Saturday, September 11, 2010

The Airborne Toxic Event


If you live anywhere they are touring in the next few weeks - and that means NYC, Toronto, Chicago, Seattle, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Edinburgh (Scotland), Manchester or London (England) or Cardiff (Wales), you really ought to do yourselves a ginormous favor and buy tickets if they are still available.

The music was awesome. We saw them as part of their special acoustic tour (all the places above except, apparently, Cardiff have the same format), and they are touring with the Calder Quartet (a fabulous string quartet that fills out their sound in amazing ways). The show was phenomenal.

I went to the concert with my friend Lisa (a third-grade teacher) and M, and we were in the first row of fixed seats at the Keswick Theater in Glenside, PA. (There were two rows of portable chairs a little further up between us and the stage, but we had a good three feet in front of us before those chairs started. They played two sets with a 15-minute intermission (which is pretty much a standard sort of format for Keswick shows, really), and the first half was kind of chill. They opened with "Wishing Well", with the string quartet starting an introduction prior to the band joining them on stage. Then they did a cover of "The Book of Love" by the Magnetic Fields, a song that I happen to adore. The first set was terrific, although the lead singer, Mikel Jollett, commented on how odd it was for them to play to a room full of people in seats.

The energy changed dramatically with the second set, when they opened with "Gasoline", and some folks in the audience started to dance. By the second song, a handful of people ran forward to dance near the stage. They (quite obviously) changed up their set list after that to play "Sometime Around Midnight", after which the stage was somewhat stormed and the entire place was standing from then until the end of the concert. And through the encore.

At the close of the encore, Mikel actually got down into the crowd to shake hands and pose for photos. M managed to make her way over to him to get a photo on her cellphone. Technically, she got FOUR photos of him with her cellphone, since the first three were so blurry as to be undecipherable. And when we spied the drummer in the parking lot on our way to the car (we were parked pretty much next to the tour bus), we complimented him on the show and M asked for a photo with him as well. (Which she accidentally erased, but these things happen.)

This acoustic format works super well for them, and the Calder Quartet adds a lot to the songs on which they perform. Based on the tracks we heard tonight, their new album is going to be awesome.

And I am very serious about encouraging you to see them in concert if they're near you. Because sometime soon, they're gonna be huge, and you're never going to see them in these kinds of smaller venues again.

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