The Airborne Toxic Fantasy: Choosing the Dream Setlist

Posted: September 9, 2015 in Clamoring of the Crowd
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The Airborne Toxic Event Dreams SetlistBy Glen

Every fan of every band has a wishlist – some more realistic than others.

Seeing the band in that certain venue. Meeting the singer. Hearing that song. These are the attainable ones.

Then there’s the pie-in-the-sky fan fictions: Watching them record. Starring in their next video. Getting pulled up on stage to fill in on guitar.

A private gig.

Picking the setlist.

With their residencies and their orchestra performances and their acoustic sets and their full album performances and their 30 Shows in 30 Days tours and many other stunts, The Airborne Toxic Event does better than most groups at making fan dreams come true. And they’re doing it again.

If you follow Airborne on social media, you’re no doubt aware that they’ve been pushing fans in Buffalo and Philadelphia to Shazam their latest single, “One Time Thing,” with the promise of a meet and greet for the fan in each city who does it the most.

On Tuesday, they took things to the next level with this announcement:

Okay Philadelphia. Thanks so much for flooding us with your “One Time Thing” Shazam screenshots over these past few weeks. In light of your intense participation and general awesomeness, we’ve decided to up the stakes and offer the TOP 20 Shazamers (is that the right word?) FREE TICKETS to a PRIVATE SHOW in PHILLY. Plus, bring three of your best friends, on us.

Not only that… We’re going to make this even more interesting by letting the top Shazamer PICK THE SETLIST.

Here’s what you need to do:

Keep Shazaming “One Time Thing” and send the screenshots to for a chance to win. Remember: each screenshot must show a different time in order to count!

Let’s do this.

Private show? Check. Pick the setlist? Check!!!

After my raging envy subsided enough to allow me to think straight, I got to daydreaming: what songs would I choose if I won this contest?

There are lots of ways I could go, but one thing is clear: this is a time to swing for the fences. Asked by one fan if even a rarity like “Tokyo Radio” is fair game, The Airborne Toxic Event answered in the affirmative.

That being the case, my list is light on classic cuts and heavy on songs that would rarely – if ever – be heard under normal circumstances. There were some tough choices: it pains me to leave off “Wrong,” “One Time Thing” and “Dope Machines,” as I’ve fallen in love with all three, but I’ve had several opportunities to see them live and probably will do so again. “Does This Mean You’re Moving On?,” “Happiness,” “Missy,” “Numb,” “Graveyard…” All are highlights of any TATE gig, but all fall by the wayside here. I did squeeze in three staples, though – just so we all know it’s really an Airborne show.

We don’t yet know how many songs the winner will get to select. I’ve gone with 20 here, which is probably a little too generous – but hey, it’s my fantasy. Here’s my setlist:

1. This is Nowhere: Duh.

2. Echo Park: The Airborne Toxic Event has played almost every song in their catalog in the past year. This is one of two times I will push them beyond those limits.

3. This Losing: A too-rarely-played classic.

4. Poor Isaac: Heard it soundchecked just prior to its release on Songs of God and Whiskey, and it was smokin’.

5. A Letter to Georgia: Is it too much to ask the Calder Quartet to sit in on this one?

6. Safe: A top-5 Airborne song for me; a Georgia/Safe/All I Ever Wanted combo would be a masterclass in orchestral rock.

7. All I Ever Wanted: One of only three “standards” on my list. It’s not a TATE show without it.

8. The Thing About Dreams: The quartet of My Childish Bride/The Thing About Dreams/Something You Lost/Chains that was featured during last spring’s Dope Machines Tour was jaw-droppingly gorgeous, and palpably different from anything I’d experienced at previous Airborne gigs. I didn’t quite have room here for all four, but almost…

9. Something You Lost: When they performed it in San Francisco last March, I saw Mikel’s heart actually exit his body. Half of it burst out through his guitar; the other half escaped through his tremoring vocal cords.

10. Chains: Could become a crowd favorite if it was played more frequently. Chains has everything you want in a TATE song.

11. Change and Change and Change and Change: After a relatively downbeat portion of the show, Change and Change would bring the energy right back up through roof.

12. Cocaine and Abel: My favorite of the six SOGAW songs I have yet to see live.

13. Dublin: Surprisingly not played during the Such Hot Blood show at last year’s Fillmore residency; it was the highest song left on my wishlist after that extravaganza.

14. This is London: Supremely underrated. Love the lyrics, and the driving beat rocks louder live than it does on the album.

15. The Fifth Day: What can I say? I wish they would play it Every. Single. Show. I’ve been lucky enough to catch it three times, which is more than most can say, but never enough. The desperate harmonies at the end would lead perfectly into the viola that opens…

16. Sometime Around Midnight: See #7.

17. Innocence: It’s criminal how rare it’s become. If I went to an Airborne show and they only played Innocence, I would leave happy.


18. Strangers: Another SOGAW favorite that I hope to experience live someday. And I think it would fit hand in glove with my next selection.

19. The Way Home: Lyrically, this song means more to me than any other. My story… and a kick-ass tune to boot.

20. All At Once: One more must-have from the standards list. One of the greatest songs ever written, IMO, it would bring a cathartic end to what would surely be the most emotional show of my life.

So there it is: my once-in-a-lifetime, perfect TATE show. What would make your list? Let us know below!

P.S. If you are entering the contest, be sure to copy on the e-mails you send the band, and we’ll enter you in our Dope Machines vinyl contest. Though you can enter TATE’s contest as often as you like, for ours it’s just once a day.

P.P.S. If you read this and you ultimately win the right to pick The Airborne Toxic Event’s setlist, I would love to hear from you if you’d care to share your thought process with the fan community, and/or if you want to tell us about your experience after the fact. Drop me a line!

Glen-TINGlen 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. Tim de Monkey says:

    Your list is remarkably close to how mine would look it’s almost spooky, just a couple substitutions and shuffles. I’m dying a little inside knowing this is just an exercise for my imagination.

    Last fall they asked us to turn our dream setlist into a Spotify list, I wonder if such lists benefit them in terms of charts & marketing? Unfortunately a few of my favs aren’t available on Spotify (the Euro version of SHB with The Way Home, for instance)

    Liked by 1 person

  2. […] The Airborne Toxic Fantasy: Choosing the Dream Setlist […]


  3. […] Many of us have been daydreaming about the setlist we would craft, given the opportunity. As it turns out, the actual winner of the contest had a much more noble plan up his sleeve. […]


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