Last Friday, Atari Teenage Riot performed on the Club Stage at SONAR in Baltimore. It was their only DC-area concert and one of their first shows in the United States since 1999. The world has changed quite a bit since this digital-hardcore terror cell was originally active and their reformation and reactivation in 2010 is as random and surprising as their debut was so many years ago. Their Baltimore show was a chance to see what Alec Empire and his crew have in store for audiences in 2010 and an opportunity to answer the obvious question surrounding ATR’s return. Why reactivate now?
The performance Atari Teenage Riot delivered on Friday night was an inspired evening of sonic brutality that was less about breaking new musical ground or politics and more about celebrating ATR’s and Alec Empire’s legacy in music. It was a blistering ear assault that revisited ATR’s original 1990’s noise-campaign and showed that even after eleven years the music world has still not completely caught up to their intensity or creativity.