The Ataris Rocks Eastwood

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The Ataris Live in Manila Concert Review: The Ataris Rocks Eastwood

In fact, they did, and they did it well.

The Philippines welcomed its 1st foreign punk rock act for the year as The Ataris held the 1st of their 2 shows at Eastwood Central Plaza on the 19th of January.

The punk rock band from Indiana, has been digging deep in the U.S. underground music scene since 1995. From playing in unknown bars to being part of the ever renowned Warped Tour, the band had made some mileage across a selected group of listeners across the world. The Ataris is known for coming up with the best and most memorable pop-punk tracks over the years. The band’s definitive brew is characterized by downright personal lyrics containing stories about coming of age, the little meltdowns of relationships and the elusive search for individuality, mixed with dynamic punk riffs and beats. To top all that, add the edgy vocals of Kristopher Roe, who has been the main driving force of the band ever since its humble beginnings. He composes most (if not all) of the songs, and remains to be the only consistent member of the band. After going through a lot of changes over the years, the current lineup includes Thomas Holst on guitar, Bryan Nelson on bass and Erik Perkins on drums.

As early as 12 noon, the members of the band were doing their soundcheck onstage. With Kristopher Roe taking command of the minor tweaks in the sounds, the band took their time to tune their instruments and even rehearse a bit. They even played “In This Diary” (the whole song) to test the sounds. Listening to that alone, anyone would know that Eastwood Central Plaza was up for one rocking afternoon show.

Certainly, they rocked it. An hour or so before the concert, Eastwood Central Plaza was already packed with people who were eagerly waiting for the band to take the stage. They flocked the surrounding area, from the railings to the porch of the nearby restaurants. Not to disappoint, the gig started well on time. A few minutes after 4pm, The Lowtechs, a local band which was the opening act, began to play.

The Ataris started out strong with their anthemic hit “In This Diary”. With its opening riffs, the crowd immediately came alive, singing and screaming out every word to the song. The one-hour concert was fueled by the crowd’s astounding fervor and energy. The set list, mostly made up of songs from the albums Blue Skies, Broken Hearts…Next 12 Exits (1999) and So Long, Astoria (2003), was well arranged to leave no room for dead air. The band swooped through the band’s extensive tracks – from the classics such as “My Hotel Year” and “1*15*96”, to the cover of The Replacements’ “Can’t Hardly Wait” and Don Henley’s “Boys of Summer”, to the more recent “Unopened Letter to the World” and “The Hero Dies in this One”.

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Each member of the band showed an amazing stage presence. With excellent dynamics, their live performance reinvented their old tracks. The rough recordings from their old albums were made more refined, more in tune. That’s precisely what made it so great to just stand there, bang your head and live the music. The audience, too, was very much alive. Composed of people who are in their early 20’s to early 30’s, they were once those teenage kids who listened and sang along to The Ataris’ songs as if they were the anthems and soundtracks of their lives. All the years did not seem to wear down their memory as they belted out the songs like it was played on the radio every day for the last decade or so.

Toward the end of the concert, Kris separately played “Broken Promise Ring” which was requested by a fan in the crowd. Overwhelmed by the crowd’s fanatical response, he stated that he wished to have stayed longer and hopes to come back very soon. To officially close the gig, the band came back up and played “Your Boyfriend Sucks” and “San Dimas High School Football Rules”.

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It is very rare that you get so much for your money’s worth. For a relatively small amount, you get a shirt as a souvenir and the priceless experience of rocking out to a band you grew up listening to. The venue was perfect for the concert because it amplified the spirit of the band’s music. Punk rock (or rock music, in general) is meant to be played openly with a wide venue and an even wider array of audience. As a huge fan of The Ataris, I only wished they played more songs, but the one-hour concert was beyond anything I dreamed of as I overplayed their songs when I was younger. For me and for hundreds of people who were there, just hearing those songs live is in itself a memory I will keep for life.

Special thanks to Ovation Productions for making it possible.

Written by Sandra Mae Laureano

The Ataris Concert Setlist
1. In This Diary
2. Unopened Letter to the World
3. The Hero Dies in this One
4. My Hotel Year
5. So Long, Astoria
6. Can’t Hardly Wait
7. 1*15*96
8. Takeoffs and Landings
9. Boys of Summer
10. Broken Promise Ring
11. Your Boyfriend Sucks
12. San Dimas High School Football Rules



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