So I know I bashed Kris a few posts ago, but he has redeemed himself somewhat. After promising to return to the old Ataris’ style and touring playing most of The Ataris’ best album acoustic, Kris deserves a round of applause. Of course it could just be a scheme to get some more money, but I appreciate Kris revisiting early Ataris material. Maybe he’s gone through another divorce and needs to sing some good old fashioned break up songs. Either way, here is my review of his show at Baltimore’s The Ottobar last Monday, Feb. 25th. (The fan who shouted “no!” was me. I am so punk rock. </sarcasm>)
The Ataris formed and started playing pop-punk in 1995. Led by vocalist and guitarist Kris Roe, The Ataris progressed through five albums, Anywhere but Here, Blue Skies, Broken Hearts, Next 12 Exits, End is Forever, So Long, Astoria, and Welcome to the Night, getting more and more radio-friendly and having a complete line-up change aside from Roe because no one in the band could stand to work with him once it became obvious he was only interested in air time on the radio. Recently, Roe seems to have realized his mistakes and has been getting back to basics. First came the announcement last September that The Ataris would start recording material resembling their old sound, “Even though artistically I may have changed personally. I do think The Ataris next record will sort of pick up where End is Forever and Blue Skies, Broken Hearts – Next 12 Exits… left off,” read the statement from Kris Roe. If this wasn’t enough to excite the old fans, later came the announcement that Roe would be touring and playing acoustic Blue Skies, Broken Hearts, Next 12 Exits in its entirety. If that wasn’t enough to excite the old fans, then there must be no hope for them. As much as this old fan wanted to hate on Kris Roe because of the recent crap released by The Ataris, I could not deny the opportunity to hear some of my all-time favorite tunes played acoustically by the guy that wrote them.
Kris Roe appeared at The Ottobar in Baltimore last Monday, and it was spectacular. By the time he took the stage at 10:30, the floor was maybe a third full. One might expect to see a bigger crowd for the famed front man, but then again it was a Monday.
Kris catered to his old fans needs and gave us all an overwhelming dose of old Ataris songs, playing the majority of Blue Skies, but not quite the entire album. He responded well to requests and played a couple from End is Forever and “Boxcar”, a Jawbreaker cover, from Anywhere but Here….
Kris must’ve strained his hand pushing through songs one after another, but he gave himself a break as he interacted with the crowd. He gave lengthy explanations about the song meanings and inspirations, which is always fun to know, especially when they involve juicy drama – Kris admitted to cheating on his girlfriend with a friend of his girlfriend who was also in a relationship. He also mentioned that he ran into the boyfriend of the cheatee in a bar later, “and it was not a good time,” he said. He often poked fun at himself and his songwriting since the majority of Ataris material was full of teen angst and break-up lyrics. Before playing “The Last Song I Will Ever Write about a Girl,” Kris said “Obviously that wasn’t true,” referring to the song title.
One fan who might’ve only been familiar with The Ataris’ radio hits shouted out “Boys of Summer!” and Kris asked the crowd, “You guys really want to hear that song?” as if to suggest that this show was not meant to promote the radio-friendly Ataris songs. Another audience member shouted “No!” because they definitely weren’t in the mood to hear an Eagles cover song when they had paid 10 bucks to hear old Ataris material. He did play radio-hit “In This Diary” and got the teeny bopper fans to freak out.
The show was a great time. I’m not sure why Kris Roe has decided to revert to his roots, but I appreciate it and I was willing to contribute $10 to funding his artistic relapse. If you are not familiar with The Ataris, check them out at www.myspace.com/theataris.