Review and photographs by Amaal Yehia
I was lucky enough to see first see the Airborne Toxic Event when they made their Capital Region debut, gracing the stage of Northern Lights back in 2011 and putting on a performance that was truly unforgettable.
Two years later, following the release of their third album, Such Hot Blood, they returned to returned to the Upstate Concert Hall in Clifton Park (Yes, it’s Northern Lights with a new name.)
The concert showcased ATE’s skill in incorporating indie rock with a touch of orchestral arrangements. Although they have a reputation for playing with various symphony orchestras, the solo band was in no way lacking instrument diversity. I have to admit I’m a total sucker for a string section and was beyond thrilled when Noah Harman managed to swap his electric bass for a beautiful dark brown, semi acoustic upright, while Daren Taylor’s drum beats hypnotized our feet with his steady, enticing intros.
Steven Chen rocked the keyboard during, “Bride and Groom,” which lead singer Mikel Jollett declared to be his “favorite Airborne song.” The song truly showcased their harmonizing abilities, as female vocalist and multi-instrumentalist, Anna Bulbrook awed us not only with her voice, but also with her viola solo – not to mention her epic tambourine, twirling dance moves. I can honestly say she seemed to be having just as much fun as her fans.
Their set list for the night incorporated the perfect blend of ATE’s previous hits balanced with a handful of songs from their new album. And they had fans jamming along to every beat. I certainly wasn’t the only person meeting their exercise quota for a month. The band managed to break a sweat as well, Jollett having taken the expression “working the crowd” to the next extreme, as he hopped off stage to join the crowd not once, but twice. He even went as far as balancing on a barrier rail, while clutching the sweaty palm of a fan who looked too thrilled to be terrified of Jollett’s lack of balance as he sang to her, “Does This Mean You’re Moving On?”
However, nothing could top the band having to start, stop and restart “Happiness is Overrated” in order to rectify the crowd’s singing being “so out of tune – but very punk rock,” while the whole room echoed chorus’ lyrics back to the stage.
MUSICAL HIGHLIGHTS: The big dance number “Changing” and the crowd favorite “Happiness is Overrated”
AIRBORNE TOXIC EVENT SET LIST
Does This Mean You’re Moving On?
Happiness is Overrated
Bride and Groom
Sometime Around Midnight
All I Ever Wanted
All at once
Graveyards Next Door