I remember the first time I heard At The Drive In. It was the song One Armed Scissor on a mix tape that my friend Liz made for me. The song hit me like a shovel to the face, and I thought Liz was the coolest so I was all in. Then I started hearing it at the mall, in Gadzooks when I was searching for the widest leg jeans I could find, or the widest my mom would let me wear. I was maybe 15.
I’m sure it was around that time that I bought Relationship of Command on CD, which I still have in my car along with a burned copy of In/Casino/Out that I must have inherited from a friend because I don’t recognize the handwriting.
I don’t recall At The Drive In breaking up. If they did officially break up it didn’t cause me the same despair as when the Blood Brothers broke up. That was a low point of my early 20’s. I eventually got some closure when I saw Jaguar Love perform and Johnny Whitney sold me a t-shirt. I wish the Blood Brothers would get on the “punk/post-punk/hardcore/post-hardcore bands reuniting for their aging fans” train.
All of the sudden The Mars Volta was a thing and was equally as intriguing to me as At the Drive In. I waited and waited for them to come to Pittsburgh but they never did. I do remember when the Mars Volta broke up, that was a bad day.
I’ve joked a lot about Cedric and Omar’s super egos. They’ve canceled tours due to their inability to see eye to eye and seem to constantly be broken up or on hiatus from one another. They’ve started myriad side projects individually, all of which are decent, but there is no denying that these two are a powerhouse when they’re together.
They’ve played handful of shows as At the Drive In since their reunion at Coachella in 2012. I had tickets to that Coachella and didn’t end up going. Couldn’t sell them. Story of my life. I figured ATDI would make this one grand appearance and be done. Well two appearances if you count that Coachella is now two weekends of the same exact thing, I will refrain from getting into my feelings about that.
At the end of 2016 ATDI announced a new album and a North American tour.I bought tickets to the Denver show the second they went on sale.
The new album in•ter a•li•a was hyped up but it was an anti-climactic release. I honestly thought it came out this Friday! I had no idea it had been out since May 5 until I found it yesterday. First listen, it sounds like someone held a gun to their heads and told them to write an At the Drive In album. That may be harsh. What I mean is that it sounds like them, but forced.
Still, I’m pumped to see them live. Seeing Cedric and Omar on stage together has to be like catching lightning in a bottle. My expectations are high.
This is either going to be an incredible show or the biggest let down since the last 3 times I saw Modest Mouse. I wish I was joking about that last part.
Let’s do this!
The above was written yesterday before the show and everything from here on out is new this morning. I may actually start referring to my life in terms of B.ATDI and A.ATDI.
I’m going to geek out on you a little bit here. This show was magical. Every instrumental and vocal complexity of their recorded work was executed flawlessly with some embellishments that kept you guessing. These guys make it look effortless.
They played a solid mix of old and new songs. I thought the newer songs fell flat at times, but realize it could also be in part due to lacking the nostalgia I feel for the older songs.
Their performance of Enfilade is going down as one of my all time favorite ever live music moments.
Early in the show, around the time they played Sleepwalk Capsules, we meandered our way in to the pit. It was a tame pit, but the energy up front was great. Everyone was smiling and singing. At one point I looked over and this shirtless guy had come out of the pit, walked straight up to Jim and gave him a bear hug that bordered on uncomfortably long. I mouthed “what the f- was that?!” with a huge smile on my face.
A couple of guys beside me mused that it was a “Baby pit” and that there were “Too many girls” as they stood there with their arms crossed. Uh yeah, guys, this isn’t a Comeback Kid show. Go have fun and BE NICE! Congrats, these two win biggest pricks of the night.
Napoleon Solo was another shining moment where everyone in the room was entranced. I didn’t keep close track of the setlist but they played a lot of Relationship of Command and in•ter a•li•a. They closed the show with One Armed Scissor. Of course.
The Fillmore was 3/4 full of fans hanging on every note that came out of Cedric’s mouth and from Omar’s guitar. I’ve seen videos of At the Drive In performing live and they don’t come close to capturing the energy that they bring to a room. Nor will my words here.
A final highlight was the moment I realized that I get to see them do it again at Riot Fest in September.