Every so often I am surprised that bands I enjoyed in my younger days are still going strong now, albeit on a much smaller scale than before. Long gone are the huge venues with thousands of crowds. Now they are relegated to the smaller more intimate shows. If a band manages to maintain a career it begins and ends in these small shows. I personally prefer these smaller shows as it lets you get up close and personal with these bands. That is why when I heard that The Ataris and MXPX were playing at The First Unitarian Church I jumped at the chance to go. When I was younger two things I always wanted to do was see MXPX and go to The First Unitarian Church for one of their legendary shows. This show gave me an opportunity to kill two birds with one stone. Considering how both bands have been around for over 20 years I wondered if my wait would be worth it.
Until that night I had never been to The First Unitarian Church. I got exactly what I expected. A typical church all purpose room. Decent sized space with a small stage. Until the crowd started to fill up I didn’t notice how laughably close to the ground it was making it almost impossible to see the band from anywhere except the very front. Something that would prove mildly frustrating once the concert started.
While I didn’t go there with the express purpose of seeing The Ataris I was mildly curious to see them live. I have been to many shows in my time. So many opening acts over the years have been mediocre at best. The crowds tend to be small since a majority of the people won’t show up until the main band starts. I was surprised by how packed it already got when The Ataris took the stage. Talking to people in the crowd, more than a few were there just to see The Ataris over MXPX. While they were known for being pop-punk a lot of their music had more of a 90’s alt rock sound. They played well to the audience and did a very good job getting them warmed up. I have to admit it piqued my interest and makes me want to see more of them.
After a brief intermission MXPX was ready to take the stage. Would my 20+ years waiting have been worth it or would I be disappointed? The place was packed to the gills with people even standing just outside the doorway. Then the band started and I immediately flashed back to 19 year old me. Up front stage diving and a mosh pit started almost from the start as their early set kicked off with their more skater punk roots. Though the thrash of the guitars and quick tempos were kind of lost with the muddiness of the sound mixer. There were times it was hard to distinguish what songs they were playing during this time. It had been so long since I had listened to MXPX I couldn’t remember the titles of the songs they were playing, but they still sounded vaguely familiar.
I tried to get pictures of the band during their performance, but the problem with the very low stage made this next to impossible. Forget getting close to the stage because it was so packed and the mosh pit didn’t help matters since I felt I was too old for that sort of thing. This fact was made very apparent when singer/ guitarist Mike Herrera told a story about how he went to a Black Flag concert and tweaked his knee in the pit. I looked around at the crowd to see that almost all of us were people my age (or older) with their kids. This officially was a Dad show. It made me kind of happy to know I wasn’t too old to enjoy punk music.
As the set came to a close they ended with a pretty decent cover of The Clash’s “Should I Stay Or Should I go?” Considering the non-stop energy of the performance, the crowd surprisingly kept up with the band throughout the show. When it came time for them to do their encore, the riff of “Punk Rock Show” gave me the little boost of energy I needed to keep going. It was the highlight of my night. The combination of skater and pop-punk sounds made it a nice mix. Whenever they played a new song all I could think is it sounded like their other music, but that isn’t a bad thing. It is comforting to be reminded of days gone by. I felt an energy I hadn’t felt in a long time. It is something I hope to feel again soon.Preview