This passed Thursday I was able to witness the 10th Anniversary tour of So Long, Astoria by the Ataris. I have been excited for this show since they first announced it last December. Not only were they planning on playing the album from beginning to end, but the members that played on the album would be performing together since that time era. For me, I knew this show was going to be nostalgic and memorable, but I wasn’t prepared for how much.
The show was to start at 7 with Gasoline Heart, but about 20 minutes before 7, everyone was treated to Donald Spence from the band Versus the World. Versus The World was actually on the west coast dates of this tour, but Donald is actually on the entire tour because he is playing extra guitar for the Ataris. For those that don’t know, Mike Davenport, former bass player of the Ataris plays bass in Versus The World now. Donald played some Versus The World material and his own solo material which was done nicely. Donald played with such emotion, that it kicked the show off just right. For those not familiar with Donald Spence and Versus the World, think Bayside, but with a lot more emotion in the vocals.
Gasoline Heart came on next. This was my second time seeing Gasoline Heart. Having just seen Louis a few months back doing a solo show, I was expecting the same energy and comedy. Gasoline Heart didn’t let me down. As a full band, Gasoline Heart gives 110%. I am baffled that they are not a much bigger band. They have a great stage presence and strong songs. I guess it would have to take them to open for Foo Fighters to get bigger. Either way seeing this band live should turn you into a fan. Think if The Replacements, The Wallflowers, and The Clash had a child, it would be Gasoline Heart. I can’t forget Louis’ humor through the whole set, which is entertaining in itself. It would’ve been funny if the B 52’s did play after the Ataris. During Gasoline Heart’s last song, Louis went over the barricade to push people closer to the front and got everyone to sing along. Something he did during his solo show. I hope this got people to warm up to Gasoline Heart and I hope they gained a good amount fans from this show and tour.
Drag The River was followed after Gasoline Heart. A band that features members Chad Price and Jon Snodgrass, who aren’t strangers to the punk rock music world. Do your homework and look those guys up, and then come back here. Taking the folk/country music route, Drag the River performed an excellent set. Their set started off with just Chad and Jon, but then members of Authority Zero came on and helped on bass and drums. I am not sure how many people in attendance knew Drag The River or their history, but I hope some people went home as fans.
Before the Ataris took the stage, Authority Zero came on and almost destroyed the place. Authority Zero is a rock band from Arizona that has too much energy to contain. As soon as they hit the stage, the band was off the floor with lead singer Jason DeVore yelling his words at the crowd. There were fans of the band in the crowd because you could hear them yelling the words back at Jason. I never saw Authority Zero live before, but I was impressed. I haven’t seen this much energy in a band since Moneen. Even Authority Zero’s drummer was getting up during their set. I think the crowd was blown away by them and got the crowd excited for the Ataris.
The last set of the night was the Ataris. Where would I be without the Ataris? The Ataris was one of my gateway drugs into this crazy love for music, and they also taught me about girls and life. I can recount where and when I bought each of their albums because they had that much of an impact on my life. Without Ataris, I would’ve never gotten into The Replacements, Billy Bragg, Gaslight Anthem, and the list goes on. Without Ataris, I wouldn’t be photographing the way I do, not because Kris Roe also photographs, but because the way his words are written. They come across visually compared to other lyricists and I try to make them come to life in some my photos.
It’s been years since this line up has performed together. Mike Davenport played as if he has been locked up for years waiting to play these songs again because he was moving around the stage nonstop. When John Collura left the band, I was disappointed because I always loved his stage presence. He isn’t doing flips or kicks on stage, but his movement is always in sync with the drums. It was great witnessing him perform again. It was also great to see drummer Chris Knapp playing drums again. His drumming sounds great and it is a shame he isn’t in another band, but I heard Yellowcard needs a new drummer. Lastly Kris Roe sounds great as ever. His voice is stronger than ever and I hope he continues the Ataris for as long as he can.
So Long, Astoria falls into a list of albums that are timeless to me. I could listen to these albums at any age and still connect, especially with this album and as I get older I still find new things about this album. It still surprises me that an album that was released on a major label is one of my favorites. There is always a fear that when a band on an indie label makes a move to a major their album is subpar, but this wasn’t the case for the Ataris. So Long, Astoria to me is their best work, until I heard Welcome the Night. I think that was a masterpiece, but the new album is shaping up to sound just as amazing.
The night was filled with nostalgic memories, songs like “So Long, Astoria” reminded me of times with my friends where we went on adventures like the groups in The Goonies and Stand By Me. Then there were songs that reminded me of past friends and past loves like “My Reply” and “The Hero Dies In This One”. There is so much I could write about this album and how it affected me growing up and even as I still grow up, but this would turn into long essay. Maybe we will see a vinyl reissue in the near future and when I finish my MBA I will make a post about the vinyl.
After they performed So Long, Astoria Kris Roe came on stage and performed two acoustic songs. The first one was “San Dimas High School Football Rules” which is a given since it is their anthem of sorts and the second was a request from the crowd. “I.O.U. One Galaxy” was performed which was a surprise and another nostalgic song for me. Following the short acoustic act, the rest of band came on to perform “I Won’t Spend Another Night Alone” which was a secret song off of So Long, Astoria.
This night was unforgettable. Hearing and seeing this album being performed in full was something I will look back on and always remember. After the show ended I walked back to my car and passed a homeless person not much older than me with a sign that said “Homeless and alone.” I wish I saw him earlier because I had an extra ticket to the show and I would’ve brought him in to let him experience this night. However, what I did do was grab the bag of old clothes I keep in my car and gave them to him. I told him, “I am not sure if these will fit you but here is a hoodie, shirts, and long sleeve shirts.” He said thank you and I went on my way home. I hope his night was as memorable as mine, and I hope, whoever he was, finds shelter somewhere and knows he is not alone.
“Appreciate the good times,
But don’t take the worst for granted,
Because you only get so many second chances.”