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Earlier | Later

Last Friday morning on my way to work, I heard a band called The Airborne Toxic Event playing live on KEXP. I'd never heard of them before, but they sounded pretty good, and they were pretty entertaining while talking to the DJ. They were playing that night at High Dive with three other bands I didn't know: The Heavy Hearts, PartMan PartHorse, and Nazca Lines. After the Sing-Sing debacle made my prospects for a February show look dim, I had been thinking that I should just pick a show that weekend and take my chances, so I decided to go through with it and attend this one. I ended up quite pleased with my decision.

I arrived partway through the opening set by Nazca Lines. The band consists of five young guys on vocals, two guitars, bass, and drums. Like many of these bands I've seen, Nazca Lines seemed to be about making some noise and raising some hell. The vocals ran the gamut from shouting to screaming, while the music thrashed about without a lot of structure. This is not necessarily a bad thing; there's certainly a place for angry young punk-ish rock, it's just not something that generally appeals to me, and that was the case here. The band didn't sound much different from others of their type that I've heard, and I was thinking that I wouldn't have anything to say about them. But then their vocalist introduced their last song by saying it was based on a book by Gabriel Garcia Márquez, which made me reassess them a bit; clearly there was more going on than I was hearing. However, with the shouty vocals, I just couldn't care to pay attention enough to figure out what the song was about. So, they're not my style, but they may yet develop into something interesting.

The evening started looking up for me with PartMan PartHorse, a quartet including vocals, guitar, bass, and drums, with the vocalist and the bassist each playing keyboard on some songs. The vocals were still more shouted than sung, but the songs were more melodic and structured, easier to bop along to. Much of the lyrics seemed to be about sex and relationships, but at least one song that might've been their theme involved shouted declarations of being an equestrian and a horse. The band also showed an edge of social concern: Camel cigarettes were obviously sponsoring the evening, and had a rep wandering through the crowd; in reaction, the vocalist removed his shirt and wrote "Camel Sucks" across his torso. (Their MySpace page currently features an anti-smoking screed for their bio.) Overall, the band sounded tighter than Nazca Lines and I found them more enjoyable.

The Heavy Hearts are another quartet of two guitars, bass, and drums, with lead vocals from the male guitarist and backing vocals from the female guitarist, who also switched instruments with the bassist for a few songs. The Heavy Hearts continued the two progressing traits of the evening: their vocalist sang more than he shouted, and the songs were more melodic and traditionally structured than the previous two bands. However, they also lived up to the first part of their name, having the heaviest, densest sound of the night. They weren't heavy metal though, just full-tilt full-volume rock, and they sounded great. I'd had a long and somewhat annoying day at work, and this was just the right kind of aggressive rock that I could get into and work out my frustration.

The Airborne Toxic Event are a new quintet, formed by singer/guitarist Mikel Jollett and drummer Daren Taylor, with Noah Harmon on bass, Steven Chen on guitar, and Anna Bulbrook on viola, keyboard and tambourine. The 'Event were unlike the other bands that evening; they looked rather like European hipsters, dressed all in black, but their sound was pure American pop rock. This band had a lead singer, not just a vocalist, and their sound was engaging rather than aggressive. As much as I'd enjoyed the stomping sound of The Heavy Hearts, I found myself truly delighted with the upbeat bop of the 'Event. While the previous band let me turn frustration into fun, this band reminded me to let go and enjoy life. For a band that's only been together a few months at this point, they were very professional and very, well, together. I picked up their three-song self-titled EP; it's not much to go on, but I'll be looking forward to hearing a lot more from them.


Comments

( 4 have written — Write )
(Anonymous)
Feb. 27th, 2007 09:13 pm (UTC)
hiiiiiiiiiiiiii
hi this is gary from partmanparthorse
i like your review of the evening
bye!
g
philaros
Feb. 28th, 2007 08:55 am (UTC)
Re: hiiiiiiiiiiiiii
Hey Gary, thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment!

In all honesty, not to flatter you, I wish I'd had the time to write up my review on Saturday, because I feel I didn't quite do your band justice and I think I could've done better when the show was more fresh in my mind. Still, I'm glad you enjoyed the review.
(Anonymous)
Mar. 2nd, 2007 12:31 am (UTC)
airborne toxic event
i was at that show too. i thought the heavy hearts stole the show. their sound is SO needed right now in rock. maybe it was just me but i thought airborne was one of those bands that tries WAAYYY too hard. which i thought was odd because the lead singer was bald.
(Anonymous)
Mar. 3rd, 2007 03:55 am (UTC)
Re: airborne toxic event
um . yeah. the singer for airborne is not bald.yeahhhhhh.
gary
( 4 have written — Write )

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