The Ataris played a reunion show at SLO Brewing Company this past Monday.
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Nostalgic fans queued in a short line outside SLO Brewing Co. this past Monday night, ready for a decade-long throwback courtesy of pop-punk band The Ataris.
The Ataris released four albums before disbanding in 2004. Now, 10 years later, the band is back on the road for one last tour, dubbed the So Long, Astoria reunion tour, named after its 2003 album.
Old-time fans waited patiently outside the bar to relive their angsty teenage years and see one of their old favorites perform live.
Doors opened at 7:30 p.m. and the line trickled inside, where the opening band, Murderland, was wrapping up its mic check — meaning bassist Jerry Also repeated the word “blowjob” into his microphone while gesturing to indicate sound level adjustments.
The rest of the band took to their instruments in a storm of baggy shorts, baseball caps and Vans. Lead singer Mike Kinshella made his introduction.
“Grab someone attractive of the opposite sex, swing ‘em around and do what you college kids do,” he said.
With that, Murderland kicked off a set of fast-paced pop-punk reminiscent of 1990s Green Day, but with more screaming.
Next up was San Luis Obispo band The Mighty Fine. The audience had only slightly thickened since Murderland’s performance, but they didn’t seem to mind.
The Mighty Fine launched into a set of heavy punk rock with loud, strained vocals and a metal edge.
A few songs in, lead singer Brook Thompson announced the band’s album release.
“It’s a very exciting night for us,” he said.
Thompson explained that roughly one year ago, Mighty Fine recorded an album. Monday night’s show was the first night the album was available for purchase, and it would officially be released the next day, he said.
The Mighty Fine had performed with The Ataris both Monday and the previous night in Fresno, Thompson said.
“It’s a fucking honor for me and for all of us to be able to play these two shows,” he said.
As the set continued, audience members crowded in front of the stage, occasionally making lazy, short-lived attempts to mosh.
Santa Barbara band Versus The World commandeered the stage next, at which point SLO Brew’s bar was packed with observers, though the floor remained spacious. Versus The World bassist Mike Davenport also plays in The Ataris.
The band members set up equipment while joking with the crowd and passing around a bottle of Jameson whiskey.
Lead singer Donald Spence stepped to his microphone.
“We fucking love SLO Brew,” Spence said. “This reminds us of home.”
With that, Versus The World dove into a flurry of ear-numbing punk rock. Some audience members knew the words to the band’s songs and sang along.
Toward the end of its set, Spence gestured to the somewhat-empty floor and mocked his non-bar-dwelling audience.
“This is where all the children hang out,” he said, taking a swig of whiskey.
A couple songs later, the stage again changed hands, and this time it was finally The Ataris’ turn to set up.
During setup, art and design senior Katie Burgin anxiously awaited the performance.
Burgin has been a fan of The Ataris for 10 years, she said.
“It has enough of an edge without being too ‘screamy,’” she said.
Burgin likes both The Ataris’ sound and their lyrics, she said. She was excited to see the band in person.
“It’s always better to see music live,” she said.
At approximately 10:45 p.m., the time came.
The emotion of reunion hung thick in the air as the band members exchanged pre-show brotherly hugs on stage. They also reached toward their audience of long-time fans with high-fives and handshakes.
The Ataris hadn’t played at SLO Brew since it disbanded 10 years ago. Now, they are a little older, a little stockier and as genuinely excited about their music as ever.
The band started its set, which kicked off with the title track of their 2003 album So Long, Astoria and ran through the rest of the record.
The Ataris played with a smoother sound than the show’s predecessors, channeling the alternative end of punk rock rather than the metal side of it.
The band was all smiles, as was its audience. The floor crawled with head-banging, fist-pumping fans who knew every word to every song.
After its second song, “Takeoffs and Landings,” lead singer Kristopher Roe took the microphone and stated what all the band members seemed to be thinking.
“We’re fucking back,” Roe said.