Live Review: Ataris, Hawthorne Heights, Handguns, Mest & Foreveratlast in Indy

Album anniversary tours are all the rage right now, giving fans a chance to head out to a show and revel in nostalgia for an hour. The Three Headed Monstour stands out in this crowded field though, as it gives fans an entire bill of nostalgia, as MEST and The Ataris joined Hawthorne Heights (who performed sophomore album If Only You Were Lonely in full at each tour stop) and took fans back to the early 2000’s when pop-punk reigned.

Local Indianapolis band Foreveratlast kicked the night off with a riveting performance that featured hits such as “Mr. Whitecoat,” “Shorelines,” and the infectious “Bad Blood.”

Since signing with Victory Records just over a year ago the band has been making major waves in the scene and were even featured as one of AP Magazine’s “100 Bands You Need To Know” in 2015. Their set kicking off the night only served to confirm what those following them have known for years: ForeverAtLast is primed and ready to take over the scene.

The inclusion of Pennsylvania-based pop punk band Handguns was an interesting choice. The group didn’t form until 2008, well after the time period this tour was celebrating, but stylistically there was something in their sound and energy that was reminiscent of the whole Drive Thru Records/Warped Tour vibe.

Vocalist Taylor Eby is a beast on stage. Eby’s face often turned beet-red and his jugular vein protruded quite clearly as he stomped across the stage. The energy in the band’s sound and performance in general was exceptional- there’s a very clear hunger there that’s not often seen in bands approaching their 10-year mark.

After a brief set change it was finally time for one of the “three heads” to take the stage. For Indy’s show Hawthorne Heights took the first slot and got right to work making their way through If Only You Were Lonely. Midway through “We Are So Last Year” the lights went down and band continued playing in darkness (the fact that the entire band was dressed in head-to-toe white came in handy here!)  By the time the bridge hit it became clear the lights weren’t coming back any time soon, and the band wasn’t going to stop, so fans leapt into action and used the flashlight feature on their smartphones to illuminate the band.

It was a bit difficult to read lead vocalist JT Woodruff’s reaction to the lighting failure as he joked “is this somebody trying to be artistic or something?” with perhaps more than a hint of annoyance in his voice. Although he may have been flustered by the problems Woodruff and the rest of the band made numerous comments about how awesome it was that fans lit up the room. And they were right; what started as a problem ended up creating one of the most memorable moments of the show.

The band made their way through their sophomore album and expressed a great deal of gratitude over the opportunity to perform, especially after some of the lesser-known tracks.

After wrapping up the album set with the ballad “Decembers,” the band moved on to new material (“Hurt”) and hit singles such as “Niki FM” and their chart-topping “Ohio Is For Lovers,” which found Woodruff standing on the barricade throughout the song’s entirety, singing as one with the crowd.

After such a phenomenal ending to Hawthorne Heights’ set MEST certainly had their work cut out for them, but the band proved they were more than up for the challenge.

The first thing to jump out as the band took the stage was that this was a very different looking MEST than the one I was accustomed to. With all of the original band members holding down day jobs for the previous decade Lovato was the only member able to make it to the Indy date, so the guys from his new project London Falling (also in the tour package, although they didn’t perform in Indy) hopped right in and really managed to carry the show quite well.

The London Falling members looked young enough to have been in elementary school during MEST’s heyday, which is hard to fathom, but their musicianship and stage presence proved to be a perfect fit.

Just before heading into their third song, “2000 Miles,” Lovato ditched his guitar, freeing him up to move around the stage throughout the song. Midway through the song Lovato leapt off the stage and crowd surfed to the middle of the room before being tugged back and hoisted up to the stage.

Overall, MEST’s set felt incredibly balanced, with bigger hits spread evenly throughout the set instead of being packed in at the very beginning or end. The set ended with the classic summertime fun song, “Cadillac,” minus the beloved turntable scratches, unfortunately. As the crew started working switching out gear Tony made his way to the side of the stage and greeted fans along the barricade, spending a surprising amount of time talking with fans, taking selfies, and even signing one fan’s tattoo of the character in the MEST logo.

At long last the final act of the night, The Ataris, hit the stage. This was a special show for the band, as the band originally formed in Anderson, Indiana in 1995. The Ataris performance felt a bit Inception-like in some ways. From the beginning the band released material that revolved around nostalgia, and now, in 2016, fans get to enjoy the nostalgia while enjoying performances of nostalgia-inspired songs. Obviously, being in Roe’s original home state, this feeling was only amplified.

The band played a set littered with hits such as “In This Diary,” “So Long Astoria,” and yes, the cover that rocketed them to fame, “Boys of Summer.” With such a strong tour package it’s only natural that members of the crowd wouldn’t know or enjoy every band- there are 3 bands that could each draw a decent crowd on their own. Given the fact that there were 3 headline-worthy bands on this tour it was obvious that some of the fans were die-hard fans of a single band, while others seemed to be casual fans of all the of groups. When The Ataris started in to their George Henley cover the entire crowd responded. It’s almost safe to say that every person in that room knew the chorus of that song (and the vast majority were clearly excited to belt it out along with the band.)

This was a perfect ending to a whirlwind of a night. There was so much going on in a relatively short period of time, but getting to enjoy some of your favorite bands of your youth singing “Ohio is for Lovers,” “Cadillac,” and “Boys of Summer” provided fans with a handful of crystalized moments where the rest of the world fell away and they were taken back to those summer days spent listening to pop-punk in high school. What more could you ask for?

Unfortunately the US tour is headed into its final week, but good news for fans around the world: the Three Headed Monstour recently announced a world tour with dates in Southeast Asia, Australia, and Europe.

-Ashley Adcox

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