Thursday, August 15, 2013


Lollapalooza marked the beginning of the concert season, with a busy schedule planned for August through October.  Even though a few short days elapsed since my day-long drive back from Chicago, I was up for the Friday night show with The Airborne Toxic Event at the Fox Theater in Boulder, Colorado.  I drove up a little early to hang out in the nearby park to smoke a cigar (I first checked to make sure this was OK because, you know, this is Boulder!) before getting in line at this small venue.  Saints of Valory opened the show (wish I had taped them!) followed by City and Colour.  The place was packed and the crowd was anxiously awaiting the headliners.

Their show at the Ogden in April was described as:

Throughout the past few years it’s been hard to figure out the identity of the Airborne Toxic Event. The band skirts the line between mainstream and indie, between hard rock and alternative, between innovative and generic. While it’s easy to pass the group off as one that lacks personality, what they showed on Tuesday night is that to really understand the band, one must spend a night freaking out with them at the sold out Ogden Theatre.

Throughout the show, lead singer Mikel Jollett bounced around to fast guitar riffs and belted out in his deep, and at some points strained, voice to a cheering audience. Any critique of the band’s sound, which casually drifts into the mediocre, was made up for by a brilliant stage presence. Under a giant, arrow-pierced bird, Jollett never stopped running around. He was all over the stage — helping out on a drum interlude and appearing in the middle of the pit. He even jokingly strummed his guitarist’s guitar in the middle of a solo and started singing while sitting on the drum kit.

All antics aside, the Airborne Toxic Event also has an incredible amount of talent. From the tight guitar playing to mesmerizing violin skills, to the constant genre bending, the band was able to show its range. Most notably, the band showed its dynamics between the dark, feedback-heavy “Numb” and the romantic “Timeless.” They even opened their encore with an acoustic cover of Peter Gabriel’s “Book of Love” to keep the variety.

Some bands are made for radio. Other bands are made for the rock clubs. The Airborne Toxic Event showed Denver last night the right way to balance both. Even though the reverb-filled guitar and borderline monotone vocals can get lost in the mix of top 40 songs, an impressive live act counts for quite a bit.

The show came to an end around midnight, after which I had a slice of pizza at a very busy pizzeria, the only place nearby serving food this late at night.  Walked back to the truck parked on a quiet street, crawled in the back and had a very relaxing sleep.  The following morning found me at Alpine Lumber purchasing material for the new deck I am planning on building, after ripping out the old one.  The summer renovation project gets a late start.

Download the mp3 of the show here:

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