When Strung Out announced they would be bringing three of their tour mates from the Australian Hits and Pits tour to The Observatory in Orange County, California this writer’s eyes almost popped out of his head. On Friday, June 27th punk/metal crossover group Strung Out, hardcore heroes Death By Stereo, punk supergroup Implants, and experimental punkers Heartsounds played one hell of a show. Each band took their own punk spin-off to new extremes at this show and gave fans more than one reason to fork over the twenty bucks for a ticket.
Heartsounds started off the night with their softer, melodic sound. As patrons started to fill the multi-tiered general admission venue they were treated to songs off all three of their albums: Until We Surrender, Drifter, and Internal Eyes. Each of their songs catered to the softer tones of punk similar to Hot Water Music and Alkaline Trio giving the growing crowd a fantastic warm-up for this amazing show. Almost immediately after Heartsounds left the stage, Implants did a quick mic check and unexpectedly flew straight into their set with “Life Passes”.
Members of The Tank, Strung Out, Ten Foot Pole, and Pulley have been touring together as a unit for since 2012 under the name Implants; and their combined effort is paying off. Recent international tours in support of their debut album, From Chaos to Order, have helped them climb up show bills and reach a broad group of new fans. Their first album has a much happier tone than their individual bands’ previous work and was significantly more positive than any other band on the bill. Implants even tested crowd reactions by playing a new song off of their upcoming album scheduled to be released in 2015 giving this writer even more reason to anticipate the band’s sophomore release.
Next, almost polar opposites Death By Stereo stormed the stage screaming lyrics to “The Plague” with enough enthusiasm to put the Energizer bunny to shame. Their raw sound quickly tossed venue security into the deep end as a stampede of fans quickly engulfed the venue’s bottom tier with a ceaseless circle pit. Everything about Death By Stereo had an aggressively in-your-face edge similar to bands like Terror and Every Time I Die which gave them a fantastic stage presence, but they didn’t stay in place for long. The band’s lead singer Efrem Schulz quickly hurdled the barricade, microphone in hand, ran through the crowd, and stood atop sectional walls to give even the back row a piece of the action. Efrem’s mobility was entertaining, but he wasn’t the only member to leave the stage on more than one occasion. One of the show highlights was when guitarist JP Gerick and bassist Robert Madrigal ran around and tried their hand in the enormous circle pit without missing a beat. Dan Palmer also spent the entire show racing back and forth on stage. He even climbed the stage amps and played nearly an entire song in the crowd coaxing each and every fan to have their voice heard. The last member Mike Cambra was stuck behind a drum kit, but that didn’t stop him from giving it his all. As if pounding the drums for bands like The Adolescents, and Common War was not enough; Mike showed more than just skill behind the drums at The Observatory with plenty of stick tricks.
By the Barricade snagged an interview with Death By Stereo before they ripped through all of their hits like “Unstoppable”, “Lookin’ Out For #1”, and “Beyond The Blinders.” Their hour-long set gave audience members almost no time to rest their vocal chords. Nearly every single lyric was met with a wave of off-key repeat offenders from the audience sometimes being significantly louder than the band. Death By Stereo not only cranked up their sound to eleven but had one of the most mobile and entertaining performances this writer has ever seen.
Although Death By Stereo’s set was nearly impossible to follow, Strung Out came out swinging! Both punk and metal fans could have found something to enjoy here with the band’s upbeat and melodic songs. Strung Out has made quite a name for themselves over their 23 year history, and it’s not hard to see why. When Strung Out isn’t in the studio they tour the world and prove the crossover genre is alive and well. Luckily the band took a day off their rigorous studio schedule and graced The Observatory with their presence. After announcing their newest album will be released on September 30th their set was like a trip down memory lane with songs from the band’s whole discography giving extra attention to their first two albums. The show then ended with “Soulmate” as a memorial to No Use For A Name lead singer Tony Sly.
This show gave four very different sides of punk the chance to collide and Californians got a taste of the Hits and Pits festival. This show really had something for everyone. If you are at all a fan of old school punk; whether it be melodic, soft, heavy, or metal driven this show did not disappoint. If a show like this ever happens in California again it’s a given that By the Barricade will be there to cover it.
All photos contributed by Jen Reightley.