December 9, 2016 The Ataris Roll Into Revolution Music Hall Amityville, NY 12-4-16
Skateboards, dogtags, and skin-tight skinny jeans, the early 2000’s feel so far away, right? Not with Pop Punk heroes The Ataris. Fast-paced and harmonically driven, Indiana’s The Ataris have built a unique career for themselves to say the least, breaking out onto the early 2000s Alternative music scene with their fourth studio album, 2003’s So Long, Astoria. Featuring chart-topping singles “In This Diary” and “The Saddest Song,” So Long, Astoria is a staple of any Pop Punk fan’s collection, and deservedly so. With track after track of infectious choruses and lamenting lyrics, The Ataris successfully hit a homerun with its release, selling well over 700,000 copies and attaining Gold status.
However, after a number of personal, financial, and artistic differences, the So Long, Astoria lineup decided to part ways in late 2004. Yet, after many revivals and reunion tours, The Ataris have still kept their legacy alive with band leader Kristopher Roe at the helm. Now a couple of years removed from the So Long, Astoria reunion tour, they are led by Roe along with a lineup of Bassist Bryan Nelson, Lead Guitarist Thomas Holst, and Drummer Nick Turner aiming to make Pop Punk great again on The Ataris 2016 Winter Tour.
Inventively titled, the seasonal tour commenced on December 1st in Scranton, PA, and is set to run through the month until December 23rd, concluding in Lafayette, LA. Just a few days in, on Sunday, December 4th, The Ataris made their way out to Amityville, Long Island to host Revolution Bar and Music Hall, marking their first New York area stop of the Northeast leg.
A well-known and popularly frequented music venue for fans of Alternative and Hard Rock, Revolution Bar and Music Hall radiates the sound of the Long Island scene and beyond. The opaque lighting and the vibrant red glow of the venue are peculiarly comforting, as is the humble floorspace; not overbearingly spacious, but does not pack the crowd like sardines. That said, fans casually lined the bar and seating areas of the venue as the local openers began to take their positions onstage.
First up was the Bellmore, NY Pop Punk outfit All New Episode coming in like a bullet. Commencing with songs from their 2011 debut EP, Huge Mistake!, they married elements of Ska, old-school Punk, and Surf Rock. The female-led foursome evoked their energetic, catchy tunes to set the mood for the anticipated headliners. A sure highlight of their spirited performance was a rendition of Wheatus’ famed “Teenage Dirtbag,” which drove the crowd in a wild nostalgic frenzy of loud, out-of-tune amicable singing. The group brought playful, fun energy to the stage, led by dynamic and vibrant vocalist Noko, who jumped, kneeled, and even kissed crowd members on the cheek in the process.
Following All New Episode’s brief set, locals Me the Enemy hit the stage next. Although they may have lacked the dynamic spark that the previous band held, Me The Enemy drew in quite a crowd with their unique blend of moody Pop Punk reminiscent of Modern Baseball, and engaged in their own witty banter about friday night parties. Despite technical issues, the budding group left the stage with scores cheering for more.
Without any further ado, it was time for the headliners, The Ataris. With their set just moments away, the cheers grew to a roar, enough to shake the venue as the hat-clad Vocalist/Guitarist Roe made his way onstage, along with the other members of The Ataris. High energy ran through the room to the tune of “In This Diary” as the floor became more and more saturated with fans. Roe truly sent the crowd back in time with his low-register, raspy voice and the band’s dimensional guitars as an older crowd sang along to, “Being grown up isn’t half as fun as growing up / These are the best days of our lives.” As the guitar and drums began “Unopened Letter to the World,” Roe began moving and thrashing to the beat with an intense vigor, which the audience only kept up throughout. Turner’s technique shined throughout the entire set, pumping out the exhilarating rhythm the entire night without missing a beat.
Continuing on with “Summer ‘79,” it was an especially emotive piece utilizing acoustic guitar, a rarity for the Skate Punk outfit. Carried by Roe’s low vocal growl, the song continued as audience members sang in a hushed harmonic echo, waving their hands in the air blissfully to the piece. By contrast, the next song shot off like a rocket as the band started palm-muting the first chords of “San Dimas High School Football Rules.” Absolutely no energy was spared as voices screamed over Holst’s chaotic guitar solo. An opaque fog began to fill the room from the fog machine behind the band, dramatizing every theatrical move Roe attempted.
“This song is for anyone who knows what it’s like to lose someone,” Roe prefaced during “The Hero Dies In This One.” With the entire band facing one another, he began belting out lyrics powerfully as the audience shouted energetically back. Throughout, the band brought nothing but boosts of energy that bounced off the walls. Transitioning into the next song, commencing with incoherent guttural screaming, preceded by an overwhelming feedback from the crowd, they hollered back in cathartic unison.
Keeping the night interesting, the mood shifted yet again as the first keys of “The Saddest Song” struck as Roe brought the acoustic back onstage. The delicate balance of mellowed vocals from Roe was certainly the perfect balance to top off the smoother element of the performance. Mid-song, the band stopped as one could practically feel the heartbeat of the venue as the audience sang in haunting silence, “So I pretend, I’m doing all I can / And hope someday you’ll find it in your heart.” As Roe woefully addressed the crowd, stating the following would be their last song, audible groans could be heard from the hyped-up crowd. Yet, nothing could stop the crowd after “So Long, Astoria” — cheers of “one more song, one more song” echoed throughout the hall. From here, Roe and company broke out into their 2001 Billboard-charting cover of Don Henley’s “The Boys of Summer,” a moment that sparked crowd-surfers and dancers galore.
Bidding farewell to the Sunday night crowd, the show proved to be nothing short of animated from all angles. The Ataris truly invoke the best of their era in their live performances: exuberant fun and unapologetic youth. In 2016, they released a six-song EP, entitled October in This Railroad Earth, through their Bandcamp site, while a second EP, as well as a limited vinyl pressing of October in This Railroad Earth, will follow at a later date. Until then, only one thing is certain: The Ataris will continue to bring lively live shows to audiences across the country.Photos by: Aintellin Photography