Face to Face was headlining this tour, so Strung Out got a pretty short set which was a little heartbreaking for me. Strung Out leaned most heavily on Twisted By Design and An American Paradox, but playing most of the songs that you'd expect at their shows. Jason Cruz is still the coolest lead man ever. He came out with his American Choppers cut-off tee, black hair hanging just over his bandana, complete with a handlebar mustache. It was a sweet look. The highlight of their set for me was when they were playing one of their old songs off Support Your Troops and they broke into Pantera's song Walk. I just kept laughing, and they only got through "Re! Spect! Walk!" before Jason yelled "psych!" and broke back into their own song. They closed with Matchbook like they do every show that I've ever been to which is now either approaching or has surpassed 20 shows. One of their guitars didn't play for about half their set which is especially sad considering how big a component of their music that is.
The last, and only, time I saw Face to Face was at a New Year's Eve show back in 1998 (1999) where Strung Out also opened for them. I loved them before then, but that's where a band really makes its mark on you - just how good they are when they're actually performing live.
They are every bit as good as I remember them from when I was 18. They played a few new songs, which were actually still good, but they relied heavily on their old stuff which was really what everyone wanted. Some of the high lights included just about EVERYTHING that is featured on their live album. I especially loved Don't Turn Away, A-Ok, and I Won't Lie Down. Trever Keith is a really fun front man. I also forgot just how complicated their bass lines are. Just really good stuff all around. I thought that I had heard just about every song that I wanted when they finished, but they came out for an encore and finished up with Not For Free (?).
I thought it was weird when there wasn't a pit for Strung Out, but it got pretty good for Face to Face so I jumped in for a few songs. Utah will never match the energy of a Southern California show, but the crowd was still pretty amped for this one by the time Face to Face came out. (At home, when you go to a show, it's a whole-body experience. Getting to the front means constantly pushing on the guy in front of you so you don't get crushed by the crowd trying to fight their way through you to the stage. This results in pretty tired arms by the end of the night.
Anyway, it really was such a good time. Going to a live show is really one of the things that I just live for. Strung Out opened up with Too Close to See and I just couldn't stop grinning as they were playing. Not only because the live version of the song is much better than the original, but just because it's so fun to hear your favorite bands play your favorite songs live.