Friday, September 24, 2010

Live Review - Atari Teenage Riot @ Gramercy Theater

In the same week that the UN would gather in New York to discuss the problems of the world, one of the most volatile political acts would take the stage in New York for the first time in over a decade. On their first headlining tour since 1999, Germany’s Atari Teenage Riot came armed and ready to fire at the first stop of their North American tour. Atari Teenage Riot disbanded in 2000 and is currently celebrating a reunion that started last fall in the UK. The last time New York saw Atari Teenage Riot it was in venues like CBGB’s and Limelight, both have gone and turned into fashion stores, also ATR were joined by founding member Carl Crack. Crack died of a drug overdose in 2001 and the band is currently working and touring with Nine Inch Nails, Kanye West and Saul Williams collaborator CX Kidtronik. Though lineups and places may have changed, the band’s message of anarchy and disdain for politicians is still the same. With that, the band could have not picked a better time to come back to the city that never sleeps. Forming just after the Berlin wall fell, the band hit their prime of the mid 90’s, they pioneered a sound called “Digital Hardcore,” taking industrial sounds (think those of Nine Inch Nails, KMFDM, Ministry) and fused it with a trial hardcore punk message and lyrical approach. As the band’s rise around the world grew, so did the controversy around them. With internal struggles the band called it quits in 2000 and after 10 years, they are back together and just as hard and heavy as ever.
Arriving on stage, the members of ATR; Kidtronik, programmer and singer Nic Endo and front man and musical mastermind Alec Empire began their explosive set with their latest single “Activate,” and did just that. As the crowd, who never thought they would see this band get back together, savored every moment the band was just a pulse pounding sonic assault of hard and heavy beats and screaming vocals. Burning through their set list, which included “With No Remorse,” “No Success,” “Delete Yourself” and culminated into an hour of just non-stop performance. While the members of the band would take turns behind the programming decks and sing their verses, the crowd was in pure awe. It was everything they hoped and waited it would be. The band seemed as fresh and as severe as they were in their prime, even their latest addition Kidtronik fit the band like a glove, and you would have thought he was with the band since the beginning. After an hour of non stop playing and dancing on stage, the outspoken Alec Empire would introduce his band mates and call on the audience to rise up against their governments, saying “all governments murderers and support the corporations more than their people,” before breaking into the song that got them censored and banned in their native Germany “Burn, Berlin Burn.” With a brutal hour and a half set, the crowd, exhausted but entertained applauded the band and is now waiting for the next return. However, for a reunion like this, a gig like this is a moment that could never be repeated.

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