For the first time, on a chilly monday night, I made a trek from Philadelphia to Washington D.C. for the sole purpose of seeing The Airborne Toxic Event at the 9:30 club. I was not disappointed. The 9:30 club has a bit of a reputation on the eastern seaboard and I wanted to experience this for myself. Philadelphians can think, "The TLA" only bigger, nicer and all ages all the time. I recommend anyone going in to D.C. for a show there to catch the metro at your nearest stop. A day pass weighs in at less than $8 and all trains run fairly late making it a substantially less painful trip for those travelers who are faint at heart with parking.
As for the show, I was left with the distinct impression that the members of Red Cortez, The Henry Clay People and Airborne were conducting seances in between sets, conjuring up the ghosts of rock and roll greats like Buddy Holly, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, Jim Morrison among others. This claim is substantiated in the unreasonably long gaps between acts, but the proof lay in each amazing set which makes the gaps completely acceptable.
Red Cortez reminded me that most brilliant men are also mad men and with that when I woke the morning after the show, I rolled out of my bed and bought their ep immediately. I was not disappointed. I will be back for more and if you have not already, then you should get a first taste.
The Henry Clay People made me feel that I had been transported to a garage - any garage - and they had been transported to 10 or 15 years prior, when they were thirteen. With every over-pronounced lyrical phrase and every exaggerated beat they renewed the truth that is often long forgotten at shows: Music is fun - a truth often abandoned to loftier concepts like, music is edgy or cool or... existential (?). No. When you were rocking out with your friends practicing your head banging, stage diving, catapult off the amp, mid solo jump into a split, music was fun. It's nothing short of amazing that these guys have held onto such innocence.
Airborne puts on a hell of a show. You can't help but truly feel each member is putting his and her heart and soul into each song. They BELIEVE in these songs. They live each song every time they perform them. They're unafraid to revel in the heart of old rock and roll and reach out into the unknown of the future, unconcerned with genre or labels they play what they feel and what they know. The bassist takes a bow across the strings an electric bass in a duo with the violinist. The guitarist and violinist duel with one another. They too summon the spirits of dead rock gods and ones yet to come.
In the acoustic set including their first song they ever wrote and performed, "Wishing Well", listeners could see that the future is here, mingled somewhere in the echos of the past voiced through these new, weary travelers headed toward dark ambiguity of what lies musically ahead. Wherever they end up, one thing is for sure, I will go there with them