Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Atreyu at Irving Plaza

Alex Varkatzas
Reaching age 14 in Orange County, California, vocalist Alex Varkatzas formed the punk rock group Retribution in 1996 with guitarist Dan Jacobs and drummer (and later co-vocalist) Brandon Saller. Over the next two years, Retribution developed a heavier metalcore style and changed its name to Atreyu, after the character of the same name from Michael Ende's fantasy book The Neverending Story. Rhythm guitarist Travis Miguel joined in 2000 and bassist Marc McKnight joined in 2004. Atreyu achieved success but went on hiatus in 2011 and reunited in 2014. Atreyu's sixth album, Long Live, released on September 18, 2015, is the band's first album in six years.

Headlining at Irving Plaza tonight, Atreyu performed an energetic, hard hitting metal set featuring 15 songs from the band's catalogue. Varkatzas frequently launched the band into a pounding rocker with aggressive vocals, but then many of the songs would interject a more melodic interlude, often sung by the drummer. The set included Atreyu's fierce cover of Bon Jovi's "You Give Love a Bad Name," originally featured on the soundtrack to the film Mr. and Mrs. Smith. Several times during the set, Varkatzas sang at the stage barriers to connect with the fans in the front line, and at the end of the set he crowd surfed over them. The songs were powered by strong guitar riffs, although there were few extended solos; the regular set ended with the two guitarists momentarily playing behind their heads, but this was for show purposes only. While not breaking new ground, Atreyu's overall performance nevertheless engaged its fans by smoothly and dynamically detonating rough and melodic forces alternately.

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