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Unpacking the message of the Airborne Toxic Event's new video for 'Changing' [Updated]

March 10, 2011 |  1:06 pm

To unpack the many, many curious details in the Airborne Toxic Event’s new video for “Changing,” let’s start small. First off, why is drummer Daren Taylor wearing his own band’s T-shirt? What happens to violinst/keyboardist Anna Bulbrook around the 3-minute mark, where she seemingly leaves the band to join the audience in revelry? Why did they need two motorcycles to travel to this bar, when there was clearly room for the remaining members in the backseat of their muscle car from earlier?

Of course, these are small intrigues compared with the glaring, central point of strangeness in this video. That is: What is up with the racial semiotics here?

We ask this earnestly, as these pages have long championed the work of the L.A. band. They’re about to come out with their much, much anticipated second album, “All At Once,” and “Changing” is the first single, so this is an important moment in the band's career.

So is the video trying to imply that Airborne is so overpoweringly cool that even nimble-dancing, bespoke-dressed African Americans can get behind them? Are they envisioning a kind of post-racial indie rock utopia? Is the unlikely audience a reference to the “changing” in the title? So many questions to address from a video clip, yes, but others are asking, as well.

Even their first and proudest champion, Buzz Bands blogger Kevin Bronson, said the video should "relinquish any indie cred the band has left." Airborne's singer and songwriter, Mikel Jollett, is known for chiming in on conversations about his work, so we hearby invite him (or, for that matter, anyone with an opinion) to unpack this. Seriously, what’s the intended message here?

-- August Brown

[Update: This post has been updated with a different edit of the “Changing” video. The previously posted version, taken from director John Danovic’s public Vimeo page, was not supposed to have been made public, according to the band’s representative].

Video: The Airborne Toxic Event, "Changing." Credit: From Jon Danovic on Vimeo

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