Atari Teenage Riot @ Fleece & Firkin, Bristol, 13th May, 2011.
Review by Jo Whitby
Having just read the Louder Than War review of the gig (which is excellent by the way) it prompted me to also go for a personal take on the night which may result in reminiscing in some form or another. I’d have to disagree with Guy Manchester about the hipsters though. Bristol has them and lots of them. You just need to look in the right places and there they are in all their hipster drainpipes and shaggy cardigans that are meant to be retro glory. I think all cities have them in varying degrees. Thankfully they don’t usually end up in the Fleece & Firkin unless it’s hosted by NME and/or involves the cast of Skins.
Literally just over a year ago I was in London watching Atari Teenage Riot for the first time. It was a fantastic show and my first proper experience of a moshpit. Thanks to that experience expectations were running high. The upcoming venue was considerably smaller, it was on home turf and a stage that I’d also performed on many times in various musical escapades. Without sounding like a hyperventilating Westlife fan I was very excited to say the least. I’m not ashamed to admit that I was a late bloomer in my appreciation for the band. When ATR first made an entrance back in 1992 I was the ripe old age of 8 and preferred listening to my Michael Jackson tapes and that Utah Saints track with Kate Bush in it. Cat On The Wall’s Lux informed me during the early years of our friendship that her best friend in Paris was a huge ATR fan and optimistically played me a track. You can see where this is heading right? Confusion, possibly panic finally ending in a bemused yell of “WHY DO THEY SCREAM SO MUCH?”. Let’s just say I wasn’t ready. Moving forward several years and you can catch me jumping around, shouting until my throat hurts and pounding my fist like the rest of them (figuratively speaking of course).
I’ll give you a heads up now. Prior to the gig myself and Lux had the privilege of listening to the band sound check and then we both headed back stage to have a good old natter with Alec Empire (the results of which will be online very soon). I wouldn’t go so far as to say I was euphoric but it certainly coloured the rest of the evening in a good way. Shamefully we missed the first support act FOE due to a dire need to have a coffee somewhere. We’re not usually disrespectful to support bands but in this instance coffee won. Thankfully we did arrive in time for the second act Necro Deathmort, a band whose name throws up visions of evil Harry Potter villains or some kind of behind the counter herbal remedy. The music the duo made was a heavy mixture of doom metal, dub and a splattering of hip-hop which for a Bristol crowd was a pleasurable concoction. Nic Endo successfully managed to leave and enter the venue twice during the set without being spotted (at least inside), myself and Lux agreeing that she really must possess special powers which include invisibility in small crowds and eternal youthfulness. As the last track came to an end most of the audience then migrated either to the bar or outside for a quick breather/smoke, by this point it was already 10:30pm but we didn’t have to wait long…
Atari Teenage Riot doesn’t need to make a grand entrance, it’s the music that provides the initial kick smashing into your skull and pounding at your chest. Empire, Endo and Kidtronik having already toured considerably since the reformation were not fazed by the intimate surroundings and straight away launched an attack on the audience demanding their full attention and taking no prisoners. At first I felt that the audience needed a bit of coaxing as though they were holding back from going too crazy. Whatever it was keeping them down didn’t last long and so began a consistently energetic moshpit with arms, elbows and flailing bodies all fighting for some room at the front (all of it getting a bit much for one gig goer who left the venue after seemingly breaking his ankle). It’s not really the done thing at an ATR gig to stand there with a notepad scribbling down the set list so apologies for a rather blurry recollection of tracks played. A large proportion of ‘Is This Hyperreal?’ was performed much to my delight and I’m glad they had the nerve to feature so much in the set. One of the highlights from the new record was the insane version of ‘Rearrange Your Synapses’ which drove the audience into a wild frenzy. The classics like ‘Too Dead For Me’ and ‘Sick To Death’ obviously made an appearance and sounded remarkably fresh. It was hard to believe some of the tracks were over 10 years old.
The one thing I’ve learned about an Atari Teenage Riot gig is that it is relentless. It picks you up and doesn’t let you go for the whole set. The show finished around 12:30am which meant that the band was pretty much on full throttle for almost 2 hours. That’s an achievement in itself and makes a lot of the younger bands out at the moment look like, well, pussies. ATR live is like a drug. You leave the venue with a heady high already wanting the next hit. I hope I get to see them live at least one more time. Actually, make that two.