Live (April 29th, 2011)
Starlite Room - Edmonton, Alberta
On Friday night, the Starlite Room was a time machine – transporting the aging crowd back in time to a glorious moment of mid-nineties punk rock as Face To Face and Strung Out took the stage in a co-headlining show reminiscent of the hey-days of the skate-punk movement.
Toronto’s The Artist Life, the youngsters of the tour, kicked off the evening and sounded pretty good as the sound seeped through the walls into the line-up of people waiting at the doors (myself included) but being unable to get in time makes it difficult to say much else. The Darlings, however, were another story. For an opening band, they had the crowd eating out of their hands. Oh yes, they sounded fantastic – another nod to the skate-punk styles that made Epitaph the monster that they are today – but that was only the start as their stage presence made them truly powerful. They were funny, in your face and confident, controlling the momentum with a poise and grace many headlining acts fail to grasp and even pulled Jason Cruz up for a Misfits cover; the night couldn’t have asked for a better opening act.
Cruz made his second appearance of the night shortly after as Strung Out took the stage and ripped through their fifteen song set list. While not quite as memorable as the last time they took the stage at Starlite Room in September, the Simi Valley punk band still had it in them as they played through their technical, metal influenced punk and got the crowd singing along to songs like Firecracker, Blueprint of the Fall, Velvet Alley, Wrong Side Of The Tracks, Black Crosses and more. Cruz vocals were strong but sometimes got lost in the mix, falling below the blistering solos of Jake Kiley and Rob Ramos. Of course, half the fun of any Strung Out set is watching prolific drummer Jordan Burns tear the skins up and Friday was no exception.
The band left the stage, drenched in sweat, as the crowd chanted for more. Strung Out may not have returned, but their punk brethren in Face To Face took the stage and turned the night’s events into a truly nostalgia soaked messed.
Yes, they played a few new cuts from their upcoming Laugh Now, Laugh Later album (Should Anything Go Wrong and It’s Not All About You both sounded fantastic) but most of their set focused on older stuff as tracks such as Walk The Walk, Disconnected, You’ve Done Nothing, Ordinary, Complicated littered the set; and despite pushing forty, the band didn’t miss a beat. In fact, they relished in it, joking about their age and the aging crowd itself and promising to keep playing until their seventies if the fans keep showing up.
As a whole, the evening was a night of nostalgia; and, like a good wine, Face To Face have gotten better with age (or maybe worse, I never saw them back in 1996). Either way, the night was a success despite the added restrictions (no re-entry? come on now) and heightened security. If only more of today’s bands carried a show like this.