Friday, February 13, 2009

Airborne Toxic Event and Indie Rock

last night i saw the L.A. band Airborne Toxic Event at the henry fonda/music box here in L.A. (i probably should have posted on this the day >before<, rather then the day after, but i got distracted reminiscing about old girlfriends.) airborne is well known to local indie watchers -- they take their name from a phrase of don delillo's (in "white noise"), the lead singer, who is also a nabokov-loving writer, went through a series of terrible trials, etc.

here is my story on the band from a few months ago.

the show was even better than i'd expected. for a veteran of the '90s indie scene like myself, they come across as a throwback -- they are indie without being smug, ironic or too cool for school. in some ways they remind me more than anything of 80s british bands like new order or echo and the bunnymen who were into drama and big explosions of earnest passion and weren't afraid to dance now and again. (some of their songs, with their mix of noise and tunefulness, recall the pixies, as well, tho they have none of that menace.) steven chen, the band's kickass guitarist, told me he's very interested in E+B guitar player will sergeant.

i think, though, that all too much has been made of how grounded the group is in other, older music. indie rock is a circumscribed language, one that now has 25 or 30 years of roots if you begin in the early "alternative" or post-punk years, and a band dedicated to an indie aesthetic is going to echo other bands. they are not nearly as deritivative, say, as the strokes.

in any case, they are among the smartest, most down to earth musicians i've interviewed and it's nice to see the show as strong as the record. bonus points: they brought out the calder quartet, which has a family relation to airborne. here is my piece on the young chamber group, from several years back. sometimes a classical/rock fusion doesnt work (see: art rock) but this mostly did.

Photo credit: Flickr user 22


Eric Almendral said...

I'm sure some of ATE's media friendliness comes from Mikel's past as a music journalist. A lot of young bands don;t know how to be interviewed; it's as much as skill as interviewing. Mikel was managing editor at Filter. He and I worked together for all of one issue before he left. Still, I always enjoy seeing him—a really warm, smart and fun guy.

Scott Timberg said...

my heart sank when i walked into the cafe in los feliz where we'd set up the interview, and saw all FIVE band members waiting for me... close to impossible to tape an interview with five people and not end up getting details, names wrong on that kind of short, quick-turnaround piece... but it's that rare case where i liked everyone in the band and they each bring something distinctive to the sound...