Courtesy of myspace.com/strungout
In the Venue
with A Wilhelm Scream, I Am Ghost
I should really know better than to show up at In the Venue at the advertised start time. Doors were supposed to open for this show at 7, so I decide to show up around 7:30 only to be greeted by a giant fucking line of people still waiting to get in. There was actually a pretty interesting cross-section of the concert-going public in the line: everyone from 40 year old dudes in Bad Religion t-shirts to some jock-core types and more than a few fashion-core kids. Doors finally opened at about 8, and everyone piled in to see the pretentious crapstravaganza that is I Am Ghost.
I Am Ghost signed to Epitaph right around the time that the label started going down the gutter, so I wasn't too excited about seeing this band. All I knew about them is that they used to have a violinist, have (or had) Christian leanings, and they have a horrible, horrible name. I was hanging out near their merch table before they took the stage and noticed many a teenage skank chatting up the merch guy, who probably thought he was pretty cool with his goofy haircut and tight black pants. Upon seeing the band take the stage, I prepared for the worst. Every member of I Am Ghost was decked out in skintight black clothes, sporting eyeliner and trying their hardest to look tough. They took the stage and delivered a competent but incredibly boring set of post-Refused crap rock. They weren't horrible, but their brand of entertainment definitely puts style over substance. The teenage girls were digging it, though. I had enough after three or four songs and went back to the bar to knock back a few before A Wilhelm Scream started.
The last time I saw A Wilhelm Scream, they totally stole the show from whoever the headliners were. They were so good that I seriously forgot who I saw them open for. They layer techincal, metal-inspired guitar licks on top of a rapid-fire, old-school hardcore tempo and top it all of with vocals that range from soulful and melodic to downright pissed off. They actually remind me of Strung Out a lot, but younger, louder and better. The energy of the crowd went up when they finally ripped into their set, as people were flying all over the room and fists pumped in the air as the crowd sang along. A Wilhelm Scream have a seriously intense energy, and the combination of melodic and aggressive elements in their music does something to really get people's adrenaline pumping. They played a killer new song called “9 to 5”, and peppered their set with classics from Mute Print and Ruiner such as “Me vs Morrissey in the Pretentiousness Contest” and “Famous Friends and Fashion Drunks”. And any band with a song titled “The Kids Can Eat a Bag of Dicks” is okay by me. They closed their set with “The King is Dead”, which features an awesome double guitar intro and shout along vocals that suddenly give way to a more melodic sound. A Wilhelm Scream definitely stole the show yet again.
I was content to call it a night after A Wilhelm Scream's killer performance, but Strung Out is definitely a great band in their own right, so why leave? I retreated again to the bar, where I drank far more than I intended too. Combined with the sun exposure I got while waiting in line and an empty stomach, the alcohol really did a number on me. So much so, in fact, that I really don't remember a whole hell of a lot of Strung Out's set. I know that they were all wearing matching t-shirts (which seems to be a signature of theirs), they played one of my favorite Strung Out songs in “No Voice of Mine”, and I saw too beefy dudes get in a fight by the merch tables and get thrown out of the show. Every time I've seen Strung Out, I've actually been a little disappointed in their live show. The crowd was going pretty crazy, as people were crowd surfing with nowhere to go in the small room of In the Venue, and the pit seemed pretty intense from where I was, but something just wasn't clicking for me. Maybe it was the booze. Maybe it was the fact that I enjoyed A Wilhelm Scream so much. Or maybe I just don't like Strung Out live. It definitely wasn't a bad performance, but I had already had my fun and met my daily recommended intake of rock. Maybe if Strung Out toured with two crappy bands instead of just one I would've been more impressed. Oh well.