The Airborne Toxic Event – Paradiso – 08.02.2011

This gig was recommended by my American buddy Brad, who runs the Live Music Meetup in Amsterdam. He has admitted to having “concert stalked” this band back in the States and was pretty excited to find out that they’re playing every Monday night in February in the small room at the Paradiso. Interesting tactic. It was full last night, but I wonder whether they can keep that level of interest throughout the month.

Brad promised some good quality indie rock and it’s fair to say that they didn’t disappoint. They reminded me of so many bands. The lead singer has a great voice, often sounding a bit like David Bowie, but the sound of the band lies somewhere between The Smiths, The Killers, The National, The Strokes, The Editors, The Clash, The Hold Steady, The Cribs…actually, pretty much any band with a “The” in its name! (The fact that I couldn’t stop comparing them with other bands might suggest that they don’t really have their own sound…but maybe that’s unfair, as it could also be due to my not being familiar with their music.)

A lot of their songs are very anthemic, but not all of them quite burst to life in a way that would make them really memorable. A few do, and they were the high points. They definitely warmed up as the gig went on. They chose an oddly flat song to finish the main set, with the lead guitarist switching to keyboards and thus robbing them of their normal full sound. The encore really rocked – older more punk-ish stuff that reminded me a bit of The Strokes. One of their final songs turned into an extended jam that covered Springsteen, Cash and the Clash…fun, but a bit pointless.

So, definitely a good gig, but I don’t think I’ll be downloading the album. A good performance, but I’ll have to say the songs just didn’t grab me in general. I’d certainly go to see them live again.