In case there was any doubt that The Airborne Toxic Event meant it when they said in late October that they were going quiet, we did not have cause to write a single issue of Toxicity during the month of November – the longest break we’ve taken in over two years. Even this post is probably better titled Tox-ish-ity, as much of this “news” is more Airborne-adjacent than truly focused on the band. But, we’ve got a backlog of stuff to clear out before the holidays, so here we go.
Under the heading of ‘Better Late Than Never’ comes Pop Matters’ late breaking review of the final show of Airborne’s Whiskey Machine Tour, way back on Oct. 22 at the Wiltern in Los Angeles. It’s not often that TATE and Guns ‘N’ Roses are cited together, but reviewer Greg Schwartz does just that:
“It’s nice to be home in Los Angeles, where no one understands you and everyone understands you,” Jollett noted as an intro to “California” (a tune that appears on both of the new albums with differing arrangements.) Jollett was tapping into a deeper concept of LA here, with its multi-dimensional nature of being “stuck in the same scene of nightmares and daydreams.” The song’s mixed emotions recalled Axl Rose’s sentiment at the end of Guns ‘N’ Roses summer ‘91 tour at the LA Forum when he said that “LA is a place where all your dreams can come true, but it can also be the loneliest place in the world.”
TATE Fan provides the video evidence:
Tomorrow night, the band’s exile ends very briefly when they return to action at Denver’s Not So Silent Night. It’s likely to be a fairly short set, but ten lucky fans (and their plus-ones’) will be more than satisfied after having dinner with the band, thanks to their latest “One Time Thing” Shazam contest.
In slightly Airborne-related news…
- If you’re interested in learning more about the environment from whence The Airborne Toxic Event sprung, you’ll want to check out Pass the Music. The feature-length documentary examines the prolific Eastside Los Angeles music scene around the time of Airborne’s birth; in fact, there’s even a TATE-sighting in the first few minutes of the film. I confess, I haven’t actually had time to watch it yet myself, but I’ve heard good things and it’s definitely on my holiday To Do list.
- Singer-songwriter Dar Williams penned a heartfelt editorial for American Songwriter, explicating the economic realities faced by middle-class touring musicians like Airborne. It’s eye-opening to be sure, even for those who are already familiar with the issues. So much to chew on here. It gives you even more appreciation for the sacrifices these artists make to fill our lives with music.
The Attitude of Gratitude will not fix what’s happened here. Our industry is not sustainable right now. Patronage helps (you know who you are). People who still believe in buying music help (you truly do—you make all the difference at this moment). Crowd-sourcing campaigns have varying levels of success (I had a good run and am grateful). Thank goodness for flush car companies whose ads depict couples doing happy things to the soundtrack of artists under forty.
But to the ethos of endless music consumption with no investment: BOO. To bloggers who tell David Byrne to keep playing his pretty music but leave the income distribution math to the experts: BOO. To the industry people who tell us there is still money, it’s just in different places: BOO. And to ALL streaming entities right now: BOO BOO BOO.
Yes, you can still jump in your car (gas is even at 1995 prices) and gig around the country, and the road food you find is likely to have less cholesterol and gluten. Yes, the world out there, in my experience, is greener, kinder, and more emotionally sophisticated than when I began. You can go gig to gig and live hand to mouth and then some. But when you want to grow that career to bring in a wider palette of sound, pay for a motel room, hire a person to keep things organized so that your creative spirit doesn’t collapse under a load of traveling minutiae, or make music that blows out of the speakers and transforms a listener, that’s when touring is much, much harder. And I think the world will miss seeing full indie bands on stage (I’m not talking about PepsiCo funded Katy Perry spectacles, beautiful as they are), not to mention the luxuriant, idolatrous, complicated, intelligent production of XTC albums (they stopped touring) or Beatles albums (ditto). There’s only so much a cool band t-shirt will pay for in a world that doesn’t want to buy that band’s recorded music.
- Finally, if your love of The Airborne Toxic Event turned you on to author Don DeLillo (White Noise), here’s something to look forward to: his next novel, Zero K, will hit store shelves in May.
Most of Anna Bulbrook’s attention of late has been devoted to recording with the Bulls. While we wait for their debut album, the final recording from their fall session at Blind Blind Tiger has been released. Here is “Small Problems.”
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.