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The Ataris Impress at Sozo

“The Ataris were just here last semester, right?” was all one could hear when waiting outside of Sozo yesterday as a rush of people flooded in to see the pop punk quartet before they left for the semester. Everyone wondered what they’d be playing tonight. New songs? Old songs? It left a crowd full of punks clueless as they waited to see the early 2000s pop-rock sensations only six months after their last tour stop.

Overall it was a great show.

The Ataris’ set list was comprised mostly of songs from 2003’s platinum effort So Long, Astoria – a smart choice overall. The band sounded very strong and replicated their studio magic well. Even more surprising was their choice of songs for an “encore”. The band chose three Misfits covers to close their performance with. “I Turned into a Martian”, “Skulls”, and “Astro Zombies” were all well received and sounded great – Danzig or not. As a bonus, the band even announced their plans to return to State College early next fall.

Read our reaction to the opening bands after the jump.

The first band, Shelbyville, stepped onstage in ironic tee shirts and cargo shorts, looking like they were straight out of the garage. Their brand of pop punk was clever – something I was surprised and impressed by. Their banter – something that was emphasized by most of the bands – was funny and appropriately nonsensical. They even cited the animated television show Doug as the inspiration for one of their songs – something that helped win over their Gen Y crowd. The trio, while maybe far from rock star glam, showed true passion for their songs and their performance was very genuine. With some time, these boys could grow into a well polished act. They return to Sozo on May 6th for those interested in an encore performance.

Next on the bill was Acalasia. Having lost track of the number of times I’ve seen these guys (and girl), I found their set very familiar. This particular performance may have been their best set to date – they were all in tune and had great chemistry. They invited a guest singer, Nick, on board who had a lovely duet with lead singer Krystal Shore. They do a great job of getting their names out there and should be noted for their dedication to their work.

Unfortunately, things went downhill from there. On the Run, the next band to take the stage was good, don’t get me wrong. They just lacked “it”. Their songs were well thought out; they just lacked the hooks that make pop punk the addicting phenomenon it is. On a brighter note, they won the award for “most hair” by a landslide. Overall a good performance, but not as good as I would have expected from their appearance. Don’t judge a book by its cover.

Pull the Pin, the final band to open for The Ataris was easily the worst. It’s rare that I don’t find anything redeeming in a band’s performance. This was the exception. The Pennsylvania natives were a well conceived pop punk band. The only problem is that they may have been the biggest Blink-182 rip off since the 90s. From their power-trio format to their lead singer’s all-too-much-like-Tom DeLonge’s whine of a voice, it was clear that they were a direct regurgitation of their influences. On top of it, their banter in between songs was far too long and wildly absurd. I felt bad whenever fellow band members had to stop their front man and guitarist from wasting the band’s time. They’ll be performing on the Vans’ Warped Tour this year at a number of spots if you’re still curious. Pull the Pin: you’ve just been “big timed”. Please never come back.

Finally, Kris Roe of The Ataris stepped up to begin setting up his guitar rig. Their show began as the lights dimmed to set the mood akin to a grungy basement. Their set list was comprised mostly of songs from 2003’s platinum effort So Long, Astoria – a smart choice overall. The band sounded very strong and replicated their studio magic well. Even more surprising was their choice of songs for an “encore”. The band chose three Misfits covers to close their performance with. “I Turned into a Martian”, “Skulls”, and “Astro Zombies” were all well received and sounded great – Danzig or not. As a bonus, the band even announced their plans to return to State College early next fall.

Overall it was a great show. Some great talents, both new and old, were showcased all thanks to Garrett Bogden and his efforts towards Nittany Booking. Kudos to Sozo and everyone who helped put this one together.

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