Remnants of Jawbox maintain a strong live presence in Atlanta...
Poor Burning Airlines. Formed after lead guitarist/singer J.Robbins’ critically lauded post-punk band Jawbox broke up in 1997, his new group’s first hurdle was to contend with listeners getting over they weren’t Jawbox. Now, finally, with a second album, ‘Indentikit’ out, Burning Airlines were getting to that point of acceptance on their own terms when the Sept 11 World Trade Center tragedy took place. Next thing you know, B. Airlines, as they briefly went on marquees, had another hurdle to jump.
But on a mild November night in Atlanta, if all isn’t forgotten, it’s at least no longer a lead topic. Life is back to relatively normal, as hipsters stand, arms folded, while opening acts Schatzi and Moreland Audio take turns onstage. But it’s the main act most jetted to see anyway.
The band emerge to an analog drone, then launch directly in to the title track to ‘Identikit’. Running through tracks like ‘Morricone Dancehall’ and ‘A Song With No Words’ it takes seven songs before Burning Airlines really attack anything, with numbers like ‘Wheaton Calling’, ‘3 Sisters’ and the title track – from their debut, ‘Mission: Control!’. Now bouncing back and forth between albums, Robbins bucks and flails, wringing notes from his guitar’s neck, which strains and squelches. The live reputation Robbins gained while with Jawbox is alive and well with Burning Airlines, as keyboard warbles mix with the assuredly rhythmic but not too rigid drumming. While some people are looking for new meanings everywhere, finding a road-tightened band who navigate the hurdles because they genuinely seem to be emotional about what they do can mean the most.