Way before Atari Teenage Riot took the stage at Red 7, the crowd, in eager anticipation, was dancing around to the music coming through the PA system, including Rammstein’s “Du Hast.” While most of the crowd had probably never seen an Atari, there were others there who had probably seen the band in their heyday more than a decade ago. And I was surprised they were out after midnight on a Monday night. Heck, I was surprised that I was still awake, but I knew that ATR’s energetic electronic beats would keep me going.
The aural assault started the second the band stepped onstage. “Austin, Texas—Are you ready for the Atari Teenage Riiiooot?” screamed Endo. With that, the crowd up front at the stage started throwing their fists in the air and thrashing about as ATR opened with their newest single “Activate.”
I was transported back to my teenage years in the ’90s, where mosh pits and stage divers were a given at the concerts I attended. Although nowadays my music taste has not so much mellowed out as it has diversified, I had not been to a show like this in ages and I loved it!
It has been over ten years since ATR has toured, but they have not seemed to age a bit. The secret to looking young may just be a diet of noise and politicking. Alec Empire, Nic Endo, and CK KiDTRONiK were like the Powerpuff Girls’ doppelgangers on speed, jumping around and swinging from the stage throughout the whole show.
After playing the spirited “Midi-Junkies,” an ode to technology, Alec Empire, “The Motherfuckin’ Destroyer,” told the crowd that ATR played their first show with Endo in Austin during SXSW. He knows that the band’s message against the German government, especially in the song “Get Up While You Can,” resonated with a lot of people in the U.S. They proceeded to “start the riot” again with that very song.
“Speed” came next, the song that first introduced me to the new genre of digital hardcore and the band ATR. Good thing I wore protection (earplugs), because I think I had an eargasm that night being able to hear the songs that helped channel my rebellious teenage side that had deserted me some time ago. Listening to “Deutschland Has Got To Die,” “Sick to Death,” “Burn Berlin Burn” and “No Success” live brought me back to those definitive years.
The highlight of my night actually happened while waiting for ATR to set up. I saw a girl walk by who looked a lot like the half-Japanese, half-German Endo, but she was so small and so “normal” looking that I didn’t really think twice about it. Then, I saw the same girl walk back out onto the floor, but she had her face painted this time. This was definitely Endo, with the trademark Japanese characters that mean resistance.
She casually stopped to lean on the corner of the bar to smoke a cigarette. When I finally got up the guts to talk to her, I told her that I had interviewed Alec Empire a few weeks back and I had heard about her connection to Texas. She told me that she was born in Wichita Falls, but that she grew up in Germany, which must be true since she has no discernable Texas drawl. I then asked her for a quick photo and let her be. I was surprised, and disappointed, that no one else knew who she was; either that, or they just didn’t notice her.
After an hour-long set and a two-song encore from the German trio with a never-ending supply of rebellious energy, the time had come to sleep, and I could do so happily.
Atari Teenage Riot performed at Red 7 in Austin on Sept. 27.