The Ataris at Martini Ranch, 8/12/11

The Ataris (Kris Roe) Martini Ranch Friday, August 12

Although he has been the driving force behind one of the more successful pop punk bands of the last 15 years, The Ataris' Kris Roe seemed just like any other struggling musician last night at the Martini Ranch.

But don't take that the wrong way. He was just more humble and down to earth than many other musicians of his ilk.

He was self-deprecating, joking about his Arizona curse. Hell, Roe even sold a few B-side CDs out of a plastic bag to help pay for repairs to the band's van.

While his voice seems a bit throatier than I remember and you can tell that the wear and tear of the past 15 decade have gotten to him a bit, Roe still swayed and moved on stage with genuine enjoyment as he played songs new and old, and a few covers too.

The night opened up with a sparse crowd watching Out of Reverie front man Dain Griffin sing a few of his band's newer tracks and a few solo folk punk pieces of his own. While I am obviously partial to the band's tunes (as I made clear during my time on tour with them earlier in the month), Griffin's solo act brings an entirely new sound to the table.

Unlike the guitar driven sing-a-longs Out of Reverie fans are used to, the solo stuff is quick and energetic, with Griffin's growly vocals offset by the softness of the acoustic guitar.

As more people began to file in, local country rockers The Regulars took the stage and crooned a few banjo-backed ballads to the crowd. While their originals were fun, the crowd most reacted to the band's original-sounding covers, like the banjo-backed version of the Misfits' "Where Eagles Dare."

Phoenix diehard Jason Urias and his band The Majestics played next and received great feedback from the growing crowd. Bongo drums and thumping bass accented the band's western pop-rock sound.

It was nice to see a band make an effort to include the drummer in an acoustic set. The bongo did not seem forced and fit in well with the sounds. It is always sad to see those guys sit on the sidelines while the guitarists and singer have all the fun--good for him.

Roe took the stage after a short set up time and immediately thanked the crowd for coming out. For a guy who draws most of his crowd based on prior success, The Ataris' front man made a ballsy move and opened with a new track off of the band's forthcoming studio album.

The crowd seemed to enjoy the song, but no one seemed to get really into the set until Roe began strumming the first notes to "My Hotel Year" a few songs later.

The old favorite managed to loosen up the crowd and the diehards began pumping their fists and singing along.

The next song, "In This Diary," built on this momentum and really harkened back to The Ataris' glory days singing about being a kid and enjoying moments of freedom.

"How many of you are going back to school," Roe asked the crowd before the song. "I missed college, well, I don't know what I missed. From the look of Jersey Shore, I didn't miss anything."

Even though it has to be one of the most played songs in the catalog, Roe did not seem to be tired of the hit, giving it the same attention and emotion as the rest of the set.

Roe continued to intermix up-tempo new material with somber old classics, like the true-to-life "The Saddest Song," which chronicles the singer's struggles with fathering a child as a teenager.

He also got creative with the covers, playing an acoustic rendition of the Misfits' "Skulls." He even got a little cheeky with the crowd, which--being in Scottsdale--had its fair share of yuppies.

At one point in the chorus, Roe sang "I want your skulls /I need your expensive fucking skulls/I want your skulls/I need your Dior-plated skulls."

After a few more staples, Roe closed out the night off of his set list and assuaged a fan near the front who had been begging for "How I Spent My Summer Vacation."

"This is kind of a weird song to close with, but I am going to do it for this guy," he said.

And he gave it the same gusto he gave every other song. Jumping back to play guitar riffs. Smiling at the crowd. Screaming into the mic.

And then, of course, apologizing to the sound guy for being too loud.

Despite the success, Kris Roe still seems happy to be in a band playing music in front of a few appreciative fans.

Reporter's Notebook

Last Night: Ataris at Martini Ranch

Personal Bias: Although I was a total pop punk kid, I was never in to the Ataris as much as I was in to some other bands like A New Found Glory, but I still owned a few Kung-Fu Records samplers.

The crowd: Mostly 20-30-year-old pop punk fans with a smattering of old yuppies and young blonds.

Overheard in the crowd: A gaggle of Scottsdale girls who knew every word to every song Kris Roe

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Wayne Schutsky