Mikel Jollett of The Airborne Toxic Event exhales after a job well done in Philadelphia. Photo by Ryan Macchione.

Mikel Jollett of The Airborne Toxic Event exhales after a job well done in Philadelphia. Photo by Ryan Macchione.

By Glen

As I gear up for my next Airborne Toxic Adventure, which will take me to Nevada and California a mere two weeks from today, I muse on the latest TATE news…

One of America’s Greatest Rock Bands

The Boston Herald‘s over the moon review of The Airborne Toxic Event’s show last weekend in Boston has been making the rounds in the TATE fan community all week. The writer, Bill Brotherton, heaps praise upon praise on the band.

The competition for your entertainment dollars this weekend was fierce. The three-day Boston Calling festival began last night with the Avett Brothers and Of Monsters and Men. Down south, Ed Sheeran was at Gillette Stadium and Brad Paisley was at the Xfinity Center. Josh Groban and Frank Turner sold out the Wang and House of Blues. And tonight, Madonna brings her spectacle to the Garden.

Spectacular acts, all.

But those in the know made the pilgrimage to the Orpheum last night to dance, sing and wallow in the exuberant sadness of The Airborne Toxic Event. Never have songs about failed romances, self-doubt and our inevitable death sounded so buoyant and upbeat. Its frontman Mikel Jollett is one of our best songwriters and TATE is one of America’s greatest rock bands.

And last night they were spectacular.

The Airborne Toxic Event played Boston Calling two years ago. Their set was a standout. But last night fans ventured to the Orpheum specifically to see them, and they were rewarded with one of the year’s best shows on one of Boston’s busiest music nights in years.

Over the last year and a half as I’ve worked on our ongoing Toxic History series, I have read literally hundreds of Airborne show reviews, and you know what? This is far from unusual. Coverage of TATE gigs is almost universally glowing (like this latest, from Stereo Embers, who caught the band in Buffalo). Seriously – I’d bet I could count the negative pieces on one hand.

The superlatives spewed by The Herald have been echoed by so many others for so many years now. It makes you wonder: just how many times does a band have to be labeled criminally underrated, the best band you’ve never heard of, and a group that should be playing much larger venues before the world wakes up and realizes what it’s missing? As special as it is to be one of “those in the know”… Mikel, Anna, Steven, Daren and Adrian – they deserve more than to be music’s Best Kept Secret. I hope someday they get it.

Dope Machines… or Such Hot Blood?

“I was really determined on this record to tell the story the way I wanted to tell it,” says Mikel Jollett. “And I didn’t care if it was weird. I didn’t care if the song structures were weird, or if the ideas were straightforward or obvious. I didn’t know if anyone would get it.”

Pop Quiz: What album is Mikel talking about?

If you said Dope Machines, you can be forgiven, because he said very much the same sorts of things in the run up to its release. But in this case, he’s talking about Such Hot Blood.

The quotes come from a podcast that was shared this week by Boston Rock Talk. With the way they tweeted it, I was under the impression that it was a new interview, and I listened to it for a good ten minutes before I clued into the fact that it’s actually from two years ago. Still well worth the listen. But I was pretty surprised to hear Mikel talk about SHB in these terms. It’s never struck me as a weird album, at all. Am I alone here? To this day, I feel like this wonderful record has not gotten its due. Just another example of TATE being under appreciated, I guess.

The Bird is the Word

And now for something that I think we can all agree is very weird…

I’ll start by confessing: I have a powerful aversion to all things Pee-wee Herman. It dates back to when I was a kid, and my Grandma decided to take my brother and I to a movie. I wanted Back to the Future; he wanted Pee-wee’s Big Adventure. He won. (I mean really… can you believe it?) And even though the film featured a cameo from one of my favorite bands at the time, the legendary Twisted Sister, I knew enough to know: this is not high quality entertainment.

If you’re wondering why I’m rambling about Peewee Herman in an article about The Airborne Toxic Event, well… just watch.

I’m so sorry. (But, well played, Murray Jay Siskind!)

Snapshots from the Road

Despite the extraordinarily busy week for The Airborne Toxic Event as they traipsed their way around the east coast, there haven’t been many professional quality photos making their way to the Interwebz (save for The Heavy Press and their Riot Fest Toronto collection). But fans have been stepping up to fill the void, as evidenced by the Crowd Albums for Buffalo, New York, Boston and Philly.

Toxic Gold

One of the highlights of last weekend’s shows was the return of “The Thing About Dreams” to the set. *Spoiler Alert: it is one of the top two fan favorites from Dope Machines, according to our recent TATE fan survey. Here’s the video from Boston, courtesy of Julie. I put it here in hopes that the band will play it when they hit Reno and Sacramento a couple weeks from now.

GlenGlen 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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