The Rock, Friday, Feb. 11

After making a name for themselves on the second stage of last summer's Ozzfest, Orange County's Atreyu continued their dominance Friday night at The Rock.

At the sold-out show, Atreyu shredded through its 50-minute set that was both hot and violent, as well as respectful to its fans and the venue itself.

"Tucson, lets fuckin' move around," commanded frontman Alex Varkatzas as Atreyu erupted into its opener, "Bleeding Mascara." Not needing any direction from the band, the youthful crowd began slam-dancing before the opening chords were ever played.

The crowd's energy carried into the next song, "A Song for the Optimist," as bodies were being thrown onto and off the stage. When Varkatzas would pause to let the crowd sing, they attempted to pull him onto the floor.

Impressed with the mayhem, Varkatzas stated he wanted to see an ocean of a pit during the next song, while the group tossed out bottled water to the sweaty crowd. As Atreyu ripped into "Ain't Love Grand," the circle-pit spread to the perimeters of the venue, making life for security a real joy.

During "You Eclipsed by Me," the crowd's antics took a serious turn. Midway through the song, bassist Marc McKnight dropped his ax, looked into the crowd and motioned for help. With the help of security, McKnight pulled a youngster out of the pit who had apparently passed out. The band abruptly ended the song once they discovered what was going on.

"We don't want anyone to get hurt at one of our shows," Varkatzas said. "That shit is not cool, and it makes us feel bad. We all need to respect this club, each other. Don't worry; we will be back, we're always on tour."

That said, Atreyu went into its final song of the evening, "Lip Gloss and Black," with the help of openers and labelmates Scars of Tomorrow.

Many bands talk about the importance of crowd safety, but Atreyu was one of the few who actually demonstrated concern for those in attendance. Who knew people from Orange County can be both hardcore and polite?

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