Allie Tollaksen | Sunday, March 24, 2013
On Saturday night, a small crowd gathered around the stage at Legends to watch pop-punk band The Ataris. The four-piece band wailed on their instruments, and drum and guitar-heavy music filled the room as front man Kris Noe belted out songs old and new.
The Ataris, originally from Ind., returned back to their home state to give an impressive show put on by talented musicians. Though I would not consider myself a pop-punk fan, I found myself nodding along to each song and was consistently impressed by the energy the group brought to the stage. It quickly became clear that this band was not new to touring. In fact, The Ataris has been around since 1995 and has become seasoned professionals in the tour circuit (they mentioned that they were leaving for their European tour the next day). Each member had an absolute mastery of their instrument, and I stood in amazement as drummer Erik Perkins talked and joked with the audience and his band members while playing some of the best drums I’ve ever seen live.
Similarly, Kris Noe impressed the audience with his vocals as well as his interaction with the crowd. He talked about each song, took requests and played both new music and old hits. Fans sang along to what is perhaps The Ataris biggest hit, a cover of Don Henley’s “The Boys of Summer.” Though the song was originally released in 1984 and covered by The Ataris in 2003, it felt fresh and was hands down my favorite moment of the show.
As previously mentioned, pop-punk music is not exactly my cup of tea, but I could not have been more impressed by The Ataris’ performance. However, what did not impress me was the turnout for the group. The Ataris have been writing music and touring for almost 20 years and somehow drew only a small, tame crowd. This wasn’t the first time I had gone to a small, intimate show at Legends, but it was the first time I felt truly disappointed by Notre Dame’s turnout. The energy the band brought to the stage was not even close to being matched by the audience, and I could not help but feel bad for the men on stage.
This throws into sharper relief a more general problem with on-campus shows and concerts. While not every group that comes to Notre Dame is high caliber, many of the groups that come are widely appreciated outside of the Notre Dame bubble as not only talented musicians but also solid performers. The apathy and indolence of many of the students on campus contributes not only to a disappointing turnout for the performers and the people who organize the show, but also ultimately speaks to a more pressing idea–the lack of appreciation for live music.
Hardworking musicians come to the University expecting to play to a venue full of enthusiastic college students, not a small group of the usual Legends attendees. While these groups are touring through major cities, performing at music festivals and selling out shows elsewhere, the Notre Dame community can’t seem to give artists their time even when offered a free show on their own campus.
The Ataris served as the perfect example of this kind of indifference towardslive music on this campus. Though they surprised my skeptical self with an upbeat and entertaining set, I couldn’t help but leave Legends frustrated and disappointed in the end. I wish The Ataris the best in their forthcoming tour and hope that someday that Notre Dame can meet the bands they invite with as much energy and enthusiasm that they bring to us.