A Night with Atreyu
Atreyu was one of the first bands I ever interviewed. I spoke to them at the Mayhem Festival in 2010 during a strange time in music. They had released “Congregation of the Damned” in the Fall of 2009. Oil had spilled in the Gulf of Mexico. The world was looking like a big mess. And musicians, even by Rob Halford’s (of Judas Priest) account to us, had acknowledged that everything in the music business had changed. Things were totally different. It was almost if I had arrived just in time for the death rattle. By 2011, unbeknownst to Atreyu fans, that was going to be it for them for a while. Since then the Orange County based metal core band has been on a hiatus (and in many ways, not long after so have I). So it’s appropriate that I close out the 2014 year with an Atreyu retrospective (of sorts) and talk about Atreyu, and music in general, in a way that maybe you haven’t thought about, but should.
Let’s be clear, while the business of music may have drastically changed, the scene has not. People are still going to see live music. The show at the Observatory demonstrated that Atreyu’s fans are as rabid and eager as ever. It was too bad I arrived into Orange County a day late, missing their 1st performance where they covered their album “The Curse” in its entirety. I still remember when “The Curse” was first released and the band had made an in store appearance at the Virgin Megastore (now closed) at The Block in Orange, CA. The line of fans, back then, went through the Megastore and out the door. The paradigm of music consumption since then has not just shifted to online retailers and digital downloads, but you’re hard pressed to find brick and mortar retailers that specialize in music at all (maybe a few are left like Rasputin or Amoeba off the top of my head). However, long gone are the record stores of the past. So if things have changed, they’ve changed in this way: music itself is no longer the commodity that it once was, but the bands themselves still are.
Atreyu’s second show was full of people, including myself, that had had made Mecca-like treks to see them (some as many as twenty times by their own accounts). Which brings me to the point of this concert and why people who go to live events or make these kinds of sacrifices. The act itself is a part of what separates those that go for the music and those that casually say that they like music. There’s a world of difference. Fans of Atreyu will attest that they will walk to the ends of the earth for a full contact experience that only a live show can bring. Not only did the concert feature an assortment of old songs and their new one (“So Others May Live”), but it served as a reminder that music going experience transcends what you might hear on your iPod. Music speaks to us profoundly, but you truly never know what you’re going to get from the moment the band walks on stage to the moment the drummer tosses his last stick into the audience. At the Observatory, the Atreyu fans were united with their hometown sons singing (and even at times crying) in unison through much of the night. It was a blazing wall of sound proving that if you can’t go home again, you haven’t spoken to Atreyu (or me) about it.
I was left with this impression as the concert ended and fans were screaming for “one-more-song” mixed with a chorus of “A-trey-u’s” that they were given more than a show as the band tossed out an assortment of guitar picks, set lists and drum sticks. These were the kinds of things you can’t get from a download. It served as a reminder that in order for the bands that aren’t backed by corporate entities that serve us Beyonce and Jay-Z on an American Idol platter that the fans need to keep these things in mind or bands like Atreyu will also go the way of Virgin Megastores as well. Yes, the world is a different place, but if you support your music like the treasure it is there is no way that bands like Atreyu (and many others) will go out quietly. Just something to think about as we enter 2015 – we are the culture of music.