Posts Tagged ‘Missy’

Randy with Steven Chen and Adrian Rodriguez of The Airborne Toxic Event in Reno, NV

Randy with Steven Chen and Adrian Rodriguez of The Airborne Toxic Event in Reno, NV

Los Toxicos is a monthly feature where we get to know a fan of The Airborne Toxic Event. To nominate a fan (or yourself) for a future month, e-mail us.

Name: Randy Ramsey (@randymanramsey)

Where are you from?

Williston, ND (via Metaline Falls, WA)

Tell us about yourself (who you are, what you do for a living, hobbies, etc.).

I’m Randy Ramsey, 40 years old. Married 14 years with 3 kids, son Jaydis (10) daughters Maleah (8) and Tyleigh (6).

I’m a field engineer for an oil and gas service company in the North Dakota oil fields. My family takes priority over everything in life, but when time allows music and sports are my passions. My wife and I are big UFC fans and have attended 5 fights in Vegas. We love to travel and if we can squeeze in a concert, even better.

It was great meeting some amazing people in Reno (Glen, Thomas and Katie, Kenny, Brooke, Amanda) and forging friendships with others who love the band as much as I do. I regret not going to the Sacramento show. Almost everyone I had met offered me a ride there.

How did you become a fan of The Airborne Toxic Event?

I’m a latecomer to The Airborne Toxic Event party. I’m sure it was in 2012… my introduction, like most, was “Sometime Around Midnight.” I’d heard it on AltNation one night out on a drilling rig. The only line I could remember the next morning was, “You look like you’ve seen a ghost.” I googled the lyric and the rest is history. Instantly hooked. I purchased all the music I could find.

Do any of your family or friends like The Airborne Toxic Event? Did you convert them, or did they convert you?

My daughters Tyleigh (6) and Maleah aka Missy (8) love Airborne Toxic. My son Jaydis (10) likes all music including Airborne. I wouldn’t say he’s on the same level as the girls. My wife Dolly, not so much. Her and I have totally different taste in music. I can guarantee that if I like it, she won’t. She’s into country and hip hop. And I’m into GOOD music.

What does your Airborne Toxic Event collection include?

A couple of shirts, a signed setlist, ticket stub and wristband from the Reno show, and pictures from hanging out after the show.

What’s your favorite TATE song, and why?

Too hard to choose. Right now my favorite is Songs of God and Whiskey. Favorite song has got to be “Missy” (live) because I love hearing my daughters sing along to it.

I think part of the appeal to Airborne Toxic is the lyrics. It really is poetry. The detail in the songwriting, the emotion. I pay attention to lyrics in songs, and hands down the music is brilliant.

Randy with Daren Taylor of The Airborne Toxic Event in Reno, NV

Randy with Daren Taylor of The Airborne Toxic Event in Reno, NV

Have you ever had a special experience at a TATE concert? Tell us about it.

As soon as the Reno show ended, Daren was collecting the setlists. I saw what he was doing and yelled his name. He looked at me, held his hand up and gestured, “Give me a sec…” After collecting all the setlists he reach over the stage and gave me one. I asked if I could get them signed and he told me to come around the back.

He was a man of his word. Also got Steven and Adrian and Anna to sign. This was the night Mikel was sick and went AWOL right after the concert.

When Steven and Adrian signed it, I asked them if they were going to the afterparty at the club across the street. They said they were and to come say hi.

Myself and a couple other fans were waiting for Anna and Mikel to come out (not knowing that he was gone for night). Anna come out, talked and took pictures with fans. As she signed my setlist she asked if I had seen where Steven, Daren, and Adrian had gone. I told her they had said they were going to the club for the afterparty. I walked across the street with her (and a couple other fans). Entered the party. Chatted with the guys from Sir Sly for a few minutes. Bought Steven and Adrian and Daren a couple rounds. Steven kept thanking me for the drinks and stated he didn’t have any cash on him because he didn’t go back to his room after the show. I told him it was no problem, it was my honor to buy them drinks.

Randy and Steven at the afterparty.

Randy and Steven at the afterparty.

It was very loud in the club and we all left. When we got outside a couple other guys recognized Adrian and Steven. One was a band member from Zella Day, the other was from Cold War Kids (both bands were playing the next night at Cargo). We walked around downtown Reno for a bit. We lost Daren. Hit a liquor store. Walked around more. Found Daren. It was surreal. We finally made our way back to Cargo. Hung out some more.

Steven told me a couple stories that night. I won’t share them but if you get a chance to meet him and hang out ask him about the keyboard that they built into the junked piano. And how everyone hated it (except Mikel). And ask him about their night in Vancouver, BC, the bar and police.

What’s on your Airborne Toxic Event bucket list?

To get them to play a show in North Dakota.

Are there any other bands you would recommend that Airborne fans check out?

Augustines (formerly called We Are Augustines). They are probably the second most played on my iPod. Here’s a little sample…

I’m also a huge Killers fan, and they’re a great live show if you ever get the chance to see them.

A shot from Reno:

Mikel Jollett, Steven Chen and The Airborne Toxic Event under the neon lights of Reno. Photo by Randy.

Mikel Jollett, Steven Chen and The Airborne Toxic Event under the neon lights of Reno. Photo by Randy.

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Like a bow on strings: Anna Bulbrook of The Airborne Toxic Event. Photo by Ryan Macchione, 2015.

Like a bow on strings: Anna Bulbrook of The Airborne Toxic Event. Photo by Ryan Macchione, 2015.

By Colleen

Life is so busy now, writing has become a lot like the friends I think about often but with whom I never get to spend time, lingering like you do when the connection is so strong you don’t actually want to leave.  I can’t linger in creativity like I used to, when there are deadlines and turn-around time at work, and naptimes that seem to shorten in duration every day.

Music is played in the background like an afterthought, not for studious consideration in the days before Toddler Life.  It’s hard to focus on the meaning of a lyric or a chorus when you’re constantly looking over your shoulder and making sure your kid doesn’t hurt himself while he moves dining room furniture around.

The cognitive awareness of his needs and anticipating his next move is so mentally draining, by the end of the day I have little energy for anything other than mindlessly checking Facebook status updates and scrolling through pictures on Instagram.  Writing stuff down – as much as I love engaging in the wordplay and emotional connection through art – just seems like another task.

But I’m not complaining.  I love this life, and if it means never writing another word, I will be okay.  Of course, nobody is asking that of me, but that’s just how much I enjoy what I do.  Being a mom trumps everything.  It’s an honor and a gift not afforded to just anyone.

I don’t go to shows like I used to, nor do I have the time for diligent attention to a certain beloved band’s activities, but the love that I have for music has been transferred and repotted like a houseplant I love to nurture.  Only now can I share it with the little person in my life who demands all my time and attention.  “Let’s enjoy this together,” I think, and I will put on music.  Let’s dance and learn to sing.  Let’s learn some new words and learn the lyrics.  Let’s nurture this love of music, because it is very well in your DNA – not just from me, but from generations before me and your dad – your grandparents, your great-grandparents, and so on.  This is your heritage only we can show you, so let’s start with the music I love and grow from there.

For reasons only he knows, the Airborne song “Missy” has been on repeat in our house.  Except, when he asks for it by name, it’s “Mimi.”  He likes the elongated notes of the lyrics “Just as long as I’m never aloooooone” and “I’d follow you even if it was wrooooonnng” and has started cutting his teeth literally and figuratively on those notes, attempting to sing them on key.  He loves the portion of the song from the All I Ever Wanted DVD with the girls’ choir singing along, and he lights up when Dad plays the song on the guitar for him and we all join in.

Of course, this isn’t the only song he likes, or the last (“Hey Jude” is another favorite, the ‘nah-nah-nahs’  being solidly in his vocabulary), but this song and this band, this is a love that we share together, as mother and son, and family.

Today he asked for “Mimi” just like he does every day, so I put on the DVD and we watched it together until he started rubbing his eyes.  I scooped him up and put him to bed, letting the DVD play with no audience until I returned to the living room to turn it off.  I have seen this show and this band now dozens of times, and these songs are as familiar to me like folk songs in the country of my heart, but I sat down anyway and watched for a moment since the need for me to look over my shoulder was sleeping soundly in the other room.

That pause in a parent’s life, when the dust settles for a moment and you can see the hands in front of you and your plans in the distance, as well as the life you’ve left behind, all came into focus in that moment watching Anna pull the bow across her viola during “This Losing.”

For as often as I’ve heard this song, the goosebumps still rise with the memories right behind them at the surface, of where I was four years ago when these songs were playing in the background like an afterthought.  When I was pregnant and living a distracted life, and expecting it to turn out differently.  Inside my body was a little person developing hair and teeth, limbs and hands, feet and fingers.  And ears.  In the background of my life, I was hearing this music, and so was he.  And though our time together was so excruciatingly brief, we, too, had shared this music together.  Mother and son.  Family.

I have a couple painful anniversaries on the horizon this summer.  Birth and death, and the heartbreak and pain that surrounds them as thick as fog.  But intertwined in these memorials are anniversaries of first shows and concerts, first-time meetings of band members who had no idea their kindness meant so much, and all the love and compassion and connection I’ve received through music.  Of going on and living a life with purpose, and now sharing that life and music with someone else.  I couldn’t be more grateful.  And it’s that gratitude that pulls me through the pain, like a bow on strings.

When she’s not front row at a TATE show with a bird emblazoned on her face, Colleen can be found blogging regularly at These Stunning Ruins, where this post originally appeared. She and her husband have also been known to occasionally lay down a wicked Airborne cover.

The Airborne Toxic Event, MissyBy Yules

How did it all begin?

It seems like I haven’t got much of a story to tell you all, really – I’m a relatively young fan. I’ve not lived enough of life to know that much about it. I only have a few, if any, truly profound experiences in my life up to now, but still, I’d like to share this with you.

My story is a story about imagination. And, well, music. Being that you’re reading this here.

Music, I found, was a way of pretty much losing myself, of celebrating little things in life and telling short stories in just a few minutes. Aged 12, I’d boldly claimed that I hated all music. Five years later, armed with an iPod, I was a changed woman.

Aged 17 – insert “Gasoline” jokes here – I discovered Airborne.

It began in a bizarre way; somewhere I’d glimpsed a strange name belonging to a strangely named band, and found myself on iTunes listening to the preview of Track 1. I liked Track 1 and bought that and loved it even more after listening in full – but the rest was untouched. It was only towards the end of that year that I returned for a few more tracks.

I turned 18 in early 2015, and within a week, I had bought my first two complete, physical albums. Ever. I’d never found a reason to before – digital albums on iTunes were in themselves a rarity for me – but this time, the whole thing was damn worth it. Something clicked and that was all I listened to for weeks.

It was insane.

What began with “Wishing Well” became a mad cascade. Mad, but absolutely beautiful.

**********

How did that all begin?

The first cut was probably made some years ago; the first time I learned to hold a craft scalpel in school and felt that strange plastic handle press firm into my fingertips. I wondered how sharp the blade itself was, if only pressing on a bit of plastic was already causing such discomfort. My fingers were numbed quickly.

I wasn’t very good at this… paper-cutting lark. The first cuts were probably a mess, to the point where I’m glad I’ve forgotten them. But… it was all a sort of beginning, way back then. I wasn’t much good, but that was only the start.

But now, let’s fast forward. It’s 2015. Tour announcement.

The one thing I was sure of was that I had to go and see this damn band; the tickets came out and the ticket was bought within the hour.

I was already repeating tracks and albums and shamelessly humming and whistling sections of melodies. From the introduction of that very first song, to the extravagance of “All At Once” and “The Fifth Day” and the simple beauty of “Graveyard…” (Confession: I genuinely cried the first couple of times I listened to “The Graveyard Near The House.”) Even the new release hasn’t failed in my books; far from it, and Songs of God and Whiskey is also a delight.

The Airborne Toxic Event, The Graveyard Near the House

With everything, I loved whatever the band threw at me. Lyrics, vibes, string-section flourishes.

And that’s how the images came.

The Airborne Toxic Event, Strangers

**********

How did this all begin?

Have you ever listened to a song and felt like there was a cinema in the back of your head?

That’s what it felt like to me. Airborne wasn’t the first band to play their ‘five minute feature’ to me, but they were definitely significant.

I imagined strange scenes, like animations. Silhouettes, black-and-white dances, rising and falling in and out of nowhere, flowers and storms and dreams and broken glass… Take “The Fifth Day” and imagine strangeness and darkness for hours and hours; then a pause, then move the curtain, and let everything be light. Take “All I Ever Wanted” and picture it: a steely firearm in your hands, and clutch your weapon tighter, and be brave, and oust your demons from existence.

It sounds cliché, but it’s all there.

I was bored in class one day, and began to draw, and realised what I was seeing on paper. I realised that the things I could not animate could come alive in another way.

I thought of the artists I’d Googled years ago, in search of art class inspiration. I thought of the simple images I needed to show and the words that came with them, soft and beautiful and sharp and twisting and fantastic.

I had a paper knife and a cutting mat.

Perfect.

**********

I posted my first piece on Twitter in March. It was an impulsive image, one that had emerged in my head in the middle of that day. What had begun as a pair of birds doodled in a moment of boredom had grown and developed into a small piece of lyric art.

The Airborne Toxic Event's "Chains"

The song was “Chains.” Why? It just happened to be in my head at the time, I guess. It took a few hours to complete, from planning to rough sketch to execution. I was rusty, having not cut paper for a while, but I was proud of what I’d achieved.

That same evening, I logged on to read the next post about the songs of Dope Machines.

I did not realise how significant Mikel’s final paragraph about ‘Something You Lost’ was until I saw an isolated sentence again the following day.

It justhit me.

I dreamt. That evening, I realised that the quote needed to be cut out.

The following day, on Friday evening, work began. Work ended on Sunday, and after some conflict with the scanner – ‘dope machines’ indeed – it was ready. I posted on Sunday night.

The Airborne Toxic Event's "Something You Lost"

24 hours later, it had received what to me was significant attention. I’d been a nobody.

I was in shock.

This messy, imperfect thing had been seen. And there were compliments. Even the band had retweeted.

I couldn’t believe it.

**********

I took up the knife again the day after. From the conception of the twin birds of “Chains” to the frustration behind cutting out the letter ‘S’ multiple times, the letters had all passed through my head. I had more images inside.

The Airborne Toxic Event, The Storm

I was in personal awe of the things I was doing. I was putting blade to paper to cutting mat, dreaming and for once, realising these strange, silhouetted visions. There was hope yet of me expressing the strange fantasies that circled around my head as I heard a song play.

I’d had the words and now I had the pictures. It was delightful. Perfect, imperfect, I was getting things out. Dreaming on paper. Realising those dreams. Being on fire inside; somehow enjoying the numb, calloused fingertips and harsh plastic in my hands.

There’s something about expressing yourself. It’s a feeling of happiness.

The Airborne Toxic Event, Time to be a Man

What began as something small grew into an intense but amusing project.

I decided to challenge myself; I thought I’d do as many papercuts as I could before I saw TATE for the first time in mid-April. Weeks of work later, and an ugly callus staining my finger, I settled for 10 images. There were far more mental images and far more songs to portray, but for now, it was all I could do.

The final image, unlike the others, lacked words and incorporated a shocking burst of colour. It was posted at the appropriate time of 12am, on the day of the show I was to attend.

The Airborne Toxic Event's "Sometime Around Midnight"

**********

The show itself. I was nervous about it for weeks; nervous to the minute. Nervous about anything and everything. I went with it.

Hours later, after the end, I came away smiling like a fool (also sweaty as hell – but with two autographs and some conversations!) having learned three things:

  1. The band is fantastic live.
  2. Do not be afraid – everything is definitely worth it.
  3. The fans I met are proof that I am part of a family of sorts.

…and of course, I wasn’t an ‘Airborne virgin’ any more. The stupid, awkward fears I’d had before now lay slain behind me.

The Airborne Toxic Event, Timeless

Through showing my art and jumping into the full experience, I am definitely reassured. I am one of thousands of fans, many of whom attend shows, and a number of whom contribute to this blog. I seriously don’t know how I’d feel about showing my work to the online world without all of this wonderful company and the knowledge that there are other enthusiasts out there. Others mad and much, much madder.

And you know what? It’s great to be mad.

So thank you for giving me the courage to create and submit my work and to share it all with you. Thank you for the kind words and the encouragement. Thank you to the concertgoers and the blog writers and the reviewers and the photographers and all of the rest. Thank you all.

Is this true love? Well, I don’t know. It’s just my best guess.

What I do know is that the first show, just like the first cut and the first song, is only the beginning.

The Airborne Toxic Event, The Fall of Rome

The Airborne Toxic EventBy Glen

Ed. Note: Just 16 days from now, The Airborne Toxic Event will take to the stage of The Fillmore in San Francisco, CA, to play their self-titled debut album from front to back. They’ll do the same the following two nights with their next two albums, All At Once and Such Hot Blood. As part of our countdown to this momentous occasion, each of This Is Nowhere’s writing staff will share why one of these albums is their favorite TATE record. Today, Glen makes the case for the debut; on Sept. 9, Jamie will delve into the sophomore album; and on Sept. 16 Julie will tackle the band’s most recent release.

One need only flip to the second page of the CD booklet of The Airborne Toxic Event’s eponymous 2009 release to confirm that you’ve got something special in your hands.

At a glance, the lyrics to “Wishing Well” look more like the first chapter of a novel than the opening song of a rock ‘n’ roll album. Which is fitting because, in a way, that’s exactly what they are.

As per TATE’s founding mythology, Mikel Jollett started out writing a book, and ended up writing an album. The truth of the legend is plainly evident in the utter lack of concern the writer exhibits for anything resembling traditional song structure throughout the ten-song collection. The music of The Airborne Toxic Event has been described as story set to music and poetry you can dance to, and it is in this first album that this well-deserved reputation was forged.

In the years between then and now, Mikel has grown immeasurably in his craft as a songwriter. He has become ever more adept at spinning his tales concisely; more proficient at weaving his yarns around the choruses and hooks that large audiences seem to require. This is undeniably a positive development.

AND YET…

The imperfect perfection of this naive and lovely first effort is equally undeniable. Here, a thousand words are worth far more than a picture. Here, a beating heart carved from a writer’s chest and placed on a shelf for all to gawk at captivates more powerfully than a mere chorus ever could. Here, we are drawn into a world we may never have lived in, and may never choose to inhabit, but which inexplicably feels like home nonetheless.

I could talk about the songs: how the mournful wail of the viola that opens “Sometime Around Midnight” never fails to send a chill ripping straight down my spine; how screaming out the final desperate lines to “Missy” in noisy, rowdy unison with 1,000 other voices in a crowd, all of them failing after two hours of singing along to every verse, provides unmatched catharsis; how “Innocence” moves my soul more deeply with its instrumentation alone than virtually any other song can do with words.

Or I could talk about the vocabulary: how words like mescaline and coquette and accoutrements and courtesan just don’t belong in rock songs, until you hear them here and realize that of course they do.

Or I could talk about the live shows, and how recent setlists suggest that the band members themselves seem to privilege their earlier work, whether because of their own personal preference for it or a nagging suspicion (right or wrong) that this is what the audience will respond to most enthusiastically.

But it all comes back to story. The stories told here are not my stories, but they have become mine. No, not mine – ours. Mikel’s stories have become the band’s stories have become the fans’ stories, and that’s what we’ll all gather together to celebrate those three sacred nights at The Fillmore.

If you ask me tomorrow to name my favorite album by The Airborne Toxic Event, I might give you a different answer. I might tell you that “The Graveyard Near the House” has the most profound lyrics I have ever heard put to music, and therefore I must choose All At Once. I might try to explain how the musical expedition that is “Safe,” with its peaks and its valleys and its whispers and its screams and its back and forth between Mikel and Anna and viola and guitar and Everything, leaves me exhilarated every time, compelling me to pick Such Hot Blood.

But without this tortured maiden voyage into the wounded depths of the writer’s psyche, there is no All At Once or Such Hot Blood. It is here that the stories are first told; here that the world which would later be fleshed out in bright and shiny color is first sketched in pencil.

Not everyone sees what we see in this picture. Some just cannot overlook the rough edges and the lack of polish and that damn, bloody bird. To them, it all just looks like such a mess.

But what a beautiful mess it is.

Glen, Fan of The Airborne Toxic EventGlen 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.

Mikel Jollett preps a young guitarist for his first performance. Photo by Glen, Vancouver, Jan. 25, 2014.

Mikel Jollett preps a young guitarist for his first performance.
Photo by Glen, Vancouver, Jan. 25, 2014.

By Nicole

As a concert goer and music fan, I love seeing band members interact with each other, and with their fans. Some of the best moments in live music history have involved one of the two – or sometimes on certain, special occasions… both!

Mutemath, my second favorite band, has some of the craziest high-energy performances I have ever seen. They know how to entertain. Norah Jones, who creates some incredibly beautiful music, talked to the crowd more than any other band or musician I have witnessed in my short 22 years. She was making small talk, and bantering with the crowd and her band all night long. On top of the relaxed, musical atmosphere, the crowd and band engagement made for a really enjoyable night. And if anyone has ever seen Flogging Molly in concert you know what I mean when I say that watching them jam out makes me, the viewer, flat out exhausted from all the energy they bring to the stage. Especially in today’s ever changing music industry, putting on a good live performance seems to be critical to making a living for bands and musicians.

You cannot say that a YouTube or Vine video recreates the same feeling as a live concert. No sir! No ma’am! Seeing a band live is one of the best feelings because it is a collective excitement shared by all of the fans in the room, and ideally that energy is shared by the bands that are taking the stage throughout the night.

As good as the bands mentioned above are, to me (and I am sure to a good portion of the This Is Nowhere audience), The Airborne Toxic Event takes the cake when it comes to live performances. And while it may not be even close to the thrill of seeing them live, there are some really great TATE moments caught on camera. So, I present to you my favorite YouTube videos of The Airborne Toxic Event live in concert.

5. Changing, Featuring a Young Fan, Filmed by Brook Pooni Associates in Vancouver

I mean, COME ON! How cute is this? I have absolutely no doubt that this kid will be a fan for life now that he has had the chance to play onstage with his favorite band. Watching or hearing about moments like this always reaffirms my love for this band. It never really occurred to me how many kids are into The Airborne Toxic Event until the band posted on their Facebook late last year the picture of Anna and hardcore, 9 year old fan Megan (megantheshy as Anna calls her, I think?). There were some parents posting in the comments and on the band’s wall about their own kids. Then, shortly after, they posted a picture of one fan’s kids who were seriously rocking the mini-Steven and mini-Anna looks. Adorable! I know there are other similar accounts out there too, and just reading parents’ stories about what these people have done for their young fans over the years makes me insanely happy! (And I know you don’t know me, but congrats to Colleen on your newest little TATE fan. I thought the TATE themed baby shower was perfect!)

4. Mikel Scales the Orpheum Theatre Balcony, Filmed by Julie in Boston

When I was watching this video for the first time I was really, really, really hoping that Mikel would climb that ladder in the back of the theatre. How epic would that be? But I just don’t think it would have been stable enough.

Pushing the boundaries for on-stage antics seems to be a hobby for TATE, and especially the front man. After slithering his way up to the balcony seats, embarrassing Anna’s parents and family, jumping from one platform to another to mingle with fans, and casually gliding back down to the stage, Mikel decided that wasn’t enough. He jumped off stage and made a high-five beeline straight to the back. And he accomplished all this while singing two upbeat, high-energy songs. Who does that? Crazy people. Crazy people who I want to see in concert over and over again, that’s who!

3. Does This Mean Your Moving On? Filmed by Pokabeb at ACL 2011, Austin

So much awesomeness in one video I can’t even comprehend. First off, I love that Mikel was just jumping from speaker to speaker in the intro of the video.  Once he’s finished and is heading back to the stage to climb the pillars, Anna jumps down and motions to the crowd that she is going to jump. Then she proceeds to blow everyone’s minds by sailing through the air, and landing on top of the audience for a briefly lived crowd surf before (correct me if I am wrong) Punchy yanks her back down and she heads to the stage. I guess Mikel is not the only crazy person in this band. Thank goodness for that because it makes for great, nerve-wracking entertainment. Shortly after, Anna climbs onto Noah’s shoulders and jams out while the rest of the band is keeping an eye on daredevil Mike, who is probably 20-30 feet above stage level now. Once the song concludes, Anna falls fearlessly backwards into Punchy’s arms, and Mikel descends from the sky to start the next song. If I were in this audience I would certainly be thinking, “These people are FREAKING AWESOME!” because that is what I still think re-watching the video two years later.

2. Rita Featuring the Drowning Men, Filmed by Julie in Boston

This is one of my favorite Airborne videos. They all look like they are having such a great time despite the tragedy that had happened the night before. As the lead singer of The Drowning Men states in the beginning of the video, the opening act’s van had been hit by a drunk driver traveling on the interstate, and consequently their vehicle was trashed. Thankfully, the crash left the band members and their equipment with no permanent damage. He goes on to say that the Airborne Toxic crew turned their bus around, and put the band and all their equipment on their tour bus. That must have been some crowded sleeping quarters! The level of companionship in this epic moment makes me smile every time.

1. Missy Medley, Filmed by Jessica in Sacramento

There really is nothing to say about this one except… God, I love this band. I’ll just let the videos speak for themselves!

Nicole is a university student majoring in Chemistry, but loves listening to music. She was introduced to TATE by one of her good college friends, and has attended her first Airborne concert recently. Now she is patiently waiting for them to hit the road again on another U.S. tour!

Steven Chen of The Airborne Toxic Event Photo by TATE fan Ryan Macchione

Steven Chen of The Airborne Toxic Event
Photo by TATE fan Ryan Macchione

By Christina

Ed. Note: This is the fifth in a six part series in which fans of The Airborne Toxic Event select their Top 5 musical moments of their favorite band member. Previous entries: Mikel Jollett’s Top 5 Vocals; Daren Taylor, the Ultimate Beat Keeper; Anna Bulbrook, Classically Trained Punk Rock Chick; Noah Harmon: Classical Rock God. Next week: Mikel’s Top 5 Lyrics.

Steven Chen (also known as The Chen or The Chenster), by all accounts, is probably the quietest of the Airborne bunch, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t have presence on stage. This writer/journalist/musician started his musical career at the age of six when his parents forced him to learn the piano, so it made sense when Mikel asked Steven to join their band to play keys. But Steven insisted that he’d rather play guitar, and so with the final piece in place, The Airborne Toxic Event was formed.

Steven has always been a favorite of mine to watch onstage, so I was more than happy to contribute my Top 5 Steven “moments.”

5. The Steven “Hair Flicks”

Coined by my friend Stephanie, Steven’s “hair flicks” are probably his signature move. While Steven is usually reserved on stage, flashing brief smiles and head nods to the fans that call his name during the a show, he will come to the edge of the stage and lean out toward the crowd, head banging in time with Daren’s cymbal crashes.

I asked Steven once why he doesn’t interact more with the crowd, especially when they are trying to get his attention, and he said it “throws him off.” Ha! I don’t believe Steven could be so easily distracted!

4. Papillon

This song fell off the set list for most of the All At Once tour, so I was very pleased to see it resurrected for several shows this past year. That distinctive opening riff carries the entire track and drives the crowd into a frenzy. It often follows “Does This Mean You’re Moving On?” at the shows I’ve been to, and it just Doesn’t. Let. Up. One of my favorite songs live, in this video, there are a few good shots of Steven shredding.

3. Missy

The set closer for almost every live show the band has ever played, this song features The Chen on keyboard for most of the song, but he also bounces back to resume the guitar parts for the medleys and then back to the keyboard. I chose this particular video (it’s an entire set plus an interview, actually) because at the 44:58 mark, Steven’s mike is turned up too loud (or he’s too close), and you actually get to hear him sing! I personally think Steven should sing more often!

2. Gasoline – the “Guitar/Viola Off” with Anna

Coming up with my number 2 and 1 choices for favorite Steven moments was pretty tough. This is a fan favorite at any live show. Mikel pits Steven and his guitar against Anna and her viola, but the great thing is everyone wins! Some trivia: this song is where Mikel often refers to Steven as Steve McQueen.

See the 2:55 mark in this show from 2007:

And as a bonus (because I couldn’t pick between the two), see the 2:24 mark from this show in Vegas in 2012 (and at some shows you get to witness some tomfoolery from Mikel, too!):

1. Wishing Well

I remember the first time I was down on the barricade in front of Steven at a live show, mesmerized by his Ebow. His Ebow, not his elbow! At the time I had no idea what he was using to produce those sounds, and later a forum member finally shed some light on my query. It’s an electronic device held over the strings of an electric guitar to mimic the sound of a bow on strings by using the electromagnetic field the Ebow creates. When you hear those haunting notes coming from Steven’s guitar, you know you’re in for an emotional ride, and this is probably my favorite Steven moment during a show.

To stay up with all your Steven Chen news, please feel free to “like” my unofficial Steven Chen fan page on FB: https://www.facebook.com/airborne.steven.chen

Purchase the Best of Steven:

Papillon
Missy
Gasoline
Wishing Well

Christina: Fan of The Airborne Toxic EventChristina lives in Orange County, California and between her kids, her job, and school still manages to catch several Airborne shows a year. In addition to maintaining her Steven Chen fan page, Christina is also the administrator of the band’s forum on their official site: www.theairbornetoxicevent.com/forum.

By Jamie

I have been an avid Airborne Toxic Event fan for as long as I can remember. My story starts out the same as most—I heard “Sometime Around Midnight” about four years ago, and after that unmatched, beautiful string opening, I was hooked. Since that day, I’ve seen the group whenever possible—five times so far, though I wish it was more.

The second to last time I saw them, last year, holds particularly great fondness for me. I was living in the Chicago at the time (having since moved to Texas) and upon searching through their latest tour dates, my breath caught. They were playing in Chicago on New Year’s Eve, which also happens to be my birthday. I had to go. The only problem? The tickets were quite pricey and none of my friends dig the group as much as me (which baffles me to no end, but I digress).

In the past, my boyfriend had always gone to the shows with me, but he was living in Texas at the time and we were doing long distance. I called him on the phone and had a few minutes of overwhelming panic, mixed with grief, mixed with anger at possibly not getting to see my favorite group on New Year’s Eve and my birthday.

After immaturely sulking all day, I received an email from my boyfriend. A flight confirmation? I was confused. Then another email came along—a receipt for two tickets to see TATE on New Year’s Eve. My jaw dropped.

The next few months were riddled with excitement and anxiety regarding the New Year’s Eve show. I could barely contain myself. And then the night came. It was beautiful, wonderful, emotional—all words other fans have used to describe TATE performances. I had seen the group several times before in Chicago, New York and Texas, but this night was unlike any other.

New Year’s Eve is the party of all parties, so to see a band that night means that for everyone in attendance, it has to be your all-time favorite group. (And Metro, the venue, was packed—further proof that TATE fans are die-hard fans). Aside from all the other festivities that come along with New Year’s Eve—the balloons, the champagne, the confetti—the night was perfect. Especially the finale.

Every other time I’d seen TATE, they played “Missy” as their last song—such a perfect way to end a show. This time was the same, but the song had a 10-15 minute (I’m not exaggerating) interjection of The Clash’s “I Fought the Law,” ending right when the clock struck midnight. People went nuts—sweaty, screaming bodies everywhere, jumping around, yelling the lyrics—the whole shebang.

The night was one I’ll never forget.  Starting a brand new year with the love of my life surprising me was one thing, but having it all set against the musical backdrop of the greatest band on earth (I’m not exaggerating) made the night so memorable for me. I still have that night’s poster framed and hanging in my kitchen as a constant reminder of a beautiful night.

Jamie, fan of The Airborne Toxic EventA recent graduate of NYU, Jamie Friedlander is a word-loving freelance writer and editor. She has worked in New York and Chicago (her hometown) and currently works and resides in Dallas. She is a huge TATE fan and tries to see the group whenever possible. Her favorite song is a tie between “Missy” and “The Fifth Day.”