Postmodern outfit The Airborne Toxic Event has seen their share of San Francisco. Though the band calls Los Angeles home now, many a member spent their formative years in the Bay Area. Guitarist Steven Chen, who went to college here, first met frontman Mikel Jollett in the city. The band even opened for bassist Noah Harmon’s cousin’s punk group Everything Must Go at the Fillmore years ago.
“There are certain cities where you have friends and relatives; where everything converges,” Chen tells the Appeal.
“I’ve got good memories there. It’s amazing to be playing in this venue that you know and love and where you’ve seen some of your favorite bands. It really means something.”
In this case, the band will headline the iconic Warfield this Thursday, April 11 before heading to Indio for both weekends of Coachella. Live performances not only function as a means of displaying their latest and greatest Such Hot Blood but act as a direct homage to the live music the band holds so dear.
“We’re huge fans of live music and have seriously just sat around watching performances by the Clash on Youtube. We’re just bowled over by their sheer energy,” Chen says.
“They’re these insane, masterful performances. I feel like we’re somewhere in between.”
Much has been added to make way for an ever-changing sound. Airborne Toxic Event worked closely with iconic producer Jacquire King as they crafted and recorded their forthcoming LP. Layers of lush violin further the rich tones of violinist Anna Bulbrook and, for the first time ever, a mandolin has been added to the mix on the gospel-fueled “True Love”.
A particular highlight of Such Hot Blood, “True Love” is a proclamation of affinity blasted straight to the heavens. Its sheer optimistic energy is infectious and endearing, mixing Noah and the Whale earnestness with spunky punk fervor.
“We’ve been playing it live and seeing people get into it. They go from just standing there to singing in the middle of the song and belting it out with us,” Chen says.
Given their moniker’s literary roots, it’s only fitting that The Airborne Toxic Event stay steeped in the rich tradition of songwriting. Thursday’s show at the Warfield promises to expand upon those elements.
“There’s a universality that I love and celebrate. Music is so much more cryptic and open-ended now,” Chen explains. “I like it when people are telling you a story and are not afraid to be specific. It means something that will never go away.”