Live (Sept. 2nd, 2010)
Starlite Room - Edmonton, Alberta
In my review for the 2010 Vans Warped Tour I mentioned how I felt old at the show. At 22, I’m older than the average Warped attendee now and it’s kind of a weird feeling. This was not the case last night as Strung Out made their way through Edmonton.
The crowd was older, mid to late twenties for the most part, and everyone was there for the sole purpose of seeing Strung Out and reliving the glory days of technically complex, fast, metal influenced, punk – it is, after all, sort of a niche market nowadays. Luckily for the loyal Strung Out fans, the band didn’t disappoint and the opening acts weren’t too shabby either.
Sadly, I got there later than anticipated and was only able to catch the final song of We Are The Union. This was unfortunate because their Paper + Plastick Records debut is pretty good and their ska-punk would’ve made for a solid set. Not to worry though, because Quebec’s Mute came on next and put on one of the best opening-acts I’ve seen in recent memory.
Pulling from a Strung Out influence, Mute embodied the technical punk spirit promoted by the likes of Belvedere, No Fun At All and early No Use For A Name. They were tight, fast, had a drummer as the lead singer and threw in a wicked bass solo that is still stuck in my mind nearly twenty-four hours later. This is a band that is ready to take over the Canadian skate-punk torch left by the demise of Calgary’sBelvedere.
Pop-punk act Rufio were up next fresh off a lengthy hiatus that saw them cancel their last appearance in Edmonton back in 2006. With a new album under their belts, Rufio had a burst of energy and while I personally thought they weren’t anything that special, their fans ate it up and sang every word. Hell, Jordan Burns of Strung Out even got involved and ran across the stage pretending to play a trumpet.
As the set change between Rufio and Strung Out dragged on, the excitement became palpable and exploded as the curtains were pulled open to reveal the Californian five piece. This was the first time I’ve seen them not wearing matching t-shirts and I don’t know what it was but front man Jason Cruz just seemed to be enjoying himself more than ever. In a stark contrast to their darker musical style, Cruz was joking around and appeared to be genuinely enjoying himself as he continually thanked the crowd for being there, high fived everyone and even stole a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles hat and proceeded to strike poses with it. Before that he grabbed a camera (that happened to belong to Chris Wedman as he was snapping photos for the site) and turned the lens on the crowd telling everyone to “work it.”
Just because Cruz was joking around doesn’t mean he wasn’t putting everything he had into the set. The whole band was as they played through a nearly twenty song set. The veins popped on Cruz’s head as he belted out the vocals, crouching down low to sing directly to the crowd. Guitarists Jake Riley and Rob Ramos walked back and forth, shredding wildly on tacks like Black Crosses, Angeldust and Velvet Alley. For their encore, they turned it down and Cruz came on with only an acoustic guitar to play Scarlet– transforming the song into something far from ordinary for Strung Out.
As the show came to an end at a little past one in the morning, the band jumped off stage and began talking to any fan who wanted to. It was a night that celebrated classic punk and saw a band truly enjoying themselves more so than any other time before.