Things I wrote in my notebook at The Airborne Toxic Event’s House of Blues debut
Mon, Jun 13, 2011 (6:08 p.m.)
• Lead singer Mikel Jollett opens the show by admitting he’s not sure what day it is. The audience knows exactly what day it is (Sunday) and yet has no problem drinking its weight in tall boys.
• Does everyone in this band play the keyboard? Talent hogs.
• Bassist Noah Harmon’s hands are not human. Nothing human is that fast and graceful and unrelenting. And his perfectly executed rock leap from the drum stand onto the stage should be a tutorial on YouTube.
• A lot of indie bands have talented chicks, but I’ve never seen one head bang over a keyboard like Anna Bulbrook while still playing right on the money. On viola, her classical training shines even more in the purity and stretch of the notes. It’s hard to tell over the sound of all the fans singing along to every song, but I think she might be getting more applause than Jollett.
• Scratch that. He just leapt down into the lion pit, and the lions are screaming and groping their approval. Even the gimp from Rammstein keeps a rubber dinghy between himself and the crowd, but the only part of Jollett I can still see is his microphone cord bouncing from the stage down into the swirl of arms and sweaty heads. I get the impression that should he be eaten alive, Daren Taylor would keep the beat going and Steven Chen would play both guitars.
• The upside-down umbrellas above the stage turn angry red for an equally angry rendition of “The Kids are Ready to Die.” Jollett pieced this song together from letters the band got from soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan, and he tells the crowd they took some heat for its alleged “anti-American” tone. “It’s not anti-American to question your leaders,” he says. “That’s the f*cking definition of democracy.”
• The last song in the regular set is “Innocence,” a plaintive, broken glass ballad that proves you don’t always need lyrics to keep an audience enthralled. When he does sing about wanting to disappear, I believe him.