Jollett might be the most charming lead singer ever. What kind of
she-devil would break up with this guy and leave him stumbling through
the streets, drunk and alone? Scratch that. THE AIRBORNE TOXIC EVENT might be the most charming band ever.
At the very least, they're the most charismatic alt band I've seen take
the stage at the HoB in quite a few months. Watch here as Jollett
shadowboxes energetically with bassist Noah Harmon. See there as
violinist/keyboardist Anna Bulbrook bops adorably around the stage,
peering at her dancing bow from beneath a fringe of bangs. Is Jollett
dedicating a crowd-stirring cover of Peter Gabriel's "Book of Love" to
his grandparents? He is. Shit.
Now he's ushering a surprise guest onstage. An Airborne fan is on his
knees proposing to his girlfriend in front of a packed House of Blues
and she's saying "yes." Jollett could not be happier if we were toasting
his own nuptials with our sweating cans of PBR.
this all sounds a bit twee, it wasn't. The crowd, myself included, ate
it all up. This was musical symbiosis at its most elemental. Fans
enjoying a band. A band enjoying their fans. A band enjoying being
a fucking band. It doesn't hurt that the TATE has fine-tuned their live
performances over the years (the first time they were in Boston, Jollett
noted, they played for a room of no more than 40. Well, look at us
now) and that they're just a fine rock band, heart-tearingly emotive
with out crossing into emo, free of artifice and pomp. Billy
Ruane knew it. Airborne dedicated one of the first songs of their third
hour on stage to Ruane. (I don't think I've ever seen a headliner at the HoB
exceed 120 minutes). The never-recorded song was Ruane's personal
favorite, Jollett said, and was his and his alone. "We miss you Billy,"
he said, at its finish, and even those who were hearing Ruane's name for
the first time last night felt something akin to loss.
If all of this grouplove wasn't enough, the band returned for not one but approximately five encores, sampling the Clash, Johnny Cash, and the Boss with aplomb. Not too shabby. Jollett waded through the crowd, serenading swooning girls at random and jumping around like a giddy fan himself.
The Airborne Toxic Event? I think it's catching.