Fans of OC's metalcore heroes Atreyu were packed and squished like a can of sardines for two sold-out nights in a row, at the Observatory's main stage room, in Santa Ana starting with their performance on Friday night. As a special commemoration of the breakthrough album, The Curse (2004), the band performed the entire record.
The observatory's main room was completely stuffed with generations of metal fans; from young, to middle age to older, everyone from long haired thrashers and kids in punk shirts was giving off a collective energy and enthusiasm for the night's headliners, Atreyu.
By 8:40 the entire floor area was full to capacity, as many others eagerly rushed in, to snatch a good spot surrounding the stage. The lines for alcohol and the restrooms were at an all time high, as the level of excitement and pre-show anxiety filled the air. As the lights went out, fans began to roar. But the band didn't immediately come on stage. First, two projector screens showed documentary style footage Atreyu, showcasing the stages of the band's career, starting with the first days of the band in 1998, in the OC and surrounding areas. From the band's early days of wearing make up and being part of the 'Fashioncore' scene, to the writing and recording of The Curse and the infinite touring cycles, the video was interesting, but even die hard fans became impatient after 10 minutes.
From the first note off of the intro, and the first song, 'Bleeding Mascara,' the crowd and band united as one glob, a mass of bodies and a few musicians all exuding tremendous amounts of sweat and emotion. The Curse sounded exceptional live. The timing of the drums was spot on and the guitars were also synched up nicely to the bass, with Dan Jacobs holding it down with the right amount of metalcore and hints of catchy hardcore and death metal guitar tones. Vocalist Alex Varkatzas took command of the stage and throughout the night the aggressive guttural vocals were contrasted by a cleaner melodic singing as well that showed a duality the band has been known for. Varkatzas delivered a heartfelt rendition of the album, each song capturing the perfect sound that had enough metal, metalcore emo and nu metal all rolled into one cohesive sound. Bassist Marc McKnight was a like a wild animal onstage, doing various jump flips, rolling kick moves and a thunderous bass heavy sound that were impressive as his monstrous beard.
What made this such as great concert was the fan reaction, as the slam dance pit never ceased moving from the time the band came out on stage to the last song. The amount of crowd surfers (both male and female), and stage divers rivaled any hardcore punk show, and was so over the top that it became a bit redundant. The growing, disturbing fad of people who jump onstage, and take selfies with the band members needs to stop. It was of course, all in the name of good fun, and the band encouraged fans to jump on stage and dive back into the crowd. People were literally swimming through bodies, and no one on stage seemed to mind to much." These guys are some of the nicest fucking security guards ever!" Varkatzas told the crowd, as the final swath of stage divers jumped off stage.
Songs such as "You Eclipse Me," "The Crimson," and "Demonology and Heartache," had fans singing along, jumping and moshing away to the music. By the time the final track, "Five Vicodin Chased with a Shot of Clarity," was be played, fans were already shouting for one more song. The band bowed, then several moments later came back to cheers and played the encore, a cover of Bon Jovi's "You Give Love a Bad Name."
All in all, Atreyu have cemented their legacy as an OC band to go national, and share the stage with some of the biggest names in metal. The show at the Observatory Friday night was all about the fans and the chance to see the band in an intimate setting, in their hometown was an amazing experience, and a great contrast to their outdoor daytime performance at Slipknot's recent Knotfest. The band had a great exuberant stage presence and a very humble attitude as well.
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