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

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

Comments () | Archives (10)

Whats with suppose "Journalist" today? How could you write something so ignorant with doing little to no research on? Ill try and help along the way. First off, that T-shirt isnt even the band's t-shirt, just because it says airborne doesnt mean it theirs. Try the band's online store or googling "Airborne T-shirts" you might be surprised. Second, have you ever been to an Airborne Toxic Event Concert? Anna has always jumped into the crowd at some point during the concert, to give fans a lasting memory of what excitement it may bring. Third was it a Racial thing, when they Mexican Folk Dancers or a group of Hispanic little girls be a part of their concert at Walt Disney Concert Hall? But now, they are suppose Racist when they have a group of Black performers in their music video. Its a music video, next time try to come up with your own ideas and stop linking ignorant articles/blogs from others and actually research what you write.

first of all daren isn't wear a TATE t-shirt...it's obviously a US Army Airborne tee...can't you see the skull you 'tard? second, don't you see the old classic car steven and daren are riding up in, the old time clothes the ppl in the bar are wearing and the arm wrestlers with suspenders?? it's obviously an old speakeasy bar. and have you never even BEEN to a TATE concert?? i have, alot of them, and i've SEEN anna leave the band and revel with the audience. so there...that should answer most of your moronic questions.

oh my god, black people! in an 'indie' rock music video!


Does it really warrant "deeper meaning"? It's a music video. Can't they just be shown having a good time? Not every song/video needs to be "Some Time Around Midnight". They are allowed to have fun. As far as losing Indie cred goes, who cares? They are awesome and that's all that should matter. Those people that get all up in arms when bands "sell out" need to lighten up. The whole world needs to lighten up.

It's so racists people with black skin participated in the video! By your logic, they must be coons.

Is the video corny? Sure!

Is it racists? No.

Wow! What a terrible piece of journalism. To me, it's a bunch of people having a good time.

Indie cred, shmindie cred. Who cares at this point? And, why do you automatically assume there's some kind of racial statement being made just because the dancers are black? Why are you so overly conscious of the color of those dancers' skin?

I completely agree with August here. This video 1) sucks and 2) has a half-baked racial message. He (August) is not saying it's racist at all, by the way (look up the word 'semiotics'), but rather that there are overt indications that the band is trying to make some sort of statement about race, or post-race. The problem is that no one can understand the "statement" because it is undeveloped and poorly executed. This is simply a bad video. Keep up the good work, August.

Music videos dont make themselves.

The director, art director, costume, casting, etc. ......
came up with the look and feel of this doozy.

Very convoluted visual concept.
Definite racial component.

I always thought this song was about a relationship between a man and a woman. This song needs love/hate happy/sad story imagery.


Besides all the nonsense the journalist said, I keep wondering why this song sounds exactly like Modest Mouse? It even starts with "all these buckets of rain" reminiscent of Portland (soytantly not L.A.). Pardon my ignorance, but is this a cover of a Modest Mouse tune?


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