Words & Photos by Greg Jacobs
Ladies and Gentlemen, this is your captain speaking, please let me be the first person to welcome you to Spokane, WA where the weather is a warm 85 degrees with slight winds out of the north at 2 miles per hour and the air quality is SMOKY.
We stepped off the plane in Spokane into a smoky haze that smelled like a campfire. The horizon was covered in a blanket of smoke that, when the sun was allowed to poke through, appeared to be a blurry red ball in the sky. Fires to the North of Spokane in Western Canada and fires to the East in Glacier National Park fed the smoky atmosphere no matter which way the wind was blowing …
We landed in Spokane about the same time The Ataris arrived at the Big Dipper to load-in for their sound check. When we arrived at the show later that evening, we found out from a friend that during load in, the signer Kristopher Roe had an asthma attack and went to the emergency room (check out the band’s Facebook post from 8/22/2018 for more info and pictures). And I learned that the venue was not aware of this, nor was the crowd.
Being from the land of jaded gig-goers (yes, absolutely, myself included), I assumed the shit would hit the fan when people got the word that the singer wasn’t there. I assumed people would be pissed off and demanding their money back, possibly worse … But what happened was an amazing display of support and community that haven’t witnessed anywhere before.
I missed the first band due to some unforeseen transportation issues (I didn’t have my own ride).
Sid Broderius and the Emergency Exit were in the middle slot tonight. Hometown, ska-punk heroes with a new record on No Affiliation Records (released Aug 10, 2018) and a California tour booked for September, set the table perfectly for The Ataris. The band was loose and raucous on stage with the crowd singing along. This is the way punk rock is supposed to be, loud, fun and beer-fueled (even with a sober singer) …
They were the perfect warm-up for the headliner (headless-headliner?) …
I don’t know if Sid was told not to say anything or if he took it upon himself to keep quiet about Kristopher Roe not being in the house, but there was no mention of it from stage … Three-quarters of The Ataris took the stage and made the first official announcement that Kris was not able to play tonight, that the drummer Brandon would handle the vocal duties while reading the lyrics from his ipod propped up next to the snare drum. Brandon also invited anyone in the crowd to fill the vacant leader singer spot and sing along with any songs they might know … Karaoke with The Ataris.
Instead of being upset by this news, the Spokane crowd thrived on it. The available Ataris were busting their asses to put on the best show they could as Brandon was acting as the ringleader, vocalist, drummer and conductor … The crowd supported each other like no other scene would have. Various audience members took their turn singing, some checking their iPhones for the lyrics while others obviously knew them … each leaving the stage to a thunderous round of applause, smiles and high-fives.
The Ataris finished the night with their cover of Don Henley’s “The Boys of Summer” which filled the stage with most of the remaining crowd (singers and non) solidifying a spot in my heart for the band and especially for the Spokane music scene … Sing it with me: “Out on the road today, I saw a Black Flag Sticker on a Cadillac!!!”
I’ve still never seen The Ataris, but I will … someday. Cheers Spokane!