sat 24/03/2018

Atari Teenage Riot, O2 Islington Academy | reviews, news & interviews

Atari Teenage Riot, O2 Islington Academy

Atari Teenage Riot, O2 Islington Academy

Reformed Berlin techno-punks bring the noise

Atari Teenage Riot's glowering demagogue, Alec Empire

The last time I saw Atari Teenage Riot play was in a gig venue above a pub some time around 1999 and it was one of the most intense gigs I've ever experienced. Then-member Carl Crack – who would take his own life not long after – was clearly a man on the edge, and the entire group were acting wired, scared and weird. They made the most stupendous racket, and the well-over-capacity audience reacted by leaping about so violently that the building needed structural repairs afterwards. To be part of that seething crowd required commitment, passion and complete obliteration of ego – it was easy to see the power of the cult around ATR's leader, Alec Empire.

The band were playing a purpose-built music venue sponsored by a multinational mobile-phone conglomerate

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Sums it up pretty perfectly. I watched most of the show through a field of smartphone screens - Is This Hyperreal, indeed - watching the people next to me taking photos of each other, then scan the results over and over. Somehow, the danger had gone...

i bet they had earplugs in

A good few of the audience certainly had earplugs in, the massive big girls' blouses.

Given the constraints of the O2 (which is a lousy gig venue), I thought it was a great gig. I leapt around in the pit for an hour or so, got filled with revoloutionary zeal and left on a massive high. What's not to like? Comparing an ATR gig from 1999 to a gig in 2011 is interesting, not least because i) so many of our venues have been corporatised, ii) the way people both experience music (and the world) and seem occupied with evidencing it (via social media) is so dominant and iii) 2011 is even more a consumer society than 1999, and that was pretty bad. Personally I think that despite all this, the fact that ATR played well, and the cross section of people who came to listen was broad, gave me a bit more faith in people. After all, the revoloution is only a t-shirt away.

I think it's pretty disgusting how Joe Muggs compares the 1998 show to the new London show. Back then everybody was aware of the fact that my friend Carl Crack was under heavy medication and was very unwell (which two years later lead to his death). If you were somehow fascinated by that, and those days were not the norm back then, you should go to see Libertines or other bands where people stand there and watch fucked up musicians. The younger audience takes photos, films the show to then share it with their friends online. We think that's better than people starring at drugged up musicians who clearly have a bad time. Carl played those shows because he didn't want to let the fans down. At the 1998 he could barely move , and most fans who knew him as the high energy MC he was, were shocked and sad to see him like that. ATR basically play all types of shows. The 3 UK dates couldn't sum it up better: O2 Academy (well London is not Berlin, great sound though!), The Fleece in Bristol (amazing people! I wish there was a club like this in Berlin! ) and then Bang Face (probably the only rave in the world which has that independent rave spirit AND has a sense of humor about it). ATR has always played all kinds of shows. Big raves, small squats, rock festivals, TV appearances etc etc... You could very well compare that depressing Brighton gig with any of the euphoric Brazil a few months early in 1998, and it would make not much sense to you.... it's perfectly ok to not like the last London show, but you try to suggest ATR has gone commercial, or Dim Mak has anything to do with that... which is clearly not well thought through... Atari Teenage Riot's message has always been a positive one: If you disagree with the society, change it! Take action. and that message must be spread everywhere....

Thankyou for taking the time to comment, Alec, but you misinterpret my opinion of both the earlier and the recent show. I just report my experiences. I was not in Brazil, but I was in Brighton, and I describe what I saw there. And I do not suggest that the band or its members being in a bad way is what made the Brighton show good. It was good DESPITE adversity, and as I say showed true commitment from the audience. Funny you mention the Libertines as I have written several times in the past about how appalling the cult of fucked-upness that surrounds Pete Doherty is. Whereas the recent London show's crowd notably lacked that passion from where I was standing. Sure those down the front were throwing energy back to the stage (although it felt a very controlled kind of energy in comparison to previous DHR experiences - also, I'm not sure how much positivity the person who stole my friend's phone in front of hundreds of people was expressing), but much of the rest of the crowd consisted of indie scenesters, drug bores and general poseurs... as the first commenter on this article confirms, many were more interested in filming and otherwise interacting with their phones than in being present in the room. I have heard great reports from the Bristol show, and am glad you felt that the rest of the tour was better, but reading between the lines it seems that you do share some misgivings about the London date. The Islington O2 is a terrible venue, so maybe that is the problem - but there are so many with better soundsystems and better layouts in London. I look forward to seeing ATR somewhere better and hope to eat my words when I do.

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