A pop punk revival with Meet Me @ the Altar

Victoria, Juarez and Campbell comprise Meet Me @ the Altar, which is currently touring for their debut album “Past // Present // Future.” The band has previously supported notable groups like Green Day, MUNA and jxdn, and have now hit the road on their very own headlining tour. // Photo by Sloan Salinas/Student Publications

On Apr. 1, Atlanta was thrown back into the early 2000s with the arrival of the pop punk band Meet Me @ the Altar at The Masquerade. Made up of drummer Ada Juarez, guitarist Téa Campbell and vocalist Edith Victoria, the all-girl trio group formed in 2015, and their music is heavily influenced by nostalgic emo/pop-punk sounds. 

In 2020, they were signed by the record label Fueled by Ramen which represents artists like Twenty One Pilots and Fall Out Boy among many others. 

As fans filed in, familiar favorites like Avril Lavigne’s “Girlfriend” and “7 Things” by Miley Cyrus blasted through the intimate venue, setting the mood for the rest of the night. There were two openers before the headliner and first up was Daisy Grenade. Like their name implies, the set was an explosion.

The bubblegum grunge duo, with lead vocalists Dani Nigro and Keaton Whittaker captivated the crowd simply with their presence and powerful vocals. Lights darkened and drums and electric guitar echoed through the venue as Daisy Grenade started with no warning, screaming, “What is up Atlanta! We are Daisy Grenade and this is ‘Cyanide!’” 

The song’s repeated phrase, “you know I like to riot,” resonated with the crowd, audience members jumping and crowd-surfing, showing just how much they like to riot. The next song was “Cult Classic,” which showcased the great chemistry between the duo and the audience; the singers started a call-and-response, telling the crowd to repeat the phrase “bite my tongue and fill my mouth with blood, I like the taste of everything you hate.”

After the screaming and grungy vocals that the duo specializes in, Daisy Grenade switched to a ballad, and the lights switched to a soft purple as a disco ball spread stars across the venue. The softer vibe matched the singing perfectly, and the duo was able to control tone and pitch to match harmonies both in ballads and screams. Daisy Grenade’s music and energy are a wonderful combination of glitter and broken glass, as the girls are unequivocally themselves and proud of the light and darkness within them. 

After Daisy Grenade’s set, intermission began to set up for the next opener, Young Culture. The group comprises Alex Magnan, Troy Burchett and Gabe Pietrafesa; their banner hung above the stage, and the kindergarten-esque graphics gave a hint of the fresh and bouncy set that was to come. The three-member rock band has a skater-boy-next-door look and a sound reminiscent of The 1975’s “Chocolate” era combined with The Maine.

The audience seemed to be familiar with the band, as straight from the jump, various people were singing along and jumping to the beat of the music. The lead vocalist, Magnan, mentioned that the group had previously played in the same venue to only five people and now are playing at a sold out show, saying, “this just goes to show what can happen.”

The young and fresh vibe of their set kept the audience’s cries amped and energy up, which goes to show that their name is fitting for the experience they bring to the audience. Once again, crowd-surfing was in the mix as various audience members were moved along safely. According to the band, Young Culture’s recent album, “You Had to Be There,” is meant to be full of songs that should be sung “in places like this with people we love and who want to get to know us.” Their set ended rather rambunctiously with the lead vocalist jumping back first into the crowd and being carried back to the stage, all while still singing. 

The final intermission began as the crowd anxiously waited for the headliner. Screams erupted as the banner from Young Culture was pulled down to reveal the Meet Me @ the Altar logo. There was a short wait with iconic songs like “Vroom Vroom” by Charli XCX blasted over the speakers, getting the crowd hyped. One by one, the members emerged with screams growing with each entrance. Juarez entered first and began setting up their drum set; Campbell came next, practiced a few chords and set up their multiple guitars before heading backstage again. 

The orange and purple lights illuminated the stage, and a heavy bass sound filled the venue, vibrating while an overhead announcement gave a warning for what to expect and asking the audience if they were ready. The trio emerged straight away, singing “Say It (To My Face).”

The crowd was alive, filled with the contagious energy of the group, as the band’s sound resonates heavily with the Atlanta alternative scene. You could see how much the city loves the group, especially since this is their lead singer’s hometown. They were greeted warmly in the proper fashion with screams, and of course, more crowd-surfing. 

As an April Fools’ joke, after two songs the trio got up and thanked the audience for coming, leaving as the lights shut off. After around 15 seconds, they came back laughing, and the lead singer said, “JK guys, don’t worry, there’s plenty more.” The lead vocalist, Victoria, is immediately recognizable for her braids and hairstyles; for this tour, her hair was bright green and glowed in the dark with a green microphone to match. 

During a break, Victoria took the opportunity to talk to the audience. “When people ask me what I do … I’m not only in a band but an all-girl band, not only because I love women but we’re also the best, and my opinion is right,” Victoria said. She then introduced the next song called “Hit Like a Girl” and told the crowd to open up the pit “for just girlies and theydies.” It was a wild affair with the audience splitting open, creating a circle with people running around and bumping into each other in the center. Opening the mosh pit is a common practice in concerts, especially for alternative and rap shows, and it allows concertgoers to expel pent up energy that matches the music. Once the pit closed back up, Victoria said that with every show, the group likes to compare girl pits versus regular pits. “It’s funny ‘cause girl pits are so polite,” she said. 

The next song was “T.M.I,” which has sad lyrics but great energy, translating into sad rage. Victoria said that when they played that song in Chicago, everyone already knew the song even though it was just released. “Y’all hate yourself a lot,” Victoria joked, and the crowd cheered and yelled, “sad gang.”

The trio had a moment to showcase their talents and their favorite songs, starting with Victoria. The singer said her favorite vocalist is Alanis Morissette and transitioned into a short cover of “You Oughta Know” in her own style. The sequence continued with the drummer, Juarez, up next, and she said her favorite song is Avril Lavigne’s “Complicated.” Finally, guitarist Campbell said that her favorite song is “Take Me Away” from the movie “Freaky Friday.” This song was a fan favorite as Lindsey Lohan’s character serves as a fashion icon for many people who are into the grunge and alternative scene. 

Throughout the show, Victoria would periodically ask if the crowd was okay. Through a quick story time, the audience learned that when she was 14, she went to her first show at the Tabernacle. Suddenly, she found herself in the pit and thought she almost died, so she likes to check in on the audience a lot. That being said, the next song, “May the Odds Be in Your Favor,” riled the crowd up, with multiple pits being made and five people crowd-surfing at the same time. The lyric, “Don’t cross the line,” from the song matched the environment as everyone was safely going against the status quo and raging with the music. 

The band wanted to give the crowd and themselves a bit of a breather after going so hard, so they went for just vocals, acoustic guitar and simple hand drumming. This, once again, showcases the diversity of the band’s talents and how flexible and comfortable they are in different styles and levels of production. Overall, it was a memorable night filled with storytimes, jokes, good vibes and, of course, great music. With pop punk gaining relevance again, it is great to see a new generation of musicians creating nostalgic sounds with their own unique twists; there is a great future ahead for Meet Me @ the Altar.