Pop & Hiss

The L.A. Times music blog

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Coachella preview: The Airborne Toxic Event

April 3, 2009 |  9:10 am

Pop & Hiss will be covering the Coachella Music and Arts Festival in Indio from April 17 to 19. There are more than 120 acts on the bill, but in the next couple of weeks, we'll be selecting some of the best bets -- some on the radar, some flying below.

Who: The Airborne Toxic Event

Why it's the only set that comparative literature grad students and your hip little sister can agree upon: How things have changed for this dapper Los Feliz indie rock quintet in the years since a random e-mail from a fellow named Mikel Jollett invited me to catch his band -- named after a Don DeLillo reference -- on an early slot at Spaceland. Airborne was one of last year's big success stories in local rock, moving from the Hipsteristan residency circuit to selling out the Fonda in the course of 2008. It wasn't so surprising -- their self-titled debut was pretty much the textbook in your MFA class on Getting Big in Britain. Their clothes were tight and black, and the songs split the difference between danceable and Morrissey-miserable.

Fortunately, us stateside Yanks proved pretty amenable as well (well, most of us), and now that they've inked a reportedly swank deal with Island/Def Jam, this Coachella set could be the precise moment that we have to stop calling them a local band. But, if one of them starts dating Winona Ryder or the 2009 equivalent, we promise to keep them in line -- Jollett's number is still somewhere in our payroll.

-- August Brown