I headed to Downtown LA to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Orange County’s Atreyu on November 19th at the Belasco Theater. It is a really cool historic venue where you are greeted by merch tables to your left as soon as you walk in. Tucked off in the right corner is the venue’s plush lounge and full bar to quench your thirst (with shot specials, too).
Once you enter the performance space, your eyes are immediately drawn to the stage directly in the front of the room. When the bands crank up to 11, just be careful you don’t fall down the sloped flooring! I absolutely love this feature, where everyone gets a great view of the stage. There is a full bar at the back of the room as well so you don’t have to miss any of the show when you need another drink.
I missed the first two bands of the night (the 80’s influenced Finnish band Santa Cruz and LA’s own Tempting Fate) so my first band was He Is Legend. I discovered this North Carolina band with their 2017 release “Few” and have really been sinking my teeth into their latest album “White Bat,” which came out this summer. Singer Schuylar Croom danced and crooned his way through the set along with the frenetic energy of his band mates Adam, Matty and Jesse. Although they didn’t play any songs off “Few,” they did start and end their set with tunes off of the new album. The show opened with the title track and closed with their latest single “Boogeywoman,” which is when the phones went up and everyone started recording. At the conclusion of the tune, Schuylar said “BYEEEEEEEEEEEE” as he waved to the crowd.
Next up was Knoxville, Tennesee’s Whitechapel. The band burst onto the stage and straight into “Forgiveness Is Weakness.” After four songs, singer Phil Bozeman greeted the crowd with “LA, how we feeling tonight?” Six of their nine-song set was from their latest release “The Valley” which was fine by me as that album is in my Top 5 of 2019. Two of the other tunes were from their 2015 release “The Brotherhood Of The Blade.” They closed out their set with two in a row from that album: “Our Endless War” and their anthem “The Saw Is The Law.” Before starting their sixth song, Phil told the crowd jokingly “Here’s a new song we wrote yesterday, hope you like it” and they jumped into “This Is Exile” from their second album of the same name. Everyone left the stage for a few minutes to catch their breath, then came back and slowly worked their way into their ballad “Hickory Creek.” The six-piece band was incredibly tight, but the singer was really the star of their set. Bozeman sang and growled flawlessly while cathartically baring his soul about his incredibly difficult childhood of enduring the death of both of his parents at a very young age.
After a brief set change, it was time for the fangs to come out with the headliner of the night: Atreyu. Before their set started, they blasted Whitney Houston’s “I Wanna Dance With Somebody” which the crowd laughed and sang along with until the lights went dark. Drummer Brandon Saller was the first to appear on stage behind his gold drum kit, which sat upon a riser with walkways on each side leading up to it. The rest of the guys joined him on stage and the clock started ticking. They launched into “The Time Is Now” from their latest album “In Our Wake.” No surprises in this set list as the band had their fans vote for the tunes they wanted to hear via social media. They pitted songs against each other tournament style until they got down to the final 20. When I interviewed the singer, Alex Varkatzas earlier in the month, he told me this is the longest set they have ever played.
The temperature in the room increased by at least 10 degrees when they started the second song “Right Side Of The Bed.” The crowd immediately cheered and sang along word for word, which was a common theme of the night. The same thing happened on the next song “Ain’t Love Grand.” At the conclusion of the tune, Varkatzas welcomed the crowd by saying “What the fuck is up LA?” and he thanked everyone for coming out to celebrate Atreyu rocking your world for the past 20 years. The pit perked up a bit for “My Fork In The Road (Your Knife In My Back).” Alex said “Let’s keep the circle pit going on” as they launched into “Our Sick Story (Thus Far).” After the eighth song “The Theft,” the band walked off stage for a moment. Varkatzas told the crowd “I wanna see your forks in the air” and they launched into “Bleeding Mascara.” Screams erupted from all the ladies in the crowd when they played “Falling Down.” Saller asked the crowd “LA, you in the mood for singing?” and he began an a cappella version of their intro tune Whitney Houston’s “I Wanna Dance With Somebody.” The crowd joined in and traded lines for a minute or two before bouncing into “Blow.” The mosh pit exploded! Saller later admitted to the crowd that “Untitled Finale” is still one of his favorite songs they have ever written and said “LA Let’s Go” before launching into the tune. Varkatzas thanked the crowd and said “I wanna say since year one and year twenty, it’s so awesome that you guys connected with our music and lyrics. Thank you for spending your time on Atreyu. Four words in a particular order: Live, Love, Burn, Die” They fired up their final song of the night: “Lipgloss in Black.”
All in all, an incredible 10 out of 10 show and I look forward to seeing you Atreyu again next year once they’re new album is out. You can hear Alex talk about their new album, producer and much much more by listening below and check out their own tour recap as well