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ATREYU, THESE FOUR WALLS, BAD/LOVE: The Brightside, Brisbane, 23/02/24

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Pix by Kaotic Images

Words by Lewd Scoff

*Apologies to These Four Walls who I arrived too late to catch*

I will admit I have only been a fan of Yorba Linda, California-based ‘pioneers’ of metalcore ATREYU since they changed their line-up in 2021. Before that, I always presumed, they were a MySpace scene band intent on screaming about girls.

Whilst they’re no AVENGED SEVENFOLD when it comes to musical diversity, having heard their discography since I am now aware of the lane they like to stick in regardless of its limitations. A little bit of everything without leaning too far into a specific subgenre or trope.

Tonight’s show at Brisbane’s Brightside Outdoor Stage is fitting under a near Virgo full moon.

Considering the band has been around for 30 years, we are blessed to have the opportunity to have an astrological prompt to reminisce about how much they have grown. The crowd is already body heavy (there is enough tattoo ink here to sink a battleship on the river Hades) for Australian support act BAD/LOVE who are doing a fine job increasing the PA’s warmth in preparation for the main act.

Tonight, they are showcasing songs off their twin EPs released in 2023 Mono No Aware parts 1 and 2, and other than some pitch concerns in the melodic parts for singer Landon Kirk the quartet is in sync and keen to get the congregation of pop/metal enthusiasts aligned with the trappings of being a metal audience.

Finally, ATREYU raise the suppositious curtain and the first song out the gate is Drowning, with front-man Brandon Saller making sure the crowd cranks the song’s signature millennial whoop to full effect. His stage presence eclipses all around him as the two-and-a-half-minute exercise in large congregational sing-along plays out.

Second song Becoming the Bull gives the band a chance to catch up to his occupancy of engagement as they all deliver to a crowd eating out of their hands. Hell, the band is so rabid we barely have time to breathe before they launch into The Right Side of the Bed, giving bassist/singer Marc ‘Porter’ McKnight the limelight as I witness live for the first time the switched dynamic in vocals since former frontman Alex Varkatzas left the band. Brandon winds the crowd up with some pro-Melbourne banter, which pisses the Brisbanites off enough to inspire a circle pit jam from the band.

Up next is Save Us and the crowd is providing solid backup vox in the chorus call and response. A solid entry from 2021’s Baptize album, which this reviewer gave a definite 10 out of 10.

Nothing but love for ATREYU so far.

When Two Are One has an Iron Maiden gallop, that is yet another reason for Brandon to call for a circle pit. It is also a setup for some tasty fretonics from guitarists Dan Jacobs and Travis Miguel. Especially in the orchestrated breakdown, which is gracefully accentuated by a crowd clap-along. It really is loud/soft heaven as the high vocal line proves difficult for Brandon, yet he recovers with an improvised alternative hook that delivers.

A fantastic rendition of (i) from the collection of songs assembled from last year’s EP called The Beautiful Dark of Life has ladies standing on the shoulders of men and drinkers holding up half glasses of alcohol in appreciation of the heavy banger.

Drummer Kyle Rosa is ejected from his throne next as Brandon takes us back to 2004 and his time behind the kit for Bleeding Mascara, and we get the closest we will to the former incarnation of Atreyu.

Drummers are a versatile bunch, as Kyle plays bass, so Porter can show off his frontman prowess. Also, good to hear more crazy guitar solos as the last 2 albums focus on groove and vocals, fitting perfectly into the current Soundcloud-inspired trend of short songs that seems to permeate all genres of music.

The Time Is Now gives us more crowd participation singing-wise and has a Brandon walking through the crowd engaging with his Brisbane Brethren. His ‘Brethbane,’ or ‘Bristhren’ as it were. He made it up to the back bar and got a shot of whiskey from one of the awesome bar staff, a true rock n roll moment in the back alleys of Fortitude Valley.

Ex’s and Oh’s is more old-school Atreyu and runs the gantlet of metal tropes executed perfectly. Clad in black leather and denim, this is the bands’ talent. Mixing classic metal with modern sonic stylings and keeping up with musical trends without being trite and cliché.

Gone returns us to the present and is as catchy as Heinekenvirus was in its heyday. Porter proves panache for perfectly placed phrases and gives proof that he is not just a ‘screamer.’ Even needed to comb his two-foot beard after the song, it was that impressive.

The band teases and then actually plays the first verse and chorus of LIMP BIZKIT’s Break Stuff as a bass void jam.

Somewhere, the guitarists find some low-end rumble (an octave pedal I’m presuming), as ATREYU smash through Battle Drums with twin vocal attack, mics in hand and an attitude that matches the previous covers sentiment. The melodic breakdown is led vocally by guitar slinger Dan Jacobs. This is a band of singers and they are all amazing.

The band gives an audience member a chance to pick a song out of a hat ‘lucky draw’ style to choose which new song they will play next, and they have drawn out Comedown, a personal favourite of mine. Great chorus and the whole band sings it beautifully in unison with the crowd.

Shame the synthesque bass line in the verse got lost in the mix.

The swing groove of Falling Down off the fantastically titled Lead Sails Paper Anchor album from 2007 (their most commercially successful album to date) springs to life next. The track gives off fantastic party vibes as Brandon splits the crowd in half to compete over who can give the loudest and most inspiring ‘hey’ and it looks like the left-hand side has it by a smidgeon.

Warrior is introduced via a ‘we’re all here together, and it’s ok to feel down sometimes style’ speech from Brandon, and by now the choruses to each song are starting to sound similar. My only gripe with the band.

Interpolating Wonderwall into the bridge section is so apt with a crowd of intoxicated Australians. If only local cover musicians could charge $90 entry per person. sic

Lots of yelling ‘fuck’ and throwing the middle finger leads to the song Blow, which has the audience in a frenzy due to the inclusion of cowbell. Obviously.

Heralding the end of the main part of the set and the beginning of the ‘one more song’ chant (which morphed into ‘3 more songs‘) before dissipating and the audience becoming kind of quiet until Dan Jacobs returns to the stage equipped with a tenor saxophone and brings the crowd in line with versions of Sexy Sax Man, Rick Roll and Tequila before the band surrounds him for Drambuie swigs, donuts, and Whitney Houston courtesy of an awesome cover of I Want to Dance with Somebody (Who Loves Me).

And that was it. A band adored by their fans came to town and entertained the crowd to maximum effect. Brandon Saller gives this band a unique sound with his vocal stylings (tone and penchant for descending scale melodies) and the songwriting skills coupled with the musicianship and singing skills of all players make ATREYU one of the best in the metalcore world. I cannot wait until they return to our shores again.

Truly an unforgettable experience that has left me listening to their entire discography now.

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