TATE Denver: A One Time Thing

Posted: December 6, 2015 in A Little Less Profound
Tags: , ,
The Airborne Toxic Event at Denver's Not So Silent Night. Photo by Kristina.

The Airborne Toxic Event at Denver’s Not So Silent Night. Photo by Kristina.

By Glen

Heading into last night’s appearance by The Airborne Toxic Event at Denver’s Not So Silent Night, it seemed likely the gig would be a welcome but ultimately unremarkable blip in the midst of an extended break for the band. Dinner with some lucky fans before the show (a reward for winners of the band’s latest Shazam contest, which by all accounts was lovely), a brief middle-of-the-bill set (7 songs, as it turned out), and then they’d head back underground for awhile.

Instead, the group found itself at the center of a social media shit-storm after what many are calling the worst performance of their career.

I won’t go too far into the details – you can find them easily enough if you’re interested. It was clear to anyone watching (whether in house or online) that Mikel Jollett was way off his game. There were many factors in play, including a lack of time for a proper soundcheck, terrible technical difficulties, a sick lead singer (which he confirmed at the fan dinner) and, yes, alcohol. It was the perfect storm for a poor performance, and storm it did.

I recently wrote that, through my research for the Toxic History project, I have read hundreds of TATE performance reviews, and I can count the number of bad ones on one hand. Unfortunately, after last night, that is no longer the case. The vitriol reached epic proportions, whether it was from people for whom this was their first experience of the band or, more dishearteningly, from longtime fans who were stunned by what they witnessed.

I know I can easily be dismissed as an Airborne apologist. Though I strive for objectivity, I make no bones about the fact that This Is Nowhere is a fan site. My default position is one of support, and my first instinct is to give them the benefit of the doubt. Five perfect albums and over a thousand thrilling performances have earned them that much, in my opinion.

That being said, it’s difficult to mount a credible defense for what occurred on this one particular night. Yes, there were a number of factors beyond the band’s control that contributed greatly, but there’s no sugarcoating the fact that the response to those circumstances was not good. Mikel and his bandmates would be the first to admit it, I am sure. If this is indeed to be the last we see of them for awhile, it’s a sour taste to be left with, and that is very unfortunate all around. The band, and the fans, deserve better.


This is, in the end, one particular night: a “One Time Thing,” if you like. It is one bad gig among a thousand great ones. It is one time that fans left disappointed, among a thousand times that expectations have been surpassed. It is one night when Mikel let sickness and circumstances get the best of him, among a thousand nights when he has spilled his guts on the stage regardless of how he was feeling or what was going on in his life.

Music fans are consumers, and those who were there last night are justified if they don’t feel like they got their money’s worth. And if they thought it was so bad that they choose never to return, as some have sworn, that too is their right.

As for me, I choose to focus on the thousand, and not on the one. I’ll be first in line the next time they come to my town, whenever that happens to be. I hope you’ll be there with me… and I hope, above all, that Mikel will be well.

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.

  1. Tim de Monkey says:

    I watched this set live on Periscope and it had me feeling confused then terribly concerned. It was like nothing I’d ever seen from them before.
    The social media firestorm that followed was something else and as a huge fan it was painful to witness. I can understand, with the expectations one gets based on all the stellar performances that preceded this one, how disappointed the fans in Denver must be. I hope they’ll come to see this was likely a one-off occurrence (it happens to the best of us) and will come back to the TATE side again.
    Sad way to end their amazing 2015 run, but like you I’ll be waiting first in line for whatever they bring on next.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Toxicfish says:

    Long time fan, first time had the chance to see them live, watched so many videos on line before and was physced to see them live. Really, the only reason I went to the show, that and the fact two teenage daughters wanted to see them and the wombats.

    Needless to say I was shocked, it just wasn’t what we expected. Something was wrong from the start, the sound, the mixing, tuned instruments, alcohol, whatever. Missed lyrics, incoherence, and just not in sync. Very disappointing, but shit happens.

    I just hope I have another chance to see them on their game. I still get chills watching them on you tube and hope I can get the chance again to see them live and nail it, like it looks like they do list of the time.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. […] 5: The Airborne Toxic Event ends their year with a short, controversial set at Denver’s Not So Silent […]


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