By: Taylor Morgan
It's been at least a decade since Atreyu have set foot on stage at their old stomping grounds inside Chain Reaction. In that time, they've managed to reach the height of metalcore fame, release five albums, followed by a five year hiatus and now deliver one of the biggest reunion shows in OC at the tail end of summer. And what better place to do it then the venue that helped nurture them from the very beginning?
Inside the packed, steaming venue, chants of "A-trey-you– A-trey-u–A-trey-u!" waft over the crowd. So does the smell of BO. The energy throughout the venue, which sold out in minutes, is undeniably contagious. It's been about three years since the band played their last show together and the anticipation for a new chapter for the band, as well as the release of their forthcoming new album, is well documented.
Alex Varkatzas, the band's main vocalist gives the fans a shot of adrenaline with "The Crimson," screaming lyrics like "Just live and breathe and try not to die again," with throat- shredding intensity. In between songs, Varkatzas makes it a point to address the crowd. "When we started playing music it was like this, right here, having fun with you guys. Tonight have as much fun as humanly possible. If someone falls– pick them up. If I stage dive–catch me!"
The band quickly transitions to "Bleeding Mascara." Drummer Brandon Saller's melodic chorus vocals soar over the chaos– "look how pretty she is when she falls down, she's like a withering rose." Heads bang feverishly and crowd surfers soar among the rainbow lights that flash through the room. The band moves on to "Blow" for a legendary guitar solo from Dan Jacobs as the crowd raises hands high, moving fingers back and forth as if they're playing a guitar in the sky. During "Gallows," the crowd bounces in sequence with the drum and Varkatzas wraps the microphone cord around his neck. After the song's over, he announces that the band have been working on a new album they plan to release next year. They perform their recently released single "So Others May Live" that comes across brilliant live, despite mixed reviews from critics. Bassist Marc McKnight twirls his beard alongside guitarist Travis Miguel and then spits up into the air and they all sing, "rich kids don't go go to war!"
They move right along to "A Vampire's Lament" but first preface it by saying, "This song was about vampires before vampires were fucking cool." Next up is"Becoming The Bull" after which Varkatzas confesses to the crowd how awesome it is to pursue something you love. "Find something you're good at. The five of us had a dream and we lost that for awhile but we are back here because of you guys." They sing "Right Side of The Bed" and then move on to perform "You Eclipsed Me" and "Ex's and Oh's." The drums thump like a heartbeat and somewhere between a gnarly scream and a voracious mosh pit, a guy has been knocked out. It takes a few minutes but he gets carried safely to the side of the venue. They begin "Your Private War" which sounds incredibly sexy as the opening lyrics kick in. "For my whole life, I have been burning down bridges/my only problem was foresight." They conclude with "United Finale" before leaving the stage to the sound of a roaring chant in the crowd that alternates between 'USA!' to 'Atreyu!'
For their encore, the band performed their popular Bon Jovi cover of "You Give Love A Bad Name" and next "Lip Gloss and Black." The mosh pit swarms and some guy in the pit relentlessly throws punches left and right as the band close out the night out with the song's parting chant "Live. Love. Burn. Die!" Luckily, it appears Atreyu is ready to repeat that cycle all over again as they set out to record new music. But after the show, all that was left was a saturated floor of sweat and a crowd of black clothes, piercings, and smoke with a reinforced love of one of OC's biggest bands.
So Others May Live
A Vampire's Lament
Becoming The Bull
Right Side of The Bed
You Eclipsed Me
Ex's and Oh's
Your Private War
You Give Love A Bad Name (Bon Jovi Cover)
Lip Gloss and Black