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Review: The Ataris bring pop-punk hits to the Brass Mug in Tampa




A small crowd can be a good one, and sometimes a weeknight show is as good a time as a Friday or Saturday night concert -- even if it's a little more subdued.

The Ataris’ Tuedsday night appearance at the Brass Mug was one of those nights.

Around a hundred-plus people in their 20s and 30s (plus a few younger and older) -- some tatted up, some kind of on the hipster-preppy side -- skipped watching Lost to see a once-chart-topping pop-punk band headline Tampa’s most notorious punk 'n’ metal dive bar.

Promoters relocated the concert from the originally scheduled Orpheum, a bigger and more official-like venue -- a move that irked some and incited gripes on Facebook. Not knowing what to expect, the band approached the stage with noticeable reticence.

The Mug, incidentally, gets a bad rap. It’s actually prestigious in its own right, considering the caliber of bands that played their before they were famous (Green Day, No Doubt, etc.) So, yeah, no beer bottles were thrown. Although a head-scratching mosh pit disrupted the floor midway through the set. No show is idiot-proof.

Once started, the Ataris' nervous energy dissipated and turned into an upbeat one -- even in the face of some technical mishaps, such as busted snare drum. Lead singer Kris Roe expressed gratitude and said he was pleasantly surprised by the enthusiastic audience. He also thanked what he called one of the best supporting lineups of the tour: Johnny Unite Us, The End of April, Springfield Cubs and Orlando’s Gasoline Heart.

The Indiana quartet performed hit In This Diary plus other tunes from its mainstream-breaking album So Long, Astoria (2003). They were earnest, tight and brimming with wall-of-sound effects on their guitars.

At some points, members of the audience murmered, wondering if the band would play the Ataris’ better-known hit (to the band’s dismay), their cover of Don Henley’s Boys of Summer, but they discarded that trotted-out chestnut in favor of tunes by lesser-known superbands -- Jawbreaker and the Replacements.

Image- and demeanor-wise, the down-to-earth dudes displayed a contrast to the product-laden hairdos and black eyeliner-wearing performers in their genre. The guys looked like dudes you’d work with in an IT department -- bearded, bespectacled, clean cut. They were gracious, self-effacing and had a great rapport throughout.

Roe was right about the opener: solid bill all-around. Springfield Cubs offered up a strong, tight and timeless sound that could be chalked up to a mix of classic punk anthems and Cheap Trick-influenced power pop. Gasoline Heart, a one man show by Louis DeFabrizio, delivered humorous asides and intense vocals. He proclaimed his punk rock cred by covering the Dead Boys, followed by a ditty by Tom Petty, between tunes from his cleverly titled album, Nostalgia Ain’t What It Used to Be.

About midway through Gasoline Heart’s short set, DeFabrizio got minimal assistance on percussion and shouted afterward, “F--- you, White Stripes, you got cymbals! We only got a kick drum.”

-- Julie Garisto, tbt*

[Last modified: Wednesday, July 28, 2010 3:18pm]


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