Oh, how I love visiting the luxurious venue that Seattle calls El Corazon.
Why the booking agents for Strung Out couldn't land a place such as The Showbox (which actually was conveniently lacking a show on this day) mystifies me, but there could be worse things than visiting this airtight shithole. Listening to Cute Is What We Aim For's "music" for an hour or so is only one thought that comes to mind.
Considering the circumstances, I was fairly fortunate to even attend this show. When you have no car, a pretty dismal amount of money to your name, and can't figure out the Seattle metro routes worth shit, making the venture to downtown Seattle can be quite the pain in the ass. But hey, enough of my complaining already.
The show was scheduled to start at 8, and I ended up arriving sometime around 7:40, and joined about 40 people standing around waiting for the show to get rolling. At first, I was taken aback, seeing as I never would have guessed such a small crowd would show up for a Strung Out show, but then I remembered that I Am Ghost was opening. Seeing I Am Ghost play was far from a priority of mine, but I had no room to judge as I hadn't seen them live before. To be frank, I'd prefer seeing I Am Ghost live to many other bands I've seen in the past (I'll swallow my pride and admit to Matchbook Romance here). Despite this, that didn't exactly make their performance enjoyable. Frontman Steve Juliano felt that it was necessary to explain how he severely sprained his ankle last time that he played here, but continued to play the show and didn't cancel any shows following that. What a saint. They played a variety of songs including "We Are Always Searching," "Pretty People Never Lie / Vampires Never Die" and an assortment of newer songs, including "Dark Carnival of the Immaculate." While a select 10 or 15 fraternity-lookin' fellas up front ate it up, it was mainly just killing time for Strung Out.
A Wilhelm Scream came out and kicked off their set around 8:45, with Nuno Pereira sporting a retro Shawn Kemp jersey, much to the appeal of us Seattleites…sort of. I had been anticipating seeing AWS more than Strung Out, so I was more than ecstatic when I noticed their set would be going until 9:30 rather than 9:15. Apparently I wasn't the only one, seeing as how the population in the venue had come close to doubling since I Am Ghost left the stage and the atmosphere was completely different. Instead of having maybe 10 people moving, the entire floor was getting into it. While mostly playing tracks from Ruiner and Mute Print, they played "5 to 9" and "The Horse" from their upcoming release. "Killing It" was among the first songs they played, followed by "The Kids Can Eat a Bag of Dicks," "The Soft Sell," "Me vs. Morrissey…," "William Blake Overdrive" (by request and much to my personal enjoyment), and more. They predictably closed out their set with "The King Is Dead," but that made no difference to me, as I was still up front yelling the lyrics back in bassist Bri Robinson's face.
After the closing of A Wilhelm Scream's set, we were left with a half-hour of time to kill until Strung Out came on at 10. Once again, the populace of El Corazon was steadily growing and we were all quickly running out of elbow space. When 10 rolled around and Strung Out marched on stage, the crowd went absolutely nuts. After constantly reading that Strung Out's live performances were immaculate and that they were basically just damn good at playing live, I had high expectations. Sitting here now, I can confidently say that those expectations were fully met. Between playing their chords near flawlessly and the constant crowd interaction by Jason Cruz, it was difficult to not be impressed. However, after getting yanked off the stage by a girl trying to kiss him and getting mobbed in the crowd, he may be a bit more hesitant to lean so far over next time. Regardless, he finished the song (from inside the crowd), took a breather, and kicked it back into gear. Hearing favorites like "No Voice of Mine," "Matchbook" and "Angeldust" was nothing but fantastic, and other songs such as "The Exhumation of Virginia Madison" and "Bring Out Your Dead" have found a newfound appreciation from me after hearing the live renditions.
Afterwards, I was left wandering around Howell Street and Yale Avenue for a good hour or so before I finally found a way home, but seeing AWS and Strung Out for the first time (and with only so many weeks before I leave Seattle for school again) was easily worth being stranded downtown.