170 Russell, Melbourne
June 7th, 2016
Supported by Strickland, Columbus
Nostalgia reigned supreme on a chilly Tuesday night in Melbourne’s 170 Russell as The Ataris headlined a gig backed by local supports who wore their influences on their sleeve.
Local support stalwarts Strickland are a guaranteed crowd lifter for any early 00’s punk/ emo/ screamo band on a revival tour. They are the closest thing Australia has to the kick arse and devastatingly underrated Four Year Strong, and punch out hook-and-breakdown driven musical catharsis that remains unrivaled on Australia’s current scene. Even the fact that new drummer Jai was only playing his second gig and every other member of the band had switched instruments to fill the void left by a missing guitarist didn’t deter the Melbournian easy core outfit from opening the night with a banging set.
Currently getting play on Triple J certainly makes a difference to how many folks shout lyrics at you while you’re playing a gig in this town, as youngsters Columbus visibly realized during their meat-and-potatoes mid-card set following Strickland’s clutch of throttling tunes. They weren’t bad by any measure, but a lack of stage presence and minimal crowd interaction is never agreat way to stay memorable to the uninitiated. Kids up the front who were clearly on the band’s band wagon lifted the set by knowing all the words to the introverted outfit’s swag of post-pop punk songs that recalled Brand New and Blink 182, and of course The Ataris in equal measure. The Brisbane lads were clearly chuffed at the crowd participation, and were far more impassioned and up and about by the end of their slot. All-in-all, it was a decent set from a decent band.
Ataris front man Chris Roe spent a large part of the support bands’ set hanging at the merch stand side of stage, amiably posing for selfies and shilling shirts and records to his now older, but still adoring fan base. It was a very cool thing to behold, and solidified Roe as a top notch front man who earnestly doesn’t mind getting flogged by his fans, because he knows they’re the reason he’s still earning a living playing music. Once he and his band took stage, nothing much changed. Roe remained a relaxed and interactive front man throughout the course of their passionate set, even when a faulty patch cable between a couple of his guitar pedals threatened to derail proceedings from opener ‘In This Diary’.
Once the cable was sorted, and Roe’s guitar ceased dropping out, The Ataris let rip with a surprisingly atmospheric set that, while maintaining their trademark emo rock sound in which punters came to revel, also plunged in to protractions of songs with wall-of-sound crescendos and waling chunks of echo-heavy guitar. It was almost as though the sound created between familiar verses and songs from a generation ago served to further immersion in to the endless summers, first loves, and aimless teen adventures with your closest friends that songs by The Ataris so perfectly encapsulate. It’s short odds this reviewer isn’t the only person who thinks the album So Long, Astoria was literally written about them to an uncanny degree. Highlights from the set include Roe dedicating their Boys Of Summer cover to a bloke up the back in a Brian Adams shirt, and the damn near perfect angst-driven teen love anthem that is Sam Dimas High School Football Rules.
The omission of ‘Teenage Riot’ for unspecified reasons was a bit of a letdown, but it’s no secret heaps of bands grow weary of some of their musical children after so many years or emotional complications stemming from what the song was originally written about. Luckily, some of us would have already seen them perform it on Rove Live about fifteen years ago, and ‘The Hero Dies In This One’, ‘Your Boyfriend Sucks’, and Goonies-based encore finisher ‘So, Long Astoria’ left no one feeling like they’d missed out on anything at all. It was a rollicking set from a band that have penned guaranteed spots in heartsall over the world with their extremely passionate and relatable music. A wonderful thing to behold that clearly made the whole venue feel like they were sixteen again for one glorious hour-and-a-half.
Photos and Review by Todd Gingell
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