808s and Earthquakes
Song - Artist -
ONE (Party Favor's Festival Trap Mix) - Swedish House Mafia -
March 2, 2007 was a cold, damp, foggy Friday night. Being outdoors was not welcoming at all. However, despite how dreary the weather may be, four excited teenagers girls from Berlin, CT ventured up the Berlin Turnpike into Hartford, smiling from ear to ear the whole way there. Our reason for this journey was one that we had been looking forward to for well over a month: The Ataris were playing at the Webster Theater.
The Ataris were on tour to support their new album Welcome the Night, which is their first release in four years since 2003’s So Long, Astoria. Welcome the Night is a bit of a departure from the band’s typical light and poppy, sing-a-long kind of sound, as they adapt more of an alternative rock feel to their songs, and add a cellist and keyboardist to the band. Despite these changes, Kris Roe’s lyrics are still blatantly his own and filled with emotion, heartbreak, and questioning the meaning of life. Though the band gained more of a mainstream audience after the release of So Long, Astoria, many of these fans have by now moved on, completely forgotten who The Ataris are, and are now swooning over the members of Fall Out Boy. With that said, I really shouldn’t have been surprised that the Webster seemed much more empty than usual when a somewhat popular band rolls through town.
Two of the three opening bands cancelled due to most of their members being really sick, and the only one that did play, The Static Age, didn’t take the stage until nearly two hours after the doors opened. Judging from their name, I was almost hoping for a Misfits cover band. They were emo. I should have known better. Their music was a little on the bland side, but the small and anxious crowd was still happily relieved to hear some live music after such a long wait. However, due to the length of The Static Age’s songs, they only had time to play four of them, and they sounded like any other generic emo band; though the music seemed to be filled with passion and intensity, it was still calm enough to put someone to sleep.
Shortly after The Static Age wrapped up their set, The Ataris took the stage. Since there were not many people at the show, most of the fans were able to stand against the barrier and were really close to the band. Although The Ataris’ lineup for their new album consists of a cellist and keyboardist, they were not present at the concert. The lineup for this show consisted of the other five members of the band: lead guitarist and vocalist Kris Roe, rhythm guitarists John Collura and Paul Carabello, bassist Sean Hansen, and drummer Shane Chickeles.
Generally when a band is headlining a tour, they will have a giant banner hanging on the wall behind them depicting their name and sometimes a logo or picture as well. The Ataris however, had a very unique “banner.” Photographs that Roe had taken and random videos were projected on the back wall from a laptop in the back of the venue. While this was a very different and interesting thing to do, it sometimes took away from the music a bit, because occasionally I paid more attention to the images that were being projected on the wall rather than what the band was playing.
About halfway through The Ataris’ set, the band stopped playing and Roe invited one of his friends who was in the audience to come up on stage. The friend brought his girlfriend with him and proposed, and although she looked extremely embarrassed, she still accepted.
Another memorable aspect of the concert was that rather than playing mostly songs from Welcome the Night, as most bands would do when they are on tour to support a new album, The Ataris played an even mix of songs from all five of their albums. Some of these songs included “Your Boyfriend Sucks,” “1*15*96,” and “San Dimas High School Football Rules,” all from the album Blue Skies, Broken Hearts…Next 12 Exits, “IOU One Galaxy” and “Fast Times at Dropout High” from End is Forever, “Unopened Letter to the World” and “In This Diary” from So Long, Astoria, and “Not Capable of Love” and “The Cheyenne Line” from Welcome the Night; the rest of the songs I either couldn’t remember or didn’t know to begin with.
The end of the show was by far the best part of the night, as Roe jumped off the stage and climbed on top of the barrier so the crowd could sing along with him during “1*15*96,” and after numerous people in the audience shouted, “San Dimas!!!” at the top of their lungs in between each song, the band closed out their set with “San Dimas High School Football Rules,” which virtually everyone in the crowd was singing along to as well.
When “San Dimas” came to a close and the band began to take all their equipment off stage, since they did not appear to have any roadies, Roe informed the audience that he would come back out in a few minutes to hang out with people, and suggested that everyone stick around. My friends and I slowly wandered out to the lobby along with a large portion of the audience where we patiently waited for Mr. Roe to arrive. He was very friendly and talked to a bunch of his fans for a while, and everyone there got his autograph. I walked out of the Webster Theater that night not only extremely satisfied with The Ataris’ performance, but also with a lot more respect for Kris Roe. After all, not every musician is cool enough to spend time after a show making sure that he signs everyone’s ticket and that everyone who wants to strike up a small conversation with him has the chance to do so. It was definitely one of the best concerts I’ve ever been to, and one of the best nights of my life.