Atari Teenage Riot
With Yip-Yip and Otto Von Shirach
Culture Room, Fort Lauderdale
Tuesday, September 13, 2011
View a slideshow from the concert here.
Better than: A cheap imitation.
It has been a decade since the heyday of Atari Teenage Riot, a caustic electronic outfit led by beatsmith and occasional inciter Alec Empire. And though there has been a bit of lineup shuffling since the late '90s, very little has changed about the over-the-top attitude of this group. The audience at Culture Room let the dense noise of grinding gears, ear-splitting thuds, seizure-inducing strobe lights, and merciless breakbeats take them over Tuesday night, and the many, many, many calls for a revolution were answered.
Empire now has two complimentary MCs in rotation to ensure that the crowd is amped through the pounding they endure. Black with a crooked mohawk, CX Kidtronik bounced around the stage and spun his mic through the air through the jack-hammering of "Midijunkies," in which he asserts quite plainly that the song's titular characters will "fuck you up!" Gleaning much else from his message would require standing still, which wasn't really an option for anyone close to the scrum forming near front of the stage.
Nic Endo provided a fine counterbalance to Kidtronik's b-boy stances with her own bit of punk posturing. In a tight, white wife-beater, painted-on black slacks, and a pair of bright yellow kicks, Endo was apocalyptic chic. Clearly comfortable to scream and contort her painted face, Endo owned every inch of the performance area. She's been pointing seductively into crowds, rolling on stages, and strangling herself with microphone cords much longer than Alice Glass, and even Karen O, and it shows. One of ATR's newer tracks, the dark anti-mutilation anthem "Blood in My Eyes," got her to unpour her voice completely.
All the while, the tall, handsome Empire powered through the beats on a stack of drum machines, and a load of items with knobs to twirl. Looking back to vintage performance footage from the late '90s confirms that he has aged little -- and hasn't bought new skinny jeans or opted for a different hairstyle -- since then. An occasional trip to the front of the stage always brought the excitable crowd another reason to bellow following his urgings via a hand to his ear or two fists pointed triumphantly skyward. Chants, claps and lots of "Atari Teenage motherfucking Riot!" came courtesy of this guy throughout.
Although the general theme of the night proved to be a blinding, deafening, and punishing experience, the final song of the the encore proved to be a satisfying shift. "The Collapse of History," from this year's Is This Hyperreal?, has the anthemic power to fill a soccer stadium, as well as an infectious vocal line that's impossible not to sing along to. The song speaks of being able to "move another generation to action," and this is how to do it.
The crowd: Lots of polite moshing in the center of the half-filled venue. Exceptional costuming found throughout -- sprung from fans of the decadently dressed Otto Von Shirach and Yip Yip as openers. Many mohawks, black T-shirts Nosferatu masks, and one guy in a Mexican wrestling mask.
The venue: No smoking signs were posted everywhere. With so many bodies bouncing around, it probably was a safety measure as much as one for air quality.