The old Hollywood Palladium was ripped a new one this past Wednesday night, kicking off night one of two back-to-back At The Drive-In performances. For many fans, this was the first time they had ever seen the band live. The group broke up in 2001, a year after the release of their third studio album, Relationship Of Command. Reuniting in 2012 to perform at Coachella, the post hardcore stalwarts quickly went back off the grid after their mega festival gig. It wasn’t until March 23 where At The Drive-In would form again. The band played a benefit gig at the Fonda Theatre in Hollywood. About two months later, after some touring in Europe and the UK, At The Drive-In made their way back to Los Angeles to play the iconic Hollywood Palladium; a venue which frontman Cedric Bixler-Zavala shared was a special venue to him during his youth, and to many fans standing on the Palladium floor waiting to see an explosion of sound.
With the original lineup present — sans guitarist Jim Ward, who was replaced this year by Sparta’s Keeley Davis — At The Drive-In hit the ground running. Literally. As the intro to “Arcarsenal” made its trippy way through the room, one-by-one, members of the band made their prolific entrance before pummeling all of our senses with the chilling ferocity of “Arcarsenal.” Instantly, fists pumped through the air, and legs quickly followed as die-hard fans chanted the lyrics. At one point, the dudes next to me, embraced each other in a bro hug as one yelled over the music, “Is this really happening?! Is this really happening right now?! Fuck!!!!!” The excitement was thick, and the energy throughout the venue was full of joy and amazement.
As our photographer Ben Irwin mentioned later mentioned on his Facebook page, “Last night I got a chance to shoot At The Drive-In. In other news 15 yr old me just high-fived 30 yr old me hard enough to cause a rip in the fabric of time.” I think that feeling was mutual for at least 80 percent of the people in attendance. The thrill of seeing a band live after 15+ years of listening to their albums, noting them as an influence to much of your own music, was a surreal experience for many people at the Palladium Wednesday night. It wasn’t just fans reveling in nostalgia, it was also fans who have now started their own bands because of At The Drive-In. Amidst the gloriously violent bursts of sounds and soaring yells, there was a lot of love in the room that night.
At The Drive-In excited fans endlessly ripping through songs such as
“Invalid Litter Dept.”, “300mhz”, “Napoleon Solo” and many more nostalgic classics. Fans sang along or just watched in amazement. Many of the young (and a few older folks) took their try at crowd surfing. It seemed as though there was always someone with feet in the air during At The Drive-In’s performance.
There was a point in my life where I always listened to At The Drive-In and was able to recite lyrics like a champ. I was 20 years old then, and now I’m 36. I found myself at a loss for words, and not just because I was in awe of the greatness happening on stage, but I straight up forgot the words! I imagine the band, after so many years, must have the same problem. It’s like when you know something so well for so long, when you have to really stop and think about it, you kind of forget. For example, your phone number. You ever forget that shit when someone asks you for it? Happens to me all the time. The same thing can happen with reunion shows. I found it charming to know that the band had snippets of lyrics and mental reminders taped across the stage floor.
The band put on blissful performance. Omar Rodríguez-López was a god on stage. With style and skill, he worked that guitar like a madman, penetrating sick chords into our ears. Frontman, Cedric Bixler was a swarming fireball of energy. Dude jumped around the stage while perfectly hitting each lyric and note. At times he would whip that mic chord around, or gnaw on it like a wild animal. His stage presence was infectious and only hyped the crowd more. Paul Hinojos, Tony Hajjar
and Keeley Davis also put in some serious carnage, making for an all-around powerful sound.
My husband had never seen At The Drive-In live, let alone listen to much of their music. The only time he had heard them was when I played it at at our house or during one of our BBQs. It was rad to see just how much he enjoyed their performance. He was fully captivated and in awe of the band’s surreal stage performance, and the effect that it had on the crowd. He couldn’t remember the last time he had been at a show where he could so easily see and feel the energy in the room. It was truly unmatched. This, all coming from someone who directs live concerts for broadcast/stream for a living.
Without a doubt, At The Drive-In mesmerized everyone at the Hollywood Palladium. Their performance was wild, but clean. They proved to still be the humble masters of the post-hardcore genre. Their live music alone is proof, but the effect they have on fans (both new and old) is something not every act can achieve.
At The Drive-In closed with their famed song “One Armed Scissor.” As we all picked up our jaws from the floor — shining with glee — a wish had been fulfilled. We are now able to say, “I saw At The Drive-In” live. And for others (including myself), this isn’t my first rodeo, but I’m thrilled to have relived the experience. It’s no longer a distant memory, but a new one that won’t soon be forgotten.
Opening for At The Drive-In was Grimy Goods favorite, Le Butcherettes. Led by one of our favorite front-humans, Teri Gender Bender showed new fans what the fuck was up. Similar to Iggy Pop, Savages’ Jehnny Beth, and Peaches, Teri has quite the animated presence. Her signature creepy stares and possessed-like convulsing only add to the band’s already striking sound. Not to mention, the woman has some guitar chops and gorgeous vocals to match. Engaging fans from start-to-finish, there is a reason why we are always up for catching a Le Butcherettes show. Like an old mine cut diamond, no Le Butcherettes show is ever the same. Each time we see this band live, it’s a new experience. There’s not many bands out there that can create the same live concert experience, and it’s what keeps us coming back for more.
Check out our photos below of At The Drive-In with Le Butcherettes and the Hollywood Palladium.
Words: Sandra Burciaga-Olinger
Photography: Ben Irwin
At The Drive-In
MORE PHOTOS BELOW!