SoCal Punk rockers Strung Out return to Montreal a few months after playing Pouzza fest this past spring.
For the people who showed up early on a Wednesday, the night belonged to them. Walking into the venue, it was disturbingly sparsely populated. Honestly, there was more merchandise for sale than people in the room. For some time, it felt as if The Casualties and Strung Out would be playing for an empty room. Something that is very uncharacteristic for a Montreal gig.
As time ticked away, a nervousness could be felt as the venue still felt bare. We could speculate on the why for days. Bad weather. Mid-week. Pure bad luck. Perhaps allegations towards the former singer of The Casualties held people back (We won’t get into that here, though). Who knows? The only certainty was that this was an uncommon sight.
Thankfully, however, it didn’t take long for the die hard fans to start pouring in. Late, but still they came.
Strung Out would be making their second trip to the city on the calendar year, having played the main stage at Pouzza fest that spring. For the uninitiated; the main stage at Pouzza is outdoors, and free of charge. Thus the gathering was massive.
This time, they brought along their friends from New York City, The Casualties, on the road with them. A band pretty familiar with playing our city. But with a a bit of a line up change, due to the sudden departure of singer Jorge Herrera.
The lights dimmed and within a few minutes, a mass of Mohawks covered the stage. Gripping the mic and belted ‘The World Belongs To Us’. Their energy infected the crowd. Having hard shoes to fill, new singer, David Rodriguez, had already won the crowd over. Fronting the band The Krum Bums, he was no stranger to performing for a rowdy crowd.
Rodriguez insisted everyone move in a little closer. But most were aware of the soon to be mosh pit. Becoming aware of it himself, he jumped into the audience, taking on starting the circle pit himself.
Playing most of the songs the crowd had come to love over the years, the time soon came for the the audience to be parted down the the middle for the wall of death. Everyone squished to each either, side by side, and got ready to charge. But it fizzled into more of a fence of minor pain.
By the end, most fans were singing along with all the whoa’s. All around a solid set, giving us some classic punk covers as well. With a sped up ‘Pet Semetery’ from The Misfits. Finishing with a harder hitting version of ‘Gabba Gabba Hey’ from The Ramones.
With ridiculous politics going on in the United States, Trump was not forgotten; even in Canada. Rodriguez asked everyone to raise their middle fingers high to give a proper salute. I can just picture, in my minds eye, Trump’s grimace at the thought. An it is a thing of beauty. Sure, many Punk bands have thumbed their noses at a political leader; but has such a thing ever been so obvious?
Strung Out took to the stage next, and the venue now felt its normal self. Full. Not full full, but full enough. Now, normally a headlining band will draw people closer to their stage, but the opposite was true on this occasion. Through no fault of the band, I must say. Whoever was working the soundboards on this night, should have been kicked into the Lachine canal. It was that bad. People were leaving the front of the house due to the terrible acoustics. The amount of bass pounding out from the speakers was painful – and I was wearing my earplugs.
We are talking to the point where the show could no longer be enjoyed. Painful levels of bass. Over bass. And it is a shame, because from the rear of the venue, it was obvious that Strung Out where rocking the fuck out! It took a good five, maybe six songs, for the sound engineer to lower the levels but even then, it was still overkill.
Being no stranger to Club Soda nor to Punk rock or Strung Out; I was baffled. What was happening here? I watched as people held their ears; some leaving early. Strung Out deserved better. Hopefully they didn’t notice the exodus and if they did, I hope they knew why. Strung Out simply rock, but on this ave, the speakers where our enemy.
As for The Casualties; their change in vocalist not only gives them a better sound but removes the shadow of sexual assault claims against former frontman, Jorge Herrera. (I witnessed his nonsense in person, by the way).
Following the show, friends of mine sent me texts and cell phone images of members of The Casualties hanging out at a local bar, rocking on the arcade machines with fans and acting like regular, normal human beings. This, to me, is the most Punk rock thing I can think of. After all, they are just guys playing the music they love, to people who love their music. I applaud them for that.
Strung Out’s latest release, “Songs Of Armor And Devotion”, and tickets to the remaining tour dates can be purchased by following this link.
Written by Samantha Morris, photographed by Kieron Yates.