively listening to her favorite bands and going to concerts, she is also an aspiring seamstress. She writes about her handmade wardrobe on her blog Such a Strange Girl, and is a regular contributor to This Is Nowhere.