Friday, October 8, 2010

Atari Teenage Riot at The Rickshaw (Vancouver)

Three long hours of listening to a string of DJs spinning glitchy drum and bass, though one of them kept throwing in some crazy remixes of 90s hits like Blur's “Song 2” and “What Is Love” by Haddaway. Finally, at 11pm, the lights dimmed and the theatre went quiet. A curious mix of onlookers watched the stage in anticipation—hardcore punks and college kids who grew out of 90s punk into 00s indie (or whatever the kids are listening to these days).

In 1992, Germany, Atari Teenage Riot was born, a terrifying new hybrid. They sprouted from the roots of anarchist hardcore punk and industrial drum and bass, both notorious among music's most aggressive countercultures, and defined a new genre: digital hardcore. Their political views—anarchist, anti-fascist and anti-Nazi—made them infamous in late-90s Germany. Their music and their live shows were surrounded by controversy and violence, getting them banned, censored and even arrested for a riotous anti-NATO protest. The band went their separate ways in 2000, but returned in early 2010 with new song, “Activate!” and a tour across Europe, Asia and North America.

A wave of feedback and noise began to ascend as a breakneck beat emerged. Finally, frontman and founder Alec Empire took the stage, behind Nic Endo, wearing her trademark white makeup with black Japanese characters over her face, and ATR's new MC CX KiDTRONiK. They began to shout the words to their new single “Hey! Activate! Hey! Activate! Hey! ARE YOU READY?!” The strobelights came on and the mass of bodies on the dancefloor went mental.

I spent the afternoon listening to this band, but nothing prepared me for the live intensity of Atari Teenage Riot's ear-scraping noise and mindsplitting beats. I love the feeling of discovering a new band, then just as I start to get into them, I get to see them live and they blow my mind, making an instant fan. It's happened to me three times in the past month (see Free Energy, The Drums and School of Seven Bells).

After the show, I was talking to a friend I ran into during the show. He was waiting with his friends to meet the band, one of his friends being none other than punk legend, Mr. Chi Pig of SNFU. Legends among legends. What a night.

Atari Teenage Riot: you are obscenely loud, your music is pure thump-smash-grinding noise that could easily spark debates over what is “music”, and for a band that has three DJ/vocalist/drum machinists and no actual band, your moshpit was mental. I loved when you came back for the encore and did three more songs, while throwing your equipment off the stage. You guys put on one hell of a show.

Tonight was the last night of the North American tour, as they're heading back to Europe for 12 dates in November. Don't miss them!

Atari Teenage Riot - Activate! (new single!)
Atari Teenage Riot - Destroy 2000 Years of Culture (zshare) (YSI) (1997 single)


Anonymous said...

who were the the DJ's that played before ATR????

S.K. said...

One of them was AutoErotique, from Toronto.

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