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'sSuburban 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."
Last night was easily the most awkward Ataris set I have seen. The band didn't do anything wrong, except perhaps for Kris Roe talking a little too much, but the songs sounded fine. It was weird to go from seeing the band in front of a packed, drunken crowd a few months ago to a somber, heckling audience. My friend even remarked, "You know what would make this better? Beer."
Alcohol isn't necessarily the key to enjoying an Ataris set, the nostalgia is more than enough. The band was kind of an odd choice to open for Strung Out, as evidenced by the guy who kept shouting, "tell us another story, asshole" to Roe.
The strangest part of The Ataris' set was when a few guys started hardcore dancing to "San Dimas High School Football Rules." Maybe they were avid Bill and Ted fans, but it was most likely another odd attempt at heckling.
Setlists and more photos on page three.
Strung Out Setlist: Firecracker Better Days Solitaire Never Good Enough Gear Box Monster Bring Out Your Dead Rottin' Apple Radio Suicide Somnombulance Six Feet Speedball Wrong Side of the Tracks
Soulmate (No Use for a Name Cover)
Too Close to See Exhumation of Virgina Madison Deville Mind of My Own Reason to Believe Asking for the World Paperwalls Ice Burn Ultimate Devotion King Alvarez Crossroads Tattoo Just Like Me Matchbook
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The Ataris Setlist: In This Diary Unopened Letter to the World The Hero Dies in This One My Hotel Year So Long Astoria ??? 1-15-96 San Dimas High School Football Rules Your Boyfriend Sucks All Souls Day
Critic's Notebook: Last Night: Strung Out and The Ataris at Nile Theater. Personal Bias: 10 years ago, I would have called this the show of the year. The Crowd: It was a stretch to find anyone under 25. Overheard in the Crowd: "I hope they don't play that shitty Eagles song." Random Notebook Dump: Getting a picture of Jake Kiley airborne is easier said than done.