Punk rockers, Strung Out, return to Montreal for the second time this year. One of the main players at Pouzza festival back in mid-May. Bringing with them New York’s The Casualties.
To a near empty room played New York’s The Casualties. With a new singer at the microphone, replacing the disgraced Jorge Herrera, who had a reputation for creeping on young girls. We won’t get into that here. Or, probably ever.
Two, maybe three songs in, it became apparent that David Rodriguez, formerly of the Krumb Bums, is a far better fit for this band and The Casualties are better off following their shuffling of the deck.
Slowly but surely, the casuals saunter in to fill Club Soda to about half capacity. Filling the floor but the upper tier remained curtained off. It is, after all, a weekday in a city that is spoiled for entertainment options. On any given night, music connoisseurs will have any number of live shows to pick from.
The Casualties are solid none the less. Belting out tracks like “Riot” and “Borders”. Which had the now expected rant against Donald Trump and his wall. Like clockwork. “Tomorrow Belongs To Us”, “For The Punx” and Written In Blood” being highlights of their set.
Covering the Ramones was a nice touch. Bringing out Strung Out vocalist, Jason Cruz, to help sing “Pet Sematary” was a hoot.
For their final jingle of the evening, the band drag up a selection of fans to the stage. It looks to now be equal parts people on stage as in front of it, while the band caps off a surprisingly good set with “We Are All We Have”. And a bit of a sing-along erupts. Truth be told, the late-comers missed a solid set.
Strung Out are up next – and I genuinely hope that the first thing they did was fire whomever was running the soundboard into the sun using an acme canon. I’m not sure if this was a house employee or somebody touring with the band, perhaps a bartender trying out a new trade. No matter. Into the sun with you.
The bass and kick drums were so loud that vocals and guitars were not existent. From the corner of the room, the reverb was so much that my ears ached despite my earplugs. I left promptly for the rear of the room where the sound was only slightly better. Others followed and we were soon more people at the back of the club than near the stage. The sound was punishing, to say the least. People began to leave the venue. That bad.
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At times the band seemed to be off key. I would imagine due to the dreadful sound. Now, it needs saying that I am a fan and have been since “Teenage Suburban Wasteland Blues” was a new release – you do the math.
Despite all that, Strung Out rocked their faithful with a solid set list comprised of tracks spanning their lengthy discography. Including several of my personal favorites. “Velvet Alley” in particular received a raucous chant along that was rowdy enough to drown out the over-bass.
Strung Out played tracks off of nine of their albums. An interesting time travelling through the bands illustrious career resulted. A lot of it coming from earlier works, too. Having followed the band since my teenage (wasteland) years, I was quite content to hear these older songs.
“So you guys have been coming to see us for twenty-five years now” said front-man Jason, adding “We’ve watched you grow and you’ve watched us grow old.” I suppose that is true for a lot of us. Funny how music never ages.
>Ending off a set with a cover of Ozzy Osbourne’s “Bark At The Moon” is class. Pure and simple. My personal favorite before that – “Bring Out Your Dead”.
On my way home, I received a text from a friend of mine who had no idea The Casualties were in town. She had found out when the band walked into the Piranha bar just down the way from the venue. Turns out, they’re cool cats. The band spent the night drinking and playing the pinball machine with my friends. I really enjoy hearing about musicians acting like they’re regular humans. So many are too good to be seen living their lives.