Words by Natalie Blacklock
Everyone leaves a legacy – no matter how big or small, words and actions forever make a lasting imprint and Atreyu is one of those bands for many of us. Whether you sung your little emo heart to Ex’s and Oh’s in high school, rocked out to Right Side Of The Bed blasting on your stereo or have memories of your first hectic encounter in a moshpit thanks to them, Atreyu are undoubtedly early 2000’s music royalty. Over two decades on since their formation in Southern California, metalcore gods Atreyu are making their triumphant and long awaited return to Australian shores for a run of headlining shows thanks to Silverback Touring.
The venue for the evening, The Zoo, is a staple of the city and is as iconic as they come. Founded by Brisbane legends Joc Curran and C. Smith in 1992, The Zoo has long been a space filled with passion and a burning love of music, which has continued today under the leadership of new owner Pixie Weyand. Over the past 28 years, the venue has played host to countless icons including; Lorde, The Pixies, Nick Cave, Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, Something For Kate, Regurgitator, Spiderbait, Powderfinger, as well as the likes of Violent Soho and Silverchair, to this day The Zoo is still considered to be the ‘stepping stone’ venue in Brisbane, giving a much-needed platform for local and international bands alike to shape their craft. Like many nights at The Zoo, the line of black t-shirt clad punters streamed from both sides of The Zoo’s front doors, snaking up the hill towards the Brunswick Street Mall and down the street and into Winn Lane. With doors to the venue opening a little behind schedule, but the set times standing firm, streams of punters were still trying to enter as the openers for the evening took to the stage.
The evening’s first act were founded within a bleak backdrop of humanitarian and environmental crisis, social disparity and dysfunction, along with the feelings of apathy, greed and tyranny, becoming the basis of Byron Bay extreme metal crew, From Crisis To Collapse. Formed in late 2015, the band take no prisoners approach to their assault on Australia’s underground scene and have accrued a slew of supports across Australia with the likes of with In Hearts Wake, King Parrot, Suicidal Tendencies, Sepultura and 36 Crazyfists. On hearing their first few songs from outside the venue, it was clear that From Crisis To Collapse meant business.
Frontman Angus Carter paused after the band’s first 3 tracks (Turning The Gun along with two as yet Untitled new tracks), telling the crowd of their excitement at playing The Zoo for the very first time and commenting on the sweatiness already lingering in the room. He also made a point of acknowledging the past, present and future custodians of the land through a poignant Welcome To Country. From Crisis To Collapse then ripped straight into Dimitri taken from their latest release ‘The Seventh Tree’. Frontman Carter told the crowd how special visiting Brisbane is for the band – particularly being their first show of the year. He also made a shout out for their next Brisbane show, the Brisbane Unites Bushfire Fundraiser at Mansfield Tavern on April 18th alongside a bunch of acts including Like Thieves, Darkcell, PistonFist, RHINO and THE AUTOMATON.
Their next track, Victory, was an interesting one and included a cleverly devised spoken-word section through the bridge. From Crisis To Collapse closed out their set with Slow Burn, a song about “not doing something stupid when you’re in a stupid head space” which saw Guitarists Ian Konrad and Chad Ellis shred themselves into oblivion. From Crisis To Collapse were definitely an interesting listen and a band that you should make an effort to check out.
Between sets, the house music of choice was a skilfully curated playlist dedicated to Australian hardcore legends Parkway Drive and featured tracks like Home Is For The Heartless, Vice Grip, Writings On The Wall and Bottom Feeder – which saw many punters nodding along while embracing the chance to cool off before the second act.
Up next were the national tour support, Ocean Sleeper, who have wasted no time in their relatively short spanning career. Since their humble beginnings in regional Victoria, they’ve managed to sell out headlining shows, tour alongside some of heavy music’s finest including Stray From The Path, Counterparts, Deez Nuts, Dream On Dreamer and Killswitch Engage and have appeared twice Unify Gathering in 2017 and 2019.
The stage was blackened and as the music came up, Ocean Sleeper appeared in a sea of strobe-lit colour as frontman Karl Spiessl announced “Hey Brisbane! Bring this forward, it’s Wednesday night but let’s party”. As Ocean Sleeper opened their set with the first two tracks from their 2019 release ‘Don’t Leave Me This Way’; Sleep Life Away and Killing Me, the crowd were already keen to get sweaty and clap along. Fellow album track Hate Me Like You Mean It brought the heavy as frontman Karl Spiessl, who was perched atop the foldbacks told the crowd in no uncertain terms to “spin this motherfucker”, encouraging a decent circle pit and the first of many crowdsurfers – none other that Angus Carter, the frontman of the evening’s earlier support act, From Crisis To Collapse.
Worthless No Purpose was hard-hitting, with Guitarist Ionei Heckenberg’s ‘clean’ vocals on the bridge killing it. The first song released by the band back in 2016, Breaking Free was a hit with the pit, causing the temperature in The Zoo to rise just a little bit more! 2018 single Save Me struck a chord as it opened with a melodic introducing before moving into sparkling guitar riffs and matched with Spiessl’s potent voice. The highlight of the set was Light In My Dark, with the lyricism behind this track really framing it as a classic ‘heartbreak’ track. Closing out their set with the energetic Six Feet Down saw more crowdsurfers come out of the woodwork in response to the interesting sounds coming courtesy of Stan Liagourdis on Guitar and Jarred Robson on Drums. Like any good support band should, Spiessland co. wound up the crowd to “make some fucking noise for Atreyu” – not once but twice before exiting the stage and make some noise they did. Ocean Sleeper unquestionably left an impression on the Brisbane crowd, leaving them wanting more.
Following on from the reprise of the Parkway Drive megamix, the crowd were primed and ready for Atreyu to get out on the stage. Their 20+ year career is testament to their prolific approach to music and the dedication of their fanbase. 2002’s ‘Suicide Notes and Butterfly Kisses’ pushed their name into the spotlight, while 2004 follow-up ‘The Curse’ cemented the band’s reputation as a global force in metalcore. Since then, Atreyu have released 5 more studio albums, playing countless headline shows in addition to sharing the stage with everyone from Slipknot and Linkin Park to Chris Cornell, Avenged Sevenfold and Bullet For My Valentine.
As Atreyu entered the stage, the crowd lost their minds, a trend which continued hard and fast as they opened the set with The Time Is Now from their latest release ‘In Our Wake’. It didn’t take long, however, for the old school fans to get their fill of rock-god poses (courtesy of Guitarist Dan Jacobs and Bassist Marc “Porter” McKnight) and spirit fingers as the Californian legends got straight into Right Side of The Bed from their 2004 breakthrough record ‘The Curse’ – a song which I first heard on a Victory Records Sampler from that same year which featured a stack of bands including Hawthorne Heights, Silverstein and Bayside. Charismatic frontman Alex Varkatzas took a moment to thank the crowd for “coming out and supporting live rock and fucking roll” before getting right into Doomsday, seemingly without his t-shirt – which isn’t a surprise given the rising temperature inside The Zoo.
Ex’s and Oh’s from 2006’s ‘A Death-Grip On Yesterday’ woke up the pit yet again, while older and newer tracks alike including In Our Wake, Falling Down and Do You Know Who You Are? gave a clear indication that Atreyu haven’t lost any of their spark over their almost two decades as a band. Following a few shoutouts from the crowd, frontman Alex Varkatzas teased the crowd; “How many of you guys were hoping we’d play The Crimson?” As the crowd went wild, Varkatzas moved in slow motion as he said “Guess what? We’re gonna do it right n- o- w-” and play it they did – making it one of the standout tracks of the evening. 2006 banger, The Theft, went over well with the crowd, but by the end of it, everyone needed a break – the band even left the stage momentarily presumably to rehydrate.
On their return, Drummer and Co-Vocalist Brandon Saller exclaimed “let’s cut the shit and start the pit” as the band got into Bleeding Mascara from 2004’s ‘The Curse’. Saller introduced Atreyu’s first cover of the set, Bon Jovi’s You Give Love A Bad Name as “a little number is one we can all sing together” to which the crowd gladly obliged. After stopping again briefly, for a quick ‘towel-down’, the 5-piece got straight back to the music with Becoming The Bull followed by newer cut Anger Left Behind, both of which were priming the sold-out crowd for things to come with Drummer Saller quick to incite the biggest circle pit of the night for When Two Are One from 2007’s ‘Lead Sails Paper Anchor’.
Calls from fans in the front row led to an impromptu Happy Birthday singalong to a fan by the name of Erin, who found herself on stage, stealing a quick hug from the lads before they continued with new and super-catchy track House of Gold. An acapella rendition of a few verses of Whitney Houston’s 1987 track I Wanna Dance With Somebody held the crowd’s attention before Atreyu closed their main set with Ain’t Love Grand – combining cross axe guitar solos from Guitarist Dan Jacobs and Bassist Marc “Porter” McKnight and just the right amount of cowbell from Brandon Saller’s Drumkit. After the band exited the stage, it didn’t take long for the moshpit to start a “holy shit” chant followed by calls for an encore.
Guitarist Dan Jacobs and Drummer Brandon Saller emerged offering the crowd a stripped back interpretation of Rick Astley’s Never Gonna Give You Up, which Saller owned on Vocals. As the rest of the band returned to the stage, frontman Alex Varkatzas promised one last song – Lip Gloss and Black from the band’s first album ‘Suicide Notes and Butterfly Kisses’. The track had it all and was definitely a sight to be seen – synced ‘sprinkler’ Guitars (imagine the corny dance move you pull out after a few too many drinks) and some cleverly positioned behind-the-head shredding from Jacobs, McKnight and Travis Miguel plus the crowd swaying in unison, arms high in the air. As the house lights came up, the push to grab a drumstick or a setlist saw Saller orchestrate a light-hearted and spur-of-the-moment cheer-off between different sections of the venue to decide where the goods should go, with many happy fans snaring a memento of the show before heading off into the much cooler night air of Fortitude Valley.
Atreyu have again cemented their place as metalcore royalty and they’re ready for February / March Mosh Fest to remember! You’re not going to want to miss this run of Atreyu shows, so check out all the information for the remaining dates of their Australian tour HERE.
27 February – Manning Bar | Sydney (18+)
28 February – Max Watts | Melbourne (18+)
29 February – Amplifier | Perth (18+)
1 March – Jive | Adelaide (18+)