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Archive for the ‘The Airborne Toxic Event’ Category

A few years ago I was fortunate to meet the ultimate Airborne Toxic Event fan, Glen Hoos.  He reached out and introduced me to the TATE fan community I’ve grown to adore.  I assumed this was due to my hilarious blog dedicated to documenting my experiences with the band and their concerts.  In actuality, he saw a single tweet where I chomped away on Mikel cookies.  Since then, we’ve met at shows in Seattle and San Francisco, he puts up with all my shenanigans where I embarrass him by telling everyone how famous he is, and fortunately we’ve been long distance friends ever since.

There aren’t many fans who actually “do” anything with their band love.  They may rock out to the song or tell a couple friends, but that’s where their initiative stops.  It certainly doesn’t manifest in starting up a successful blog with a regular posting schedule. <Cough, cough, it’s really tough to punch these out on a regular basis.> And most definitely it doesn’t end up writing a book about your favorite band’s history.

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Here we’ll take a look of the crazy fan who wrote a book about The Airborne Toxic Event.

Breaking Books:  Who is Glen…the man…the myth…the legend? Ha!

Glen Hoos:  Just a guy who’s in way over his head. Husband of one, father of fourteen. Oops, I mean, four. It just feels like fourteen sometimes. I’ve got two teenage daughters, a 12-year-old girl and a six-year-old whirling dervish of a son.

My wife and I engage in what we like to call “extreme parenting.” Our 12-year-old has Down syndrome, and has spent the past two years battling leukaemia. Our son, who we adopted four years ago, has a couple of rare genetic syndromes with big names, an intellectual disability and extreme hyperactivity. So basically, our family is an Event in and of itself.

My work life is spent raising money for the Down Syndrome Research Foundation. And on the side, I kind of like a band.

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BB: How long have you been an Airborne fan and what sparked your passion for them?

GH: I discovered The Airborne Toxic Event in the summer of 2008. A friend introduced me to “Sometime Around Midnight” after we arrived too late to catch their set at Pemberton Music Festival. I was instantly hooked and bought their first album. My appreciation for them steadily grew through the releases of All I Ever Wanted and All At Once.

But the night that changed everything was June 7, 2011. That was the eve of my first Airborne concert, viewed from the front row beneath Anna’s keyboard.

It was a revelation. Four nights earlier, I had seen U2, who had been my musical obsession for 20 years. In my list of top bands, there was U2, and then everybody else was fighting for second. I thought it would always be so. But as the final notes of TATE’s set faded away, I realized that for the first time since I was 15, I had a new favorite band.

BB:  How many concerts have you attended and how many miles have you traveled? What’s the farthest you’ve gone to see them?

GH:  18 shows, and around 9,000 miles of travel from my home base near Vancouver, Canada. (Wow, that sounds like a lot when I put it in writing!) I’ve been to San Francisco twice, Reno, Sacramento, Portland, Seattle and multiple locations here in BC. The furthest I’ve traveled to see them is Red Rocks (Denver), which was a bucket list venue for me.

My furthest show would have been Los Angeles, had life not rudely interrupted. I had tickets to their big homecoming show at the Greek in 2014, but my daughter’s cancer diagnosis hit like a ton of bricks two days before the gig. Needless to say, that put frivolous things like rock shows in their proper perspective really quickly. Still, the fact that I have yet to see them on their home turf is the biggest hole in my TATE fan resume.

BB: Any weird concert traditions you would like to share?

GH:  Don’t think I don’t know why you asked this, Susan!

For the benefit of the reader, my first live Susan experience was at an Airborne show in Seattle in 2013. We already “knew” each other online, and Susan spotted me in a bar, waiting to be let into the venue. She proceeded to offer me every drink on the menu (seriously people, this woman does not take “no thank you” for an answer). I was finally forced to explain to her that I don’t drink any liquids past mid-afternoon on a show day. After spending hours lining up for the perfect spot in the front row, I can’t risk needing a bathroom break once I get in there.

Unfortunately, the older I get, the earlier I have to cut myself off.

There, Susan, now the whole world knows. Are you happy?

BB:  Uh, yeah, seriously I am.  That’s the best story ever.

BB:  When did you start This Is Nowhere and why?

GH:  The short answer is because the band inspires me, and that leads me to try to write it all down.

Beyond that, my other great musical loves, U2 and Springsteen, we’re stoked in large part by the websites atU2.com and backstreets.com, respectively. Both sites are fan-operated, and yet both have an impressive level of professionalism and quality about them I really admired.

As TATE took over first place on my playlist, I would read those sites and think, “Man, if only there was something like this for Airborne.” And then one day it occurred to me: perhaps I could be the one to create it!

Over the subsequent three years, it has grown far beyond what I had envisioned. I just found that I really loved doing it, and I added one piece at a time until it became what it is today.

BB:  Being a fan is one thing, writing a biography is another. What made you want to write a book about them?

GH:  Some times one thing just leads to another…

I recently wrote a whole post on this, so if you want the long version, check that out here. The short version is, I had an idea to write a few articles looking back on key events in the band’s history. Before I started work on any of those, fellow Airborne fan and writer Julie Stoller offered up her treasure trove of TATE articles and interviews that she’d been archiving since the earliest days of their career. Her collection of material was all-encompassing, and it spurred me to sketch out a full history of the band.

It began as a blog series, to be published one chapter at a time, every two weeks for about a year and a half. I kept to that schedule religiously, and partway through I realized that by the end of it, I’d have written a book. So that’s what it became.

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BB:  What is your best TATE memory?

GH:  Through 18 shows, I’ve been utterly spoiled. There are more than I can name. But one moment will forever stand above them all.

To be very honest, I’m quite an insecure person. My paranoia can get the best of me, and at times, I’ve worried that Mikel and the band might disapprove of what I’m doing – whether it’s for being too intense of a fan, or writing something that doesn’t accurately represent them, or whatever.

Which is why the first night of the 2014 Fillmore residency meant so much to me. That night, they were to play their first record in its entirety… and that meant that, for the first time, I would see “This is Nowhere” performed live.

What went down is a bit of a blur. I remember Mikel walking over to my front row perch between he and Anna just before launching into the song, leaning down and shaking my hand. I remember him screwing up a line, glancing over at me and winking. And I remember him coming back over to shake my hand again at the end of the song, this time depositing a guitar pick in my clenched fist.

I have little recollection of the next song, “Midnight,” so stunned was I from what had just taken place. It felt like affirmation of all the time and effort I had poured into the website. He had noticed, and he appreciated it. Honestly, it meant the world.

I’d be lying if I said I don’t still wonder at times if they think I’m nuts, or worse. Maybe they’re horrified that I wrote a book about them.

But then I remember that moment at the Fillmore…

BB: Which member is dearest to your heart and why? Yes, I’m asking you to pick one.

GH:  Okay – honestly, I hate this question. Yes, because I love them all. They are all wonderful musicians and, more importantly, excellent people. But more because, for me, being a fan is more about appreciating and connecting with their work than hero worship. (And yeah, I know that the story above probably comes off as idolization, but it was really more about me just needing my insecurities settled.)

So, with that disclaimer aside and a gun to my head, I guess I’ll have to go with Mikel. At heart, I’m a lyric guy, and as much as I’m addicted to the music, it’s the words that get me every time. No matter what I’m going through in life – and I’ve had the full range of emotional experiences since getting hooked on Airborne – Mikel has a lyric for every moment. Through my daughter’s cancer ordeal, it’s been “The Thing About Dreams”: “Circumstance changes and life’s always calling your bluff. Enough is Enough.”

Plus, early on in the writing of the history of the band, I realized I was really writing Mikel’s story. Airborne is built on Mikel’s experiences and his desire to connect with people through his sharing of those experiences. Everything else in the band is ultimately in service of that objective. He succeeded in connecting with me, and that’s what it all comes down to.

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BB:  If you could create any fantasy TATE experience what would it be?

GH:  Okay, so, I’m super boring. Some fans may wish to join the band on stage to play or sing or dance; I’m quite happy in front of the stage, thank you very much. Others may dream of hitting the bar with them and partying it up, but that’s not really my scene, and then they’d just find out how lame and awkward I really am (though I suspect Anna already knows).

Truthfully, my dream is pretty close to what they did for some lucky fans last year in Philly – an intimate show for about 80 people, with one fan getting to choose the setlist. The winner generously shared his prize and let other fans help choose the songs. I don’t know if I could be as cool as him. I would kill to choose the setlist.

If you want me to jazz up my fantasy a bit, let’s say the show is at one of their old school venues in LA – perhaps the Satellite, formerly Spaceland, or the Echo, where they played their first show.  And maybe I could hit up El Gran Burrito with them before the gig. I can only embarrass myself so much in the course of a taco.

BB:  What’s been the hardest part being a TATE die hard fan?

GH:  For me the hardest parts relate to running the site and writing the book, rather than just being a fan, per se. Not that I’m more important than any other fan, of course; but I think that in becoming a self-appointed TATE reporter/historian, I’ve put myself in some awkward spots and created pressures for myself that go beyond the typical fan experience.

As a fan, I just really want to be a cheerleader. But in my writing, I try hard not to come off as too much of an overgrown fan boy. Going back to atU2 and Backstreets, that’s what I always admired about them. They are fans, yes, but they also report on things objectively, and ask tough questions, and occasionally take unpopular stances on things.

In the past few years, The Airborne Toxic Event has gone through some controversial stuff. I won’t rehearse it all here (it’s in the book!). Covering those events was really difficult.

As a fan, I had my opinions. As a “reporter,” I wanted to be objective and cover all sides. As someone who wants to do right by the band, I desired to present them in a good light. As a representative of the fans to some extent, I wanted to honor the viewpoints of others, even if I didn’t share them.

It was all terribly complicated and more than a little stressful. But no one put that burden on me; I put it on myself. It’s what I signed up for, even if I didn’t know it at the time.

I eventually realized I can’t please everyone; all I can do is seek out the facts to the best of my ability, and write from the heart.

I will say, the ups and downs of the past three years have made for great story. Every good book needs some conflict!

What has made it all worth it are the relationships I’ve built with my fellow fans, and the encouragement they’ve given me along the way. So many have told me that This Is Nowhere has strengthened their love for the band. I’m genuinely proud of that, and I hope the book will have the same effect on those who read it.

Once again, Glen Hoos amazes.  I am fortunate to know him not only as G-Man Superfan (his nickname on my blog) but also as a friend.  If you would like to get your own copy of Toxic History: The Story of The Airborne Toxic Event, you can purchase the hard copy here or the ebook here.

 

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The Airborne Toxic Event is on tour and I won’t be seeing them this go around.  <Heavy, pathetic, crying on the inside and outside sigh.>  While others enjoy Mikel’s melting smile, Anna’s crowd-surfing, and singing along to all my favorite songs, I will sit at home with my cookie dough.  So why not put it to good use?

TATE cookies aren’t unusual to find on this little ole blog.  I wanted to do something different.  Something we haven’t seen before.  Why not turn cookies into a little game for all you Airborne Toxic Event and cookie lovers?

Below is a picture based on one of my favorite lines in an Airborne Toxic Event song from their fourth album, Dope Machines.  All you have to do to enter is leave the song title in the comment section here or on my bakery’s Facebook page under this post.  (You could even like the page if you choose.)  On Wednesday, October 7th, at 6:00pm I’ll draw a name randomly from all the correct guesses.*  The winner gets this set of cookies and a TATE pic set — 9 cookies total.

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If you need a little more incentive to want to drool over these cookies, check out these yummy treats modeling them.

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Have fun listening to Dope Machines and good luck!

*A couple rules:

  • Prize shipped in the US only.
  • Entries must be /received/time stamped before cut off.
  • One guess per person.

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It’s the year’s end, which means it’s time for me to look back and see if I did everything I set out to do 365 days ago.  Why make you wade through a profound reflection when you’re probably chomping to get to the meat of the matter?  It’s time to dust off the resolution list and see what can be checked off.

1.  Write a great book.

Ugh, let’s start with the proverbial kick in the balls.  It was a rough road for my writing career.  2013 left me a little more mentally hurt than I thought and my imagination took the brunt of it.  I wrote a few words here and there, but I was no where near a book.

2015 looks better for this.  I’ve done some soul cleansing and mind stimulation through meeting people, reading again, and surrounding myself with artists (in concert, of course.)  These things have given me new life in this realm and I’m re-committing in the new year to meet this goal.

2.  Take a picture every day for the year.

Check!  That’s right, I did it.  Some days it was hard to pick the best photo.  Capturing the blue waters in Mexico, the energy surrounding The Airborne Toxic Event, the excitement from meeting Fitz and the Tantrums, the awe in the Chicago skyline, and any other incredible memories I had this year was more difficult than I thought.

Here's a small sample.

Here’s a small sample.

I’m not going to sugarcoat it, there were some days where I was desperate for a photo at eleven o’clock at night.  Usually it involved me waking up one of my kids for a portrait or capturing the first thing to grab my attention in my living room.  I was also challenged in uploading the picture each day.  Some days I took the photo and forgot to post it.  Not to mention my difficulty in keeping on the correct day number count.

I’m pretty darn proud of the fact I stayed with it all year.  Who knew I could have that kind of attention span?  I also have 365 incredible memories documented in pictures on Instagram to show I had a pretty good time.  Feel free to live through my year again.  I know I will.

3.  Break through doubt.

It was an interesting experiment to have a blog post around doubt on the 5th of each month.  I think we all know I struggled meeting my deadline to have it up on the blog by the 5th.  What’s new?  Sometimes inspiration doesn’t come on a timeline.  Looking back, I’m glad I did it.  It made me re-think through some things I took for granted about myself.

It started out with what I thought it would be.  Stories from other people guiding us with ways they overcame their doubts.  In a few months it evolved into something where I looked internally.  I tried new challenges to prove to myself I have to take a step to start a journey.  I faced the harsh reality about still having a broken heart from my personal tragedy and I evaluated the importance of being brave with love, even when it hurts.  The feature became so much more than I thought it would.

I may still have doubts in my writing adventures, but there’s less insecurity about being fearful to try.  Because I came to realize confidence is all a state of mind.  And it’s worth fighting through the fear to get to the place you’ve always wanted to go.

4.  Send a cookie to The Airborne Toxic Event.

Done!  Twice!  Actually there was no need to send. I chose to hand deliver.  I didn’t get the personal request I think I may have been looking for originally.  Although I did get an Instagram shout out from Anna Bulbrook regarding liking the IO the dog cookies.  Oh, what does this happen to be right below?

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This put renewed wind in my sails and I fired up the oven for their Fall tour.  In San Francisco I delivered a package to Ms. Bulbrook’s hotel.  (Don’t be freaked out.  I was staying there too.)  From San Francisco, I focused on making another set for Hoogie from the support crew and those were delivered in Seattle.  Both sets garnered thank yous and checked off this resolution as completed.

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5.  Host a Delish open house.

The lessoned I learned about making a resolution around a business I have with a partner is get the sign off from your partner before you start making resolutions.  Bestie was horrified when she heard my plan last January.  I might have been a little over-excited in my resolution and needed a bit of grounded reality.

However, Delish did have forward progress and we’re happy with the strides we’ve taken.  We hope to have even more success in 2015.  I’ve learned it might be smarter to keep my resolutions to my personal goals versus business ones.

There you have it.  My year completed.  This list doesn’t take into consideration all the additional awesome happenings that didn’t have resolutions around them.  You might get the drift if you check out the Instagram pics for the year.  2014 kicked ass and in 2015 I plan on taking some more names.  Those resolutions are coming up soon…

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There’s something magical about live shows.  The energy sneaks around in a slow crawl until it suffocates your mind from reality.  It pierces every pore and lulls you into an intoxicated trance before you even know it showed up.  The venue, the music, and the fans morph you into something you don’t recognize in the mirror.  I start out a rational, sane-minded, almost forty-year-old professional woman, and in less than two days I’m an insecure, hyper-sensitive, fangirl clawing for attention scraps.

I know this about live shows.  I’ve experienced it before, after returning home and putting the band’s tracks on repeat for weeks.  This accounts for my 50+ Toad the Wet Sprocket plays in 2010.  It’s where I relive the experience.  Remembering the beers we shared after the show.  Letting the memories wash over me in a sentimental breath by comparing each song with its live counterpart.  Basking in my small piece of feeling special in a regular life.

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The Airborne Toxic Event only makes it more difficult to keep from falling into the “being someone” abyss.  Their compelling personalities and easy going nature are the equivalent to friendship crack.  I get a small sample and I crave more instantly.  A wink here, a half smile there and I question every little meaning.  Is this the time we have a real connection?  I rack my mind to say something intelligent, fascinating, or funny to make us best friends forever.  Insecurity starts to whisper I’m not interesting enough to capture their time, beautiful enough to keep attention, or smart enough to engage in meaningful conversation.

This only makes their fumes more toxic.  The poison blinds me to the reality this is their job.  Their income depends on the relationship they forge in seconds.  While I know they’re all nice people and I’m sure genuine in our interaction, if my head were cleared I’d realize it’s impossible for us to be friends in a matter of minutes.  Even when I try to have a normal dialogue with someone from the support crew about his family and cookies, I’m immediately crushed when someone else yells over how “fuckable” he is. Embarrassment stuns me.  Insecurity screams I’m a cliché.  So naive to pretend we could have a regular conversation.  I want to defend I’m not looking for an angle.  It’s a thank you for doing a job.  No different than when I surprised the Sonic worker with a gift card for smiling every day when she fills my Diet Cherry Limeade.  In my normal world I would’ve fired back a “fuck off” without a second hesitation.  My confidence in being the type of person who likes appreciating others would’ve kept me from spiraling into a world of self-doubt and over-explanation.  Drunk on concert fumes, I disappeared into the night without even saying good-bye and robbed myself from the experience I could’ve had.

I can’t see how deep I’m in until the drive home.  They won’t remember my name or even recognize my face once they hit the next town.  No matter how bad I want it to be different. When making the nine hour drive back from Seattle, Mikel did an “Ask Me Anything” session.  I usually read through them and roll my eyes at every “marry me?”  With the toxins still streaming through my bloodstream, I crave a piece.  The questions become a popularity contest.  Who’s name sticks out the most and will garnish a response?  Before I know it I’m typing a three word question.  And regretting it when there’s no response.  I have failed in being someone.  Someone memorable.  The full-blown sickness consumed me because I’ve allowed any of this to matter.

In the same car ride, I reflected on releasing my in-laws ashes the day before and missing them terribly.  I learned a friend lost her job.  I read the announcement another friend’s brother died after a terrible battle with Alzheimer’s at the age of 37.  He leaves four children behind.  One only two years old.

These are the antibiotics I need to get my shit back together.  The cold sledgehammer to clear my head.  I have a pretty great thing going in my world.  Healthy kids, supportive husband, terrific friends.  I’m baking my favorite things, deejaying my own radio show once a week, and writing another novel.  How can I say this isn’t special?  With a clear mind, void of million dollar smiles and lyrical charm, I’m able to see the truth again.  I may not be BFFs with rock stars but I know I am rockin’ this regular life.

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For a couple months I thought Seattle would be the last The Airborne Toxic Event show I attend.  I mentioned it to Bestie in San Francisco that the end was coming after enjoying a memorable three nights.  With number eleven notched in my belt I felt like I’d gotten all the live show experiences TATE could offer.  They’d served me well since 2009 when I first saw them in Seattle at the other Showbox.  I found it only fitting my last show would come full circle to happen in the same city.

The decision had nothing to do with band members changing or their music moving in a more electronic direction.  In fact, I really like the new sound.  My intentions will continue to be a loyal fan, spread the TATE love, and keep an Airborne song in the weekly radio program I do.  I might even resurrect the Dufraine project to entice them to Southern Oregon.  However, I planned to end my multi-state travels to relive TATE love so I could pursue other musical group interests.

The Portland show on October 25th saddened me.  Horrible people mashed against my skin in our small space a couple rows behind the barrier.  One woman, who’s companion admitted he didn’t know what she’d taken, continued to fall into me the entire time.  This was between her constant texting and checking the World Series’ score.  Her friend proceeded to be drenched in gross body fluids which she continued to flick on me the entire show.  I folded my arms across myself to try to keep myself as small as possible.

The band didn’t seem into it either.  Mikel flashed his smiles on the right cues and the others dragged their bodies to the front for solos, but I didn’t feel the love.  It’s the thing I worry about when seeing them multiple times, looking like work versus passion.  So sad going out like this.  After the set ended, I retreated from the front to catch a breath in the back.  The band returned for a shortened encore and disappeared quickly.  I didn’t try to stick around for pictures.  Hubs and I went to a bar and enjoyed Irish coffees.

Seattle arrived and I hoped they would bring more for my farewell.  Of course, they have no idea who I am or my decision.  I only hoped there was something to draw an energetic show.  I delivered my HooKies and mingled with other fans.  The conversations were bittersweet.  TATE fans are a unique breed.  Most have double digits in their concert repertoire and follow the band to the ends of the Earth.  I felt like I just met them and it was already time to say good-bye.

I snagged a barrier spot.  My first time at being a “front.”  I stopped HooGie and we chatted for a few seconds about the cookies.  He thanked me and said he sent a picture to his daughter.  So cute.  I may have offered to send his wife-to-be and daughter cookies for the rest of their lives.  When the band came on you could feel their energy immediately.  I knew it was going to be a good night.  Mikel engaged the audience from the start.  He bantered with Adrian and Steven in choreographed kicks.

I sang every song.  My emotions mixed with enjoying the music and battling sadness in knowing the end was near.  The show concluded and I screamed for the encore.  My last piece of my favorite band.  It started with a silent guitar.  Mikel tried to fix it, but called HooGie out for repairs.  (He totally deserves cookies every day!) The guitar started up and they went into Missy.  The song that got me to buy the album on its first listen five and a half years ago.  I knew what to expect.  Missy would turn into I Fought the Law or another favorite.  I’d seen it many times before.  I hoped it would be Boys Don’t Cry like some had seen at other shows.

Mikel’s guitar screeched again.  He adjusted his foot pedals a couple times before he unwound from the guitar strap.  He looked to the side stage and lifted the guitar over his head.  The matte black instrument raced down against the ground.  I thought it must have been an accident.  Then the second smash and wood splinters sprayed out.  It ignited the crowd into a frenzy, including me.  My heart raced.  Confusion turned into excitement.   I looked over to HooGie who shrugged without a grin or grimace.  All I could do was scream, “Holy fuck” and jump up and down.

After the song and show ended, Mikel continued to piece out his guitar.  He flicked shards into the crowd.  People screamed and reached.  It’s hard not to get caught up in it when you’re surrounded.  My greedy hands stretched over the barrier gate even though I was fortunate to already receive a pick handed over by the bassist, Adrian.  Mikel walked over to my stage side and I waited for someone to snatch the last piece from his hand.  He calmly lowered the piece to where only I could reach it.  He dazzled with a smile and let me take it before he darted back to the stage.

The crowd kept me pinned to the barrier.  The thirteen-year-old girl next to me said how cool it was he gave me the piece.  I couldn’t stop beaming.  Mikel worked his way down the line, signing autographs, taking selfies, and thanking people for coming.  His fan appreciation was the number one reason I became a loyal fan after seeing them in 2009.  When he got to me, I waited for our normal exchange where I thanked him for the great show and he thanked a faceless fan for coming.  Instead, Mikel wrapped a sweat-soaked hug around my shoulders and thanked me for making the cookies for HooGie.  It caught me completely off guard. I think I mumbled something about it being my pleasure; I was happy to do it. He said something nice and moved to the next person waiting their turn.

And this is how The Airborne Toxic Event has me re-evaluating my decision.  The reason why I don’t know if I can make the Seattle show my last.  Even when I thought there were no surprises left, they have a way to make me feel something more.  And it’s not just about the band anymore.  Their fan community is something I never expected.  Each show I meet more people and find out more stories.  About how we all have separate lives we put on hold to converge onto one place and weave a new one together.  It’s something I don’t know if I would be able to get with any other show or with any other band.

I guess this only means this is my final Airborne Toxic Event show for now.  When a new tour comes up, I’ll have to decide if I’m in the place to write a new memory or be satisfied with this last one.  It may be a hard decision.  Because although Seattle was pretty fucking awesome, who’s to say the next won’t be better?

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A few weeks ago I lived a TATE fan’s dream by attending their three night show in San Francisco.  Each night highlighted one album.  Little did I know the three nights would be a progression in growth not only in sound, but in maturity as well.  Maybe I got the idea after reading a terrific article on their third album.  It sang me a little more than literary lyrics.  I walked away with an understanding that turning forty might not be so bad.  (Which is a good thing since I’m only a month away now.)

Bestie and I started the debut night arriving thirty minutes before the show and being sent to the end of the line.  The back isn’t so bad when you know you’re standing in the priority entrance line.  The “Fronts” had already worked out all the entry details about how priority entrance worked.  Bestie and I mingled with other fans, talked about where we’d traveled from, and how many shows we had notched on our belts.  When the doors opened we landed a few rows back from the “Fronts”-lined stage.

20140918_200936Our back-of-line mates were hella sports about playing my immature games.  We touched noses to unsuspecting fans, ordered impulsive and expensive drinks, and kept it rowdy right up until the band walked out on stage.

Then it was rocking out time.  Singing, dancing, and jumping ensued.  We felt invincible until Mikel jumped from the stage.  The crowd surged in every direction. I pushed against anyone to hold my ground and keep from falling down.  I swayed back and forth in great fear of succumbing to the faceless mob and being trampled to death.  Bestie was lost eight rows back.  The crowd seemed so big in that moment.  Faceless people willing to step on your back to get a little more for themselves.  Maybe a little innocence was lost.

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On the second night we chose enjoying a nice dinner together versus standing eight hours in line to be with the Fronts.  We fell back in line with our same friends from the night before.  Each of us wore a little more knowledge and exhaustion about what to expect.  I expanded the mingling circle to capture some of the Fronts we’d met throughout the day.  The doors opened and we grabbed a closer position than the night before.  We focused on building relationships with the fans to make the most of the evening.

When the show was about to start, Bestie and I agreed to hold our ground.  We recruited young girls behind us to keep the area locked down to keep the wild children from our ruining our night.  The band delivered an epic show.  Maybe they’d learned a little something from the first night.  Or maybe I understood to enjoy every minute because the fun wouldn’t last forever.  When Mikel jumped into the crowd he landed in our laps.  The surge pushed from behind and we stood fierce.  We didn’t get split up or scream uncontrollably in his face.  I even showed great restraint and didn’t grab his ass.  We waited for the crazy to pass because we knew it would and enjoyed the experience for what it was.

The music boomed with high energy the whole night.  I stopped caring what I might look like in the end and enjoyed my groove.  I sweated into a disgusting hair mess and wore it like a badge of honor.  The night was for us20140919_215421

The last night was a little melancholy.  The end was near and we could all feel it.  We reminisced about the two previous nights and picked our favorite highlights.  Bestie and I chose not to crush it in the pit.  Instead our plan involved finding seats in the balcony.  Doors opened and we said good-bye to the Fronts.  We went our separate ways and found the best seats in the balcony.  We sipped drinks without any spilled down our backs.  We sat comfortably instead of jockeying for another inch closer to the stage.  We appreciated our Front friends from above and waited for Airborne to take the stage.

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The balcony brought a completely different experience than the two previous nights.  The music wasn’t as loud.  It didn’t pump through our nerves and force a wild dance.  The stage was distant, but  I could see it all.  Instead of having to focus on one or two band members at a time, I could see how they all worked together.  The light bulbs didn’t flicker, but instead streamed to the back wall and danced across the places they landed.  At times I yearned to be back in the pit, covered in sweat, and experiencing the music in a physical way.  Wishing to have done something a little different or maybe even more daring.  This seems to always be the case when a conclusion is around the corner.

The concerts reminded me it’s okay to get older.  Each night and album highlighting the changes from the band’s experiences and travel.  Once naive songs about a boy missing a girl have turned into meaningful prose about mortality.  It doesn’t mean the music is bad.  In fact, some of my favorite songs are from the second album.  They even played a song from their upcoming and I couldn’t be more excited.  Maybe this is the push I needed to remind me turning forty might not be so bad.

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Here’s Anna Bulbrook’s new guitar pick:

Here’s her new cookie:

anna new pick

<Drops microphone>

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