I love The Airborne Toxic Event. No-one else even seems to have heard of them, even among my music friends, so I rarely get the chance to celebrate this. Luckily, they tour fairly often and Glasgow is always on their schedule. Thanks guys!
It was at the Garage again. Last time, I got there lateish and wasn’t familiar with the venue so ended up perched on the only raised section I could find, which turned out to be the steps to the male toilets. Oh my actual god, the stench was atrocious. But I suffered it to get a view of the band. But to say it spoiled the occasion would be putting it mildly.
So this time I arrived in plenty time, handily the gig fell on Record Store Day so I was in town already. (See previous post). By the time I got in, deposited my bag in the cloakroom an went to the loo, there were a few people on the barrier. I went up, but found all of them were saving spaces for friends. So poor all alone me had to hang back and hope I could squeeze in somewhere. As it later turned out, the lady I was stood behind had a photo pass, which she apparently hadn’t known about, so she scooted off, leaving me in prime position. Yay!
The support band came on pretty quickly, they were Dead Man Fall, a local band. At first they sounded like a bog standard rock band, competent but kinda predictable. Then they brought on a brass section. I didn’t predict that. They veered into tropical rhythms, the singer wielding maracas (one of which flew out of his hand in his enthusiasm and whacked a fellow barrier-stander in the face – he survived and the singer apologised profusely) So that was more interesting. I liked them.
A fairly quick turnaround and we were welcoming TATE to the stage. I was extremely glad of my barrier spot – the Garage is a smaller venue than the Arches, where I was also on the barrier, so here I got a much closer experience.
Without any introduction they bashed on with the tunes. In fact there was very little interruption to the wall-to-wall tunes for about an hour. I didn’t want it to end, but I was exhausted after the hour. They played a few songs from the newer albums at the beginning, but later in the set they reverted to their first 2 albums.
I was interested to hear how the latest album would play out live – it has more electronic influences in it, and I feared a laptop, pre-programmed, soulless element, but it turned out to be largely Anna playing those elements on the keyboard, and the rest of the guitar-based sound still remained.
At first Mikel seemed annoyed at some sound engineering problem, but it either got fixed or he let it go and relaxed into playing. He also seemed to be playing and singing more aggressively than I remember from before. If I was new to the band this would definitely have put me off. Not sure if he was pissed of or just getting into the mood of the songs. Steven Chen is the coolest – most of the time he stands stock still when he’s playing, looking down, concentrating on his guitar, looking all tense as if he’s terrified of making a mistake, then he bursts into full-on rock guitarist, jumping off the monitors, posing like he is in an extreme air guitar contest.
I can’t figure out TATE’s audience. I was about the youngest person I saw, which NEVER happens at gigs now. There were particularly a lot of “older” women, which also never happens. People who don’t look like they normally go to gigs. For me, TATE sit comfortably in my field of indie-rock bands that I like and go and see. I get used to the kind of crowd at these gigs, but TATE gigs look completely different. I don’t know who a TATE fan is. I don’t know where we cross over, who else they like or go and see. It’s good, and a refreshing change, don’t get me wrong. It’s a relief not to be amongs kids discussing their exams. Or be more akin to their mums who are chaperoning them. And it was a more diverse audience. I met people from Spain, Italy and some Chinese (maybe, sorry if wrong) Canadians. People had travelled from far and wide to see the band, taking in several UK/European shows.
The crowd obviously gave the biggest reception to the 2 older albums, but I felt really uncomfortable when Sometime Around Midnight started and got a massive cheer. That song (watch video here) should be met with revered silence, not a raucous rabble “yeah, I know all the words to this one!”, then appropriate appreciation at the end, once we are all reduced to tears and shaken to our cores as we share in this man’s intense grief and pain. But it wasn’t to be. I’m just glad I wasn’t at the back where undoubtedly people would have been STILL TALKING throughout. I would not have been responsible for my actions.
I almost lost it when a phone was rammed in the back of my head for the hundredth time as people held them up behind me constantly trying to get a good shot/video. I took a few, but as I was right at the front I could keep my phone quite low and not disturb anyone. A few shots and it was away in my pocket again. I looked behind me and saw not faces, but a wall of phones. I’d be happy if they were banned.
On the first song of the encore (I’m sorry, I have completely forgotten what it was. It was a bouncy one.) Mikel jumped off the stage, on to the barrier. He was over to the left of me, then suddenly he was right in front of me. I mean RIGHT in front of me. I got a face full of sweaty t-shirt. I got shoved from behind and had to (yes, I HAD TO!) put a hand up to hold on to him to stop myself suffocating. Although that wouldn’t have been a bad way to go. He was encouraging us all to jump, so I was pogoing along as it would have been rude not to. Also I was clinging to him for dear life. I was mildly sweaty beforehand and extremely sweaty afterwards. He leapt back on to the stage and I could breathe again.
A few songs more and it was all over. It had been intense. Back-to-back songs, lots of jumping, singing along, shouting out the expected chants, “Gasoline!” and apparently we even got a world exclusive of “Poor Isaac” from their recently released Acoustic album “Songs of God and Whiskey”.
Mikel threw all his picks into the crowd and personally handed his setlist to the Canadian guy 2 along from me. I was just turning to go when drummer Daren came forward and started handing/throwing drumsticks. Setlist guy grabbed one, but I protested at his double haul (in fact he had gathered some picks too) so I got the stick. Woo! On closer inspection they have been properly used, and signed by the man himself. Double woo!
Due to the early start, it was all over by about 10pm, so I headed round the back to see if I could catch any of the band. After a short wait with some of the people I had met last time I was stalking them, I met Steven (again – he’s so cool) and Daren. I thanked him for the stick and told him I was a drummer, he was pleased and I told him I’d definitely try to use it. Canadian guy was there and was bummed that I had it, but relieved I wasn’t going to sell it on eBay. Daren was really nice and chatty too.
I met new bass-player guy Adrian Rodriguez too, but I look hideous in the photo, so that’s not going up anywhere. They all signed my ticket. Daren told us it was unlikely that Mikel or Anna would be coming out, so we headed off.
A great night, after a great music-filled day.