Kris Roe's had a few near-death experiences in Arizona, but he now calls the state home. The rest of the band relocated to Tempe in July and played its first official "local" show last night. Roe has played a couple solo shows here and there, we reviewed the Martini Ranch concert, and I saw the most recent one. The Rhythm Room show was enjoyable, though the crowd was small. The Yucca Tap Room was at capacity last night, full of guys moshing and girls climbing over each other to get on stage.
If it wasn't for the fact that I was at a bar show, last night felt like a time warp back to 2003. The Ataris played a set full of old classics dominated by material from So Long Astoria, improved by the fact that "Boys of Summer" was absent. This was easily the wildest Ataris crowd I have ever seen, and bear in mind that The Ataris were one of my favorite bands back in my teen years, so I've seen them quite a bit. Last night's crowd even managed to outdo the packed show at The Cajun House in 2002 or so -- it was shortly before Astoria was released.
I overheard quite a few concerns about what The Ataris would play last night. I had no such concerns since the band played a great set at The Underground a couple years ago. Last night's set did not disappoint . . . okay, it did a little bit thanks to the short set list, yet the band played with the same enthusiasm I saw for the first time nearly 10 years ago.
I guess the best things in life really are for free because the crowd was absolutely ridiculous. I stood by the bass amp, so I couldn't hear Roe's vocals very well, but the crowd more than made up for it by screaming every word to "In This Diary," the opening song. Things really got crazy during "So Long Astoria," when a few guys started crowd surfing and stage diving, prompting a couple girls to sit on stage and push the band's monitors and pedals way out of place. It was a mess, Roe asked everyone to take two steps back and encouraged the girls to get off the stage, which worked for maybe 15 seconds. The chaos returned when the band played "Your Boyfriend Sucks."
Roe introduced "San Dimas High School Rules" as a song the band plays at most shows, but dedicated it to anyone that saw them at Tempe Bowl back in the day. This was supposed to be The Ataris' last song, but the group ended things with a cover of Descendents' "Coolidge," which most of the crowd seemed unfamiliar with. I was happy to see a few guys singing along and pawing at the microphone, but for the most part, the audience just kind of spastically headbanged along. I'm baffled that most Ataris fans aren't familiar with Descendents since they're mentioned in the lyrics of "Song for a Mix Tape."
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Last night's show may have been a hot, loud, sweaty mess, but it was a great reminder of why I love spending Friday nights at intimate venues like Yucca Tap Room.
Setlist: In This Diary Unopened Letter to the World The Hero Dies in This One ?? So Long Astoria 1*15*96 Your Boyfriend Sucks San Dimas High School Football Rules Coolidge (Descendents cover)
Critic's Notebook: Last Night: The Ataris at Yucca Tap Room. Personal Bias: I've had a Blue Skies poster hanging in my bedroom for almost a decade. The Crowd: The same types I've seen over the years...just a little chubbier and balder than before. There were also quite a few Radiohead shirts. Overheard in the Crowd: "We saw the tamest show ever followed by the craziest show," my friend who saw both Radiohead and The Ataris. One More Thing: The Ataris' new album will supposedly be released this summer.