Strung Out and The Ataris at Nile Theater, 8/5/12 (VIDEO)
See also: Strung Out's Jason Cruz: Twisted in a Suburban Teenage Wasteland
See also: Strung Out at Clubhouse Music Venue, 1/28/12 (VIDEO)
See also: Ataris' Kris Roe Explains the Meaning Behind His Arizona Tattoo, Classic Phoenix Venues, and Warped Tour
See also: The Ataris at Yucca Tap Room, 3/16/12
Strung Out and The Ataris @ Nile Theater, 9/5/12
When it comes to nostalgia, last night was all that a '90s punk fan could have asked for, aside from a time machine. Strung Out performed two of its most popular records in full and The Ataris played a fairly lengthy set--too bad only about 50 people showed up.
The poor turn out would have been less noticeable if the show was in the basement, but considering that I saw The Ataris play at The Underground a few years ago in August, I'm thankful it was somewhere that didn't feel like a sauna.
Were tickets too expensive? $20 isn't too bad. Do people actually like these bands? There were plenty of folks singing along, so yes. The conclusion is a fairly obvious one--people's attention on bands like these is waning. It's a shame, too, because any Strung Out fan would have enjoyed last night's show.
Strung Out kicked things off with 1996's Suburban Teenage Wasteland Blues, an album that helped define Strung Out's punk/metal hybrid sound. It immediately felt like old times when the band opened with "Firecracker." As I watched frontman Jason Cruz emote and guitarists Rob Ramos and Jake Kiley jump in unison, I was brought back to the Strung Out shows I saw as a teenager--singing along while holding my purse close in case I got knocked into the pit. I had the awkward realization that I didn't get bumped to at all last night. Half of the venue was roped off, yet I had more than ample personal space.
Sure, fans were into it, but the response was limited to a handful of mosh warriors and a few folks singing along near the stage. This response would have been appropriate if Strung Out was an opener, but it felt weird, considering the band's 28 song set.
In spite of the crowd's lukewarm response, the songs held up well live. Highlights were most of the songs one would hear at any other Strung Out show, "Never Good Enough," "Monster," "Bring Out Your Dead," etc., while others like "Solitaire" and "Gear Box" made it clear that Strung Out should play them more often. The band mostly stuck to its original sound, mixing up the guitar and drums parts every so often.
After wrapping up the Suburban set with "Wrong Side of the Tracks," Cruz left the stage and Ramos encouraged the crowd to chant "Tony Sly" over and over again. "Sly" was spelled out in green tape on one of the amps, so the late No Use for a Name singer was bound to be mentioned at some point, but Strung Out took it one step further. Ramos sang "Soulmate," which you can watch here:
I apologize for missing the first verse.
Kiley picked up a guitar with a print matching the band's Live in a Dive album cover, as Cruz returned for the Twisted by Design set. The crowd seemed to favor Twisted, and it's easy to see why. As Cruz mentioned in our interview, this is where Strung Out came into its own. There's more variety on this album, from the hard hitting "Ice Burn" to the melodic "Asking for the World."
The band mixed up the set list a little bit here, switching "Asking for the World" with "Crossroads." Cruz dedicated "World" to Jim Cherry, the band's original bassist, who died in 1996. Cruz took a moment to reflect on mortality and encouraged fans to "reevaluate relationships and take care of each other, because you never know what's going to happen."
Strung Out closed out its two hour, almost nonstop set with classic closing track, "Matchbook."