These are dark days, my friends.
Though The Airborne Toxic Event will pop their collective head up for a brief (and no doubt glorious) moment Dec. 5 at Denver’s Not So Silent Night, the band has entered an extended hibernation that is expected to drag well into 2016 at the least.
It’s a well deserved break to be sure, and vital to the recharging of their creative batteries, but that doesn’t make it any easier for us fans to deal with. Following a band that has toured as relentlessly as Airborne has over the past 9+ years has made us a spoiled bunch. For those like me who are lucky enough to live somewhere on the group’s regular circuit, the next show has rarely been more than a few months away. We’re just not that accustomed to staring down a TATE-sized void in our lives.
Though we could resort to the tried and true coping mechanism of sucking our thumbs and rocking back and forth in the corner, there are probably more productive ways to deal with the situation. Of course, if all else fails, we could always just set the All I Ever Wanted DVD on repeat. But for those who want to go a bit deeper, here are five ways to survive an Airborne Toxic Drought.
5. Hit the Books
For those who are readers (and given the sophistication of the Airborne audience, that’s probably most of us), there is no shortage of TATE-related reading material out there waiting to be explored. You can keep yourself busy for a long time reading through Mikel Jollett’s pre-Airborne writings, starting with his short story “The Crack” and then moving on to his vast collection of music reviews, interviews and general interest magazine articles. Click here for a full list, with links.
From there, you might dig into some of Jollett’s favorite authors and most significant literary influences, including Milan Kundera, Vladimir Nabokov, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Alice Munroe, Philip Roth and Kurt Vonnegut. Review the band’s books of the week from 2011. Read the short stories that inspired “The Girls in Their Summer Dresses” and “All I Ever Wanted” – and, of course, don’t forget about Don DeLillo’s White Noise, the source of the band’s name and an influence on many of Jollett’s early lyrics.
Closer to home, this would be a great time to catch up on our ongoing Toxic History series tracing the history of the band. We’re 25 chapters in, just finishing up the All at Once era and preparing to delve into Such Hot Blood after Christmas.
4. Pretend It’s Festival Season
We’re a long way from summer, but thanks to YouTube, it’s easy to relive some of TATE’s best festival sets. There are full-length, pro-quality recordings of Lollapalooza 2014, Coachella 2013 and SXSW 2009, as well as professional recordings of individual songs from many other festivals. And that’s without even getting into the countless fan-shot videos from gigs around the world. Check out some of the Airborne YouTube playlists we’ve compiled here.
3. Discover TATE’s Influences
If you’re looking to expand your sonic horizons, get a taste of The Airborne Toxic Event’s musical roots by immersing yourself in their diverse influences. The Cure, a Jollett-favorite and the inspiration behind “Strange Girl,” recently announced a 2016 world tour – a rare opportunity to see them in the flesh. Other oft-cited TATE influences include The Smiths, David Bowie, Bruce Springsteen, Pavement and Passion Pit, among others. You could also work your way through the songs of the day that the band recommended back in 2011. Or, learn more about the Silver Lake music scene from whence Airborne sprung in the documentary film Pass the Music, available for free online viewing (watch for a fleeting TATE sighting in the first few minutes!).
2. Branch Out on the TATE Family Tree
On the other end of the musical spectrum are the artists you’ve discovered through The Airborne Toxic Event. To list all the bands who have opened for TATE or shared a festival bill with them would take more space than we have here, but suffice it to say, whether you’ve been to one Airborne show or twenty, you’ve no doubt been introduced to many other talented musicians along the way. Perhaps now is the time to look them up.
For a more direct link, you’ll definitely want to check out the Airborne band members’ other projects, including The Bulls (Anna Bulbrook), Little Richard tribute act Big Dick (Daren Taylor), Avid Dancer (Adrian Rodriguez) and Twin Shadow (Rodriguez).
1. Go Cuckoo for Koko
Back in 2009, The Airborne Toxic Event filmed a full length performance at Koko, London. Along with their entire first album, the show featured the first ever live performance of “All I Ever Wanted,” an early incarnation of “A Letter to Georgia,” and the ultra-rare “Echo Park.”
The recording was released under the title, NME Presents Does This Mean You’re Moving On: The Airborne Toxic Event Live at Koko, London. Unfortunately, the release was limited to the Qello subscription concert video service, and Google Play. As a result, it remains TATE’s greatest secret, even among hardcore fans: our recent fan survey revealed that just 10% of Airborne fans have seen it.
If you find yourself experiencing nagging symptoms of Airborne Toxic Withdrawal in the coming months, Dr. Jollett prescribes regular doses of this gem of a concert film. Qello offers a free one month trial, so if nothing else, sign up for a month, watch it once a day for 30 days, and then cancel your account if you must. That should at least boost the toxins in your system long enough to hold you over till the band resurfaces – hopefully sooner than later.
Here’s “Wishing Well” from the Koko show:
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.