Tag Archives: Airborne Toxic Event

An Airborne Toxic Orchestra Event – Summerstage 2013

22 Jun


It was around halfway through the show when Airborne Toxic Event lead singer Mikel Jollett joked with the crowd that he may mess up “Dublin,” a new song he had only played a few times live. But as he plucked the first few acoustic notes of the piece, the sky painted on the horizon transformed from a dense gray to a palette of pink that penetrated the skyscrapers and accentuated the rich music. The halcyon scene demonstrated the model of an outdoor concert. But, the weather doesn’t always respond.


As the above picture suggests, when we arrived to Central Park Summerstage, the weather was less than ideal. A persistent sprinkle fell on umbrellas and Summerstage ponchos. The Calder Quartet, a LA-based string quartet that has become an Airborne Toxic Event staple, opened, and, for the most part, drove the rain away.

Ensemble LPR, an assemblage of the finest New York-based concert musicians, joined The Calder Quartet on stage after the Quartet’s opening act. If one stumbled into Summerstage – which was quite possible considering that the concert was free (thanks to the generous City Parks Foundation), he/she might have assumed the crowd had gathered for a classical orchestra. And that was one of the most gripping parts of the show. It was just not your typical rock show.


But, to be honest, I don’t believe anyone in the audience was expecting a typical rock show, because Airborne Toxic Event does not put on a typical rock show. The energy and skill demonstrated by the band is striking. It is not just music; it is art. Instead of simply creating catchy alt/rock pieces, Airborne Toxic Event prefers to script a scene (much like the inspiration for the band’s name, Don DeLillo), and this ability sets the band apart from others.

Perhaps the greatest indication of this individuality was the crowd at the show. Lining the front row barrier behind the photo pit was a wide array of ages, and, most surprisingly, everyone knew the words to each song. These were Airborne Toxic Event diehards, and, unlike with most bands, I couldn’t typify the standard Airborne Toxic Event fan. This evinces the diversity of the band and explains its growing audience.


The crowded stage of talented musicians produced a full orchestra sound that elevated the show. It is clear that Airborne Toxic Event is not a band; it’s a symphony, a full on powerhouse that combines the potency of a full orchestra with a traditional genre and bends it. The resulting amalgamation is music that could only have been created by the mind of true artists!

This was best portrayed by the performance of “Sometime Around Midnight,” one of my favorite Airborne Toxic Event songs because of its sheer ardor. Not only did the orchestra carry the crescendo, but also most individuals in the audience knew the lyrics and emphatically sang along. It was electric.


Airborne Toxic Event concluded the encore with a jam-packed version of “Missy” that featured teasers from American classics, “Ring of Fire,” “Born in the USA,” and “American Girl.”

Overall, while wet at times, Airborne Toxic Event put together a tremendous show, packed with oodles of impressive sound, and much credit to the Calder Quartet and Ensemble LPR who helped carry the show with precision and fervor. Throughout the show lead singer Mikel Jollett effusively thanked the crowd for joining the band at Summerstage, and the band’s humility was refreshing, but considering the tremendous entertainment that the band provided, it was the crowd that thanked the band for one of best free concerts I’ve been a part of – rain or no rain. As Jollett said in his introduction, “f*ck it, it’s Central Park!”

Check out the Summerstage schedule.

Airborne Toxic Event – Summerstage Preview

10 Jun

Airborne Toxic Event

There are many reasons to like Airborne Toxic Event. As I have written in the past, the band plays an infectious alt/rock style that pulls influences from the 80s and mixes these influences with theatrical vocals and riffs. This amalgamation creates an intriguing aura of orchestral sound that echoes and pulses.

The music is also “smart” rock. It’s a neoteric genre. Let’s be honest; a lot of music today is, well, nescient – intellectually dumbed down for an audience that just wants to hear a consistent beat. That is not to say that the producers and creators of the music are unintelligent – they are simply playing to what will make money. But Airborne Toxic Event is different. The band is made up of uber-talented musicians who understand how to mix “smart” rock with infectious rhythms.

I initially became interested in the band because of lead vocalist Mikel Jollett. Jollett, a fiction and freelance writer, began seriously writing songs after a string of moribund events in his life. He named the band after a tremendous section of my favorite Don DeLillo book “White Noise.” The life-altering events that engendered the band’s creation are similar to “The Airborne Toxic Event” portrayed in DeLillo’s masterpiece. Thus, as a writer, Jollett’s lyrics are laden with symbolism and passion.

The Airborne Toxic Event, fresh off the release of its new album Such Hot Blood, will join a large Summerstage crowd in Central Park (5th Avenue and 72nd Street entrance) on June 18. Best of all – the concert is FREE. Yes, free as in no money. The band will be joined by The Calder Quartet, a LA-based string quartet, who have been called “outstanding” and “superb” by the New York Times. So, yeah, free Airborne Toxic Event show with The Calder Quartet in Central Park – you should probably come.

“The Fifth Day” is one of my favorite songs off of the new album. The song features one of my favorite Airborne Toxic Event elements. The music is almost subtle. While you can drown in the elaborate instrumentals and production, the music progressively rises and falls like waves before ultimately crescendoing. In this case, the music perfectly matches the melancholic lyric.

Check out more about the Airborne Toxic Event and don’t forget to keep track of the diverse Summerstage schedule!

The Top 3 Concerts at Summerstage 2013

22 Apr


While the cold air continues to linger over New York, one of the first signs of summer presented itself in the form of an e-mail this afternoon. The 2013 Summerstage calendar has been released. Summerstage, a product of the NYC City Parks Foundation, is a uniquely New York. From June 4 – August 29, Summerstage provides over 100 free music, dance, film, comedy, family and theater programs in 17 parks across all five boroughs of NYC. It is an ubiquitous city-wide arts fest and all are invited. The schedule, like in year’s past, is packed with several savory events, including a few premier cost events – like the ones I will discuss in today’s post.

While I urge you to check out the Schedule when you have an opportunity, I am going to preview three events I am most excited about, all occurring at the 69th St. & 5th Ave, Central Park location.

3.) Bobby McFerrin – Tuesday, August 20th at 7:00pm EDT

No, this famous song of sincere contentment was not created by Bob Marley. The song was released seven years after Marley’s death, and, last time I checked, Marley is not 2Pac. “Don’t Worry Be Happy” is the wise advice of Bobby McFerrin, and, in some form of twisted irony, this simple ditty of humorous happiness that is clearly his most known work suffers from authorship mistakes and does not do McFerrin justice. McFerrin is a tremendously talented musicians with a perspicacious musicality that shines through everything he creates. Although I am still trying to figure out the “Don’t Worry Be Happy” video that truly marks the song as one of the weirdest pieces to ever hit the top spot on the charts, I’m sure McFerrin will put on a very “happy” show in August.

2.) The Zombies/Django Django/Adam Green and Binki Shapiro/DJ Modest P – Saturday, June 15th at 3:00pm EDT

Wow. This is an eclectic mix of old/new musicians. The Zombies released Odessey and Oracle in 1968, and those who have listened to it can attest to it being one of the better rock albums of the 1960s. The band combined pop/rock with prog/psych to establish an intriguing blend of 60s genres. I saw them at a previous Hippiefest, and they were quite good.

Django Django released their self-titled debut in 2012, and it’s combination of electronic rock and indie influences is upbeat and poppy with Franz Ferdinand influences. Heck, there is even some embedded 60s pop in the music. Take a listen to “Hail Bop” below. Enjoy the odd video.

Of what I know about the other two performers, Adam Green and Binki Shapiro are folk/pop artists with a pull towards the 60s and DJ Modest P is a skilled New York spinner known for his long time Saturday night residency at the legendary East Village club Nublu. I’m interested to hear what kind of show this will be.

1.) Airborne Toxic Event – Tuesday, June 18th at 7:00pm EDT

I have had an itch to see the Airborne Toxic Event for quite a while. The Californian Indie Rock band – with a name alluding to my favorite Don DeLillo novel – saw well-deserved success with the release of their sophomore album, All At Once, and, by the time this concert rolls around, will be supporting their third release, Such Hot Blood, set for release in late April. Quite simply, this will be an awesome show. Perfect band for the Summerstage.

Those are my top three. Feel free to check out the schedule (above), and you can follow Summerstage on Facebook or Twitter


My iPod has Friday on its Mind – Six Degrees

10 Feb

Because this is awesome...

My iPod feels left out. Yes, it is a jealous piece of technology and its temperament is unstable. It needs love on the Music Court or else it may rebel against my craving for music and turn off for good which would be a travesty of massive proportions. So, let’s humor it. It’s six degrees time.

I do Six Degrees of your iPod posts infrequently. I do love doing them, though, because I get to reveal the variety of music I am listening to on my iPod. Sharing music is the whole purpose of this blog and if I can provide some videos of great songs for enjoyment, I am doing my job. This is how I play the game. I take my iPod, put it on random, and skip through the first six songs I find. I post them below. For songs one and six I write a little synopsis and then try to find a connection between the two. In some cases it is easy, but in most cases it is not too obvious. As I type this, though, I have absolutely no clue if my job is going to be easy or difficult today. How about we find out?

1.) “Welcome to Your Wedding Day” by Airborne Toxic Event

This track is off of the band’s most recent album, All At Once, released in April of 2011. The band, a five-piece indie/alt rock act, features creative rock/orchestral arrangements and this song is no different – perhaps leaning a little more towards the theatrical hard rock movement that bands like System of a Down and Coheed and Cambria mastered. It’s a concise, upbeat song from a talented band.

2.) “Friday on My Mind” by The Easybeats

A very apt song with a GREAT video.

3.) “Helicopters” by Barenaked Ladies

4.) “Best Imitation of Myself” by Ben Folds

5.) “High” by Lighthouse Family

6.) “The Twist” by Chubby Checker

Chubby Checker introduced the Twist when he was 19 years old and he has lived off the song since, creating follow-ups like “Slow Twistin” and “Let’s Twist Again” (which I actually think is a better song) and even a rap version of the Twist. He is the only recording artist to place five albums in the Top 12 all at once. The twist was HUGE!


This is impossible! Seriously, without doing research I can damn well give up now and save myself the time. How can there be a connection between a 60s novelty song/dance craze and a modern-day indie act. But don’t worry, I’m not giving up. I have a connection! It is not really a connection at all but it will do.

“The Twist” was featured in an episode of Quantum Leap. Chubby Checker himself had a cameo in the episode as a young Chubby Checker hoping to get his record, “The Twist” played on the air. Scott Bakula’s character Dr. Sam Beckett convinces the station owner to play the record. This connection is going to go through Mr. Bakula and soundtracks. Bakula starred in the modern show Men of a Certain Age which featured a Bob Dylan song on its soundtrack. The Airborne Toxic Event was featured on a soundtrack of the show NCIS where a Dylan song was also featured. It is a mindless, discursive, stupid, haphazard “connection,” but, hey, it’s the best I can do. Can you find another one? Try your luck! Happy Weekend!

New Stuff – Peter Bradley Adams Free Download – Airborne Toxic Event New Album

5 May

Peter Bradley Adams Fighting the Good Music Fight

Peter Bradley Adams first caught my ears a few years ago, and he has graced them with his folky croon ever since. I am a sucker for talented singer-songwriters and PBA is a perfect example of that title. On June 14, he will release his new studio album Between Us and I strongly suggest that you check it out. I have a small treat from the new album to share with you, compliments of the man himself.

Free Download of “Full Moon Song”: http://www.peterbradleyadams.com/freedownload/

“Full Moon Song” is a great representation of Peter Bradley Adams’ music. His voice meshes perfectly with a lightly plucked acoustic guitar. He establishes kind harmonies that lead into haunting strings and keyboard that paint the background. These intricacies represent a growing maturity.

Here is one of my favorite PBA songs, “Los Angeles,” from his 2008 album Leavetaking:


Airborne Toxic Event Keep Pushing The Right Buttons

Let me premise this post by saying that recent Alternative Rock is very hit or miss with me. While I’m a big fan of the work of The Killers and Radiohead, I have trouble listening to Alt/Rock bands that have sunk into the trap of post-punk (and no the Killers are not post-punk). Airborne Toxic Event, however, is doing everything right. They maintain their label as Alt/Rock, but also delve into some creative Indie creations, and this is well represented in their second studio album All At Once, which was released on April 26.

The Airborne Toxic Event first tickled my fancy with their DeLillo-inspired “White Noise” name. I am a huge DeLillo fan and “The Airborne Toxic Event” section of “White Noise” is wonderfully symbolic and well-written. I’m an English major. This stuff excites me.

Sometime Around Midnight” first drew me into the band. The song, which appears on the band’s first studio album, is excellently done. It, itself, is a rising crescendo and the alluring opening is excellent. You can actually hear this opening in the third track of the band’s new album. What?

Yeah, the song “Changing” features the first few notes of the song (in the video it is on the radio and turned off by band members) and this creative beginning is awesome. I love band’s that allude to past work in their newer songs (see the Beatles). “Changing,” therefore, is an apt name.

The song is carried by two guitars, rhythm and lead, that layer a fun, catch riff, until the verse begins. The verse is introduced by drums, but then travels to short chords after this neat breakdown with “I am a gentlemen.” Not convinced. At 2:37 the song features a step breakdown. Come on. That is so awesome and creative. That is some real “Changing.”

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