Airborne Toxic Event | 04.25.13

ate 75The band marched through its set with vigor and intensity, mixing more well-known material with newer songs.


ate 500

with Kodaline
The Pageant, St. Louis

Walking in to the Pageant for a Thursday night show headlined by Airborne Toxic Event, I quickly noticed that, although the opener had not yet taken the stage, the place was already filled with a buzzing, excited crowd. Like many other concert-goers, I’m often guilty of not making it to the venue until at least well into the opener’s set, but on this night, most of the near-capacity crowd was in place before Kodaline played a note. I soon understood why they didn’t want to miss anything.

Kodaline was relatively new to me heading into the show. When I listened to their EP that afternoon, it was lead singer Steve Garrigan’s ability to belt out yearning melodies that stood out. But the full band live crushed all expectations, with a short but tight set full of soaring, anthemic songs capped off by crowd pleaser “All I Want.” The lead single started off simply, with Mark Pendegrast’s keyboard chords joining Garrigan’s acoustic guitar, but as the song rolled along and picked up steam, it was the powerhouse three-part vocal choruses that brought Kodaline’s performance to its dramatic climax. As the band walked off the stage, the audience’s desire for more was palpable. You’d have to think they’ll have the chance to see a full headlining set from Kodaline soon enough.

As the stage was set for headliner Airborne Toxic Event, the audience was greeted by a backdrop depicting a giant bird pierced by an arrow as it flew through the air. However, the intensity of the visual imagery was matched by the energy of front man Mikel Jollett. He expressed genuine excitement about the band’s recent achievements, proudly noting twice that it was their first “headlining” show in St. Louis. And early in the set, he celebrated by plunging into the crowd and screaming “Nobody is watching, St. Louis—you can jump around like a bunch of fucking loonies.” And jump they did for the next 90 minutes.

The band marched through its set with vigor and intensity, mixing more well-known material from their first two releases with a few songs from Such Hot Blood, out April 30. They really caught stride on crowd pleaser “Changing,” with Jollett growling out “All these buckets of rain” as the band jumped to full speed. For me, a highlight was “Safe,” a track off the new record which featured stunning vocal work from Anna Bulbrook in the choruses. Not surprisingly, the moment that saw the most smartphones hoisted in the air was “Somewhere Around Midnight,” and deservedly so, as the band’s biggest hit to date is the perfect vehicle to showcase the grit and passion of Jollett’s vocal abilities.

The evening was brought to an appropriate close with an encore that included a medley of “Ring of Fire,” “An American Girl,” and “Born in the USA.” This is a band that obviously appreciates both their musical roots and their early-career success, and they were not too proud to share those feelings with the rest of us. | Gary Pierson

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