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‘The Airborne Toxic Event’ Kills it at the Trocadero!


My knowledge of Airborne Toxic Event  was limited to their hit single, “Sometime after Midnight” fromThe Airborne Toxic Event return to the Trocadero Monday evening for another performance. Photo: Diane Cooney their self-titled debut album. I loved the little details in the lyrics, and I always find heartbreak songs written from the male point of view fascinating. The strength of that song alone made me want to check out their sold out show Saturday.

LA band Voxhall Broadcast were solid openers – playing a very loud set in which they jumped around a lot.  They had a bit of a generic sound, but they countered that with enthusiasm and gratitude to the Philadelphia audience. From the response of the audience, I think they had fans at the show. The lead singer was sporting a LA skater cut that I keep seeing on band members now.

The Airborne Toxic Event began promptly at 9:25 (I stole a peek at their schedule at the sound board). The band includes: Mikel Jollett  (vocals, guitar and keyboards) Steven Chen (guitar and keyboards), Noah Harmon (electric bass, upright bass, and backing vocals), Daren Taylor (drums) and Anna Bulbrook (viola, keyboards, tambourine, and backing vocals). Jollett is a writer; he worked at Filter and wrote for Men’s Health before evolving into a rock star.

Between their name, which references the novel White Noise by Don DeLillo and the books on their White Noise list on their website, this is clearly a band of smarty-pants. And did I mention the string instruments? The band opened strong and maintained the momentum during the night.

They played a nice mix of new songs, fan favorites, and covers including one of Magnetic Fields. Taylor was tucked behind the rest of the band, with his drum kit was on a riser. The rest of the band would make periodic stops in front of him, before bringing their attention back to the audience. Like Arcade Fire and Ra Ra Riot, they vary the texture of their set with Bulbrook’s viola and Harmon’s upright bass.

Jollett chatted with the audience sharing some insights now that they are seasoned musicians – and he described the downside of singing about an ex girlfriend for two years. When the audience booed her he said something along the lines of, “It was my fault, watch the video.” The band truly seemed to enjoy the boisterous Philadelphia fans who cheered throughout the set.

The band’s set seemed surprisingly short, as they left the stage about an hour after they started. Their encore continued for another forty minutes or so and included Bruce Springsteen’s “I’m on Fire,” getting bonus points for playing a local fave.

The Airborne Toxic Event return to the Trocadero Monday evening for another performance. Buy tickets here.

Contact Diane Cooney at dcooney@philly2philly.com

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