When David Lynch’s warped Lost Highway antihero Fred Madison is queried about not owning a video camera he responds: ‘I like to remember things my own way... How I remembered them. Not necessarily the way they happened.’ This could be said of the ‘90s. I like to remember them as formative years full of great music and much enlightenment. The trouble with all these retrospective tours of musicians desperate to squeeze the last possible buck form their dwindling (or simply washed-up) careers is that, with the total exception of Pixies and a handful of others, they risk laying bare the hollowness of the era gone by, exposing the nasty shame you harbour in you darkest places.
To look at this Strung Out performance with some form of objectivity I forced myself to list all of the positives against the negatives in attempt to create some kind of balance.
Part 1: Good bits
When singer Jason Cruz’s whining voice is drowned out by the insistent double kick drums and three chord assault, the songs are infinitely better. The rhythm section is puckered tighter than a frog’s bottom and some of the alternating Rob Ramos and Jake Kiley lead breaks are Satriani slick.
Part 2: Bad bits
People actually still think this type of music is relevant. I dunno what caves you all sloped out of but music has changed—we should move on now people. If only Californian pop-punk (it makes me gag to use those two words in a hyphenated form but it’s the only way to get the message across that this ain’t hardcore, this ain’t metal, and this most certainly is not punk) were a dead end street, an infertile and childless mule of the music biz; but alas, from pop-punk emo spawned. And now we’re stuck with sulking assembly-line teenagers clagging up the public transport and generally bringing the whole damn vibe down. And yes, I hold the likes of Strung Out personally responsible. Through their flagrant disregard for the future and apathetic response to the early warning signs, we’re stuck with this trite forever. And that really sucks.