April 14, 2014 The Ataris Close Out Reunion Tour in NYC 3-30-14 with Authority Zero, Drag the River, Gasoline Heart, & Donald Spence
It was a rainy Sunday evening in New York City on March 30th, 2014, but that did not stop punk rock fans from all over the tri-state area to come out and see The Ataris’ So Long, Astoria reunion tour. This exciting retrospective consisted of the band’s classic line-up of Mike Davenport, Chris Knapp and John Collura. The NYC date originally set for the Gramercy Theater was moved to Irving Plaza due to the overflow of ticket sales. Treating the audience to a full bill of bands was guaranteed entertainment with no long wait of silent anticipation for the headliner. This good mix of acts consisted of Donald Spence, Gasoline Heart, Drag the River, and Authority Zero.
First up was Southern Californian Donald Spence who surprised the crowd with an acoustic set. Having founded Versus the World back in 2005 with Ataris bassists Davenport, Spence has toured all over; making a name for himself. After releasing his latest solo album titled The Late Shift, Spence has a fresh batch of songs from the other side of his work with Versus the World. His solo material showcased his insightful gift for songwriting and performing. Remaining calm and comfortable Spence put on a great opening set for this audience.
From Brooklyn, NY, Gasoline Heart walked onto the stage shortly after Spence and welcomed the crowd with great energy. Together now since 2006, Louis DeFabrizio (vocals/guitar), Adam Garbinski (guitar), Dave Petersen (drums), Kirk Henderson (keys/bass), and Casey McBride (bass) mix country with alternative rock; providing for a sound unlike many other bands. Wanting to see the audience, the band requested to have the house lights illuminate the floor to catch reactions to their performance. At one point in the set the band even grabbed a mirror to give the audience a sense of how they felt on stage. Putting on a solid performance, Gasoline Heart looked excited to be concluding their 10 date trek as part of this tour right in front of their hometown crowd.
Mellowing out the mood a bit was Colorado based alt-country act Drag the River. Performing together almost two decades, the band released their new full-length album Drag the River in 2013. Made up of Jon Snodgrass, Chad Price, JJ Nobody and Dave Barker, the band hopped onto this tour early on in Los Angeles back on March 5th and has been winning over new fans one by one. Performing a very relaxed mix of songs, the four-piece band did an excellent job while on stage. Their mix of blues, rock, and country, while not being excessively loud, really set a good laid back atmosphere; giving the audience a change of pace.
After chilling out, it was time to kick things back into high gear with Authority Zero. Starting back in 1994, this band has been plugging away for years now and when their major label debut, A Passage In Time, was released in 2002 it was a hit; producing singles such as “One More Minute” and “Over Seasons”. Since that time, Authority Zero has been going strong with four more studio albums, including their latest The Tipping Point (2013).
Taking the stage with energy, their performance was electric just like punk rock was intended to be. Vocalist Jason DeVore was brilliant with the crowd, and appears to be edgy and fearless in his delivery. As the founding member of the band, DeVore proves he is a great frontman well worth seeing perform. Matching DeVore’s energy, guitarist Brandon Landelius rocked hard while being truly engaged with the crowd and the fans. Performing a generous mix of songs from their newest album as well old favorites made for an amazing set fans truly enjoyed. There interest in their fan’s satisfaction did not end on the stage; Landelius took the time to walk through the crowd after their time, asking people if they enjoyed the show. There is no question Authority Zero is a fan friendly band and enjoys what they do.
After an amazing performance by Authority Zero, the crowd got larger and wilder as they were pumped up to see The Ataris perform So Long Astoria (2003) in its entirety. Taking the stage to a sea of cheers, The Ataris were ready to close out their month long tour at Irving Plaza.
Wired with energy, Knapp and company showed no signs of fatigue and gave it their all on this closing night. Blasting through the set, there was not one dull moment. The fun of the closing night of a tour is anything goes and you can be given a few extra Easter eggs others did not receive along the way. One of those moments was when Drag The River and Gasoline Heart came onto the stage to sing along with The Ataris for their memorable cover of Don Henley’s “The Boys of Summer”. The crowd was completely engaged with the set, getting wild moving about the floor to the tunes they grew up with. Giving fans a few surprises with the whole So Long, Astoria record was classic songs “San Dimas Football High School Rules”, “You’re Boyfriend Sucks” and “I Won’t Spend Another Night Alone”.
This was one hell of a closing night of a tour. Ending around Midnight all in attendance at Irving Plaza stayed to the very end. This was a show for the love of some of the most memorable pop punk rock of the early 2000’s. There were not only fans which grew up with the band present but even small children having a ball with their family. While The So Long, Astoria reunion tour has concluded, the memories will last a lifetime.