Strung Out plays MacEwan Ballroom and speaks to us

By Josh LaVoie

In the land of punk there is a distinct division between groups. You’ve got your old school punks who have been enjoying the scene in some cases since the early ’80s. Then, you’ve got your new school punks whose interest was spurred when Blink 182 made it big in the late ’90s.

The second group is currently rejoicing about Good Charlotte’s MTV viewers choice award, while the first group, disgusted with the award, proceeded to Thurs., Sept. 4’s Strung Out concert.

Since their formation in 1992, Strung Out has put their unwavering, unique style out there for those who would listen to it not caring a bit for those who wouldn’t. After interviewing Jake Kiley, the band’s guitarist, before the show, I couldn’t be more confident the old schoolers made the right choice.

"We still have some of the original fans coming to see us, guys that have been listening to us for like eight or nine years, it shows that we haven’t disappointed them" said Kiley.

His statement was proven true as hundreds of fans poured into the MacEwan Ballroom garbed in Strung Out gear, talking about the songs they most wanted to hear. It turns out Canada, particularly Calgary, has always been excellent to the Southern California-based melodic hardcore band.

"The whole Canadian scene has always been really good to us," Kiley remarked. "We’ve been here something like eight or nine times, sometimes twice a year."

As the crowd waited for the band to come out, they were faced with a trio of openers: The Kinison, Static Lullaby and Eighteen Visions.

The Kinison had the pleasure of kicking the evening off with their own mix of screamo and hardcore punk. While full of emotion–the lead singer put on a particularly good show, dancing around the stage–they lacked any melody and played a loose set, resulting in a show that will be remembered more for its theatrics than for the music itself.

They were followed by a spectacular effort from A Static Lullaby, whose extremely clean set got the crowd going again. Mirroring the screamo roadmap, they delivered a text-book performance, even adding a nearly superfluous third singer, solely to provide screaming to fill out the band’s sound.

The evening’s final opener, Eighteen Visions provided a somewhat out-of-place dose of rhythm-driven metal. Wearing all black and backed by some impressive green/blue mixed lighting, the darker feel of this band was a stark contrast to Strung Out, who soon took the stage.

"With smaller shows it’s more intimate, you’re close to the crowd, its just better," Kiley explained before the show.

Nearly 12 years of experience in smaller venues like the Ballroom and a band learns how to work the crowd.

"Just pretty much hanging out, relaxing, we don’t really warm up too much, just play guitar a bit throughout the day. But we just play video games all day, meet kids at the show," mentioned Kiley when asked how they prepare for a show.

Strung Out burst on stage with the energy of an eight-year-old after a six-pack of Pepsi, releasing what they saved by relaxing earlier.

Blasting through crowd favourites like "Too Close to See," it wasn’t long until half the Ballroom was a raging mosh pit. The band played an amazingly tight set, stymied somewhat by poor mixing and Students’ Union security blocking all attempts at audience members getting up front for a little stage diving.

"The security guards often hurt the kid more than the kid would’ve hurt himself," said Kiley.

After an obviously-staged encore, Strung Out finished a near-perfect set just before the crowd broke out into an all-out frenzy. The old school punks were then able to go home satisfied and wait for a rumored new album in 2004. I hope we see it soon.

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