And it starts… sometime around 8:30 pm.

Playing to a sold out El Rey Theatre, Los Angeles’ own The Airborne Toxic Event seemed eager to be back on stage for the first of four shows this week. They played a nearly two hour show (with no opener) that deserves just as much praise for the reaction to classic hits as it does for the receptiveness to newer music. Prior, the band played a similar series of shows in Chicago at Lincoln Hall and another batch at The Bowery Ballroom in New York. There were a few one off dates before that, as well as some festivals, but whether these shows are the final stage of warm-up ahead of a national tour or just a way to show a hometown crowd a good time like the olden days, it was clear that plenty of Angelenos were happy to have a favorite band of theirs back on stage again.

With doors at 7:30 and a line down the block far before then, El Rey was filled to the brim by the time the Mikel Jollett, Steven Chen, Daren Taylor, Adrian Rodriguez and new touring member Miriam “Mimi” Peschet took the stage. Perhaps best known for their 2008 single “Sometime Around Midnight,” The Airborne Toxic Event have a devoted following that also helped frontman Jollett become a New York Times bestselling author with Hollywood Park in 2020, among other accomplishments. From 2008 to 2011, between debut album The Airborne Toxic Event and follow-up All at Once, it was hard to go a day without hearing the band on alternative radio.

The Airborne Toxic Event never truly disbanded or stopped touring, but between Jollett’s book, the birth of his daughter, and the departure of Anna Bulbrook from the band in 2019, certain aspects of them as a group changed and priorities may have shifted. Their most recent release is 2020’s “Hollywood Park,” but there was also mention of a new album coming soon entitled “Glory.” The title track from that upcoming album was one of the new songs the band played, along with the emotional “Wasteland” and 2022’s “Faithless.”

The setlist was paced well. Fan favorites like “Wishing Well” and “Changing” and high energy rock songs like “Frank Pigg” balanced out some of the more poetic, deeper moments. I couldn’t help but notice a few alterations were made from the printed version that sat next to Jollett’s feet — moving things around, feeling out the crowd, getting back in the rhythm. And hey, Wednesday night sounded pretty good, but it’s almost guaranteed the remaining shows will sound even better.

For tickets and more information, visit

Hollywood Park
All at Once
Own Thunder Road
The Girls in Their Summer Dresses
Wishing Well
Frank Pigg
Welcome to Your Wedding Day
The Common Touch
Come On Out
Sometime Around Midnight

The Graveyard Near the House
Does This Mean You’re Moving On?
Happiness is Overrated
All I Ever Wanted


Brian Benton

Brian Benton is a writer and photographer based in Los Angeles.