Date: September 17th, 2010
Opening Acts: Mute, We Are The Union, Ruffio
Band Link: www.strungout.com
Strung Out has mixed the technical riff structure and attitude of metal with the more fast paced melodic aspects of punk rock to create a sound very much uniquely their own. Being a huge fan of both punk and metal, I have been a fan for a while and when I found out they were playing NYC, had no intentions of missing the show.
This is the first time I’ve been to Gramercy Theater and on first impression it is an attractive venue with good clear view of the stage, not too big or too small allowing for enough space while still remaining intimate. Being an old man, I took a seat with a good view next to the sound board. They took the stage right after I sat down and hammered right in with Black Crosses from the latest release ‘Agents of the Underground’. They were spot on and solid! I truly wish I could say the same for the mix, however, I can’t. The Gramercy had problems with the mix all night and it spoiled the show a bit at first as the band did a great job and deserved the proper stage to showcase their efforts. The guitars were audible but drowned out by the vocals and drums causing you to miss the impact of the melodies that drive the songs. Thankfully, they didn’t miss a beat and put on a show that allowed you to disregard the poor engineering behind the board. So let’s get back to that!
They did a good mix of older songs with newer songs and kept the banter to an almost nonexistent minimum by burning through the setlist at an enjoyable pace. It reminded me of seeing older punk
shows where they are trying to keep the crowd going non-stop, excluding NOFX that are 60% banter, 40% music, and still one of the best live shows. Ultimate Devotion and Solitaire were good, but Vanity is the moment they clicked with the crowd and each other it seemed as the harmony was there and the crowd was fully committed. This is also when I noticed that we were four songs in and not a single “ninja” in the pit! Always makes me happy to see a lack of new-age hardcore and metalcore kids that have no clue what a pit is. Time and place kids, save it for Job for a Cowboy, Trivium (sorry Heafy) and others. During Cult of the Subteranian, a rather large fellow decided to crowd surf and gravity decided that maybe he shouldn’t and introduced him to the ground by way of face plant which only enriched the song in my eyes.
They then went into Carcrashradio, which on the album I’m not really a fan of and tend to skip, but it definitely was more enjoyable then I expected. Next up was Everyday and Mission Statement flowing nicely into Angeldust which they blew out of the water! This was around the time they finally got the vocal levels balanced a little better and it couldn’t have come at a better time. From the moment they rang the first note the crowd erupted and it definitely seemed to motivate them too cause they got the energy flowing even more on stage and gave to the crowd as they took all the crowd had to offer as well. As the song ended, I noticed a gentleman being seated in front of me with short motions, then I noticed his cane, and then that he was blind! While awesome, it certainly confused the shit out of me as out of the many shows I have been to, I have never seen a blind dude outside of orchestra’s or more mellow settings that don’t rely much on visuals. Sadly, I completely missed the song after Angeldust thanks to this older, yet awesome gentleman.
Once I got my bearings back, they were already into Dig, which they played a bit faster and Cruz seemed to give a bit more into. That may be why Velvet Alley and The Misanthropic Principle were both kind of lackluster and he announced they would play 3 more songs, of which they most certainly played more. Diver was one of the better songs they played and personally I think would have been a better closer than Matchbook.
Once they walked off stage the crowd began chanting “one more song”, and this was obliged when they sat a single stool and Cruz came out with an acoustic. He did an absolutely amazing job with Scarlet, a Patsy Cline cover from Exile in Oblivion. Honestly the absolute best moment of the concert to me and it kind of spoiled the album version for me as the acoustic really suited the song perfectly. I hope that there is a split like the Joey Cape/Tony Sly split with Jason Cruz. From here he brought out a member of their entourage who sang a Misfits Cover of Astro Zombies with Cruz still playing the acoustic. Halfway through, the rest of the band joined in. While it was fun and the guy did a great job singing, it wasn’t great. Maybe due to me not being a very big Misfits fan, who knows. After that they broke into Analog at a sped up tempo and closed strongly with Betrayal.
Strung Out put on a really strong show that not only assured me seeing them again, but also attracted a great crowd of true fans of the music. I was very surprised to see the vast majority of the crowd singing along to just about every song, not just the newer ones. To me, that is a perfect match for memorable shows and Strung Out put on a performance I won’t soon forget.