Metalcore bliss in Reno: Atreyu’s 20 years and counting

Tahoe Onstage

Cargo Concert Hall music fans get an upclose view of Atreyu on Saturday, Nov. 16, in Reno.
Shaun Astor / Tahoe Onstage photos

“Reno! It’s been 20 years. Thank you,” said Alex Varkatzas, Atreyu’s lead singer at downtown Reno’s Cargo Concert Hall, appropriately on the band’s 20th Anniversary Tour. The packed room went crazy, as the musicians launched back into their set.

As such, Atreyu set out on this tour aiming to deliver a 20 song set list each night, consisting of songs chosen and voted on by fans. “Thank you for making our job a little easier,” Varkatzas joked about the song selection. And while early, well-known standards such as “Right Side of the Bed” and “Lip Gloss and Black” were included, the band graciously commented on votes to include newer songs like “House of Gold” from their recent “In Our Wake” album on the tour playlist.

Atreyu has always mixed elements defying genre into its live show, like taking the darkness of The Misfits, the spectacle and movement of Bon Jovi and the seethering angst and gravelly growls of early 2000s hardcore screamo. In Reno, this energy translated into crowd surfers riding atop outstretched arms and a room that sang along loudly when the band held mics up into the air.

Players made use of a single platform, that members climbed atop — front and center — for doom-sounding bass features, or guitarist Dan Jacobs’ blistering extended finger-picking solos. Drummer and vocalist Brandon Saller traded jokes with Varkatzas between songs, only whipping the ecstatic crowd into a louder frenzy that peaked when opening notes gave way to well-known songs.

Varkatzas’ presence, following a back injury recovery that forced him to sit out the group’s recent European tour, heightened a night where audience interaction only added to the band’s chemistry. Nearing the tail end of the tour, all the pieces seemed to fall tightly into place. With the early nightfall and Cargo’s club atmosphere giving the feeling of seeing Atreyu in a darkly intimate venue, a feeling that betrays the band’s stature, those walking out of the club following two hours of music had just witnessed a memorable performance.

Openers, Whitechapel played double kickdrum deathcore that would halt to a softened croon at a moment’s notice. At times melodic and overwhelming, the band made a nice complement to the lineup, with a refined playing style that established sonic foundations for the evening.

 — Shaun Astor

Whitechapel 

About Shaun Astor

Shaun Astor cites pop music singers and social deviants as being among his strongest influences. His vices include vegan baking, riding a bicycle unreasonable distances and fixating on places and ideas that make up the subject of the sentence, "But that’s impossible…" He splits his time between Reno and a hammock perched from ghost town building foundations. Check out his work at www.raisethestakeseditions.com

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