June 26, 2014 Scott Stapp takes The Emporium Higher Patchogue, NY 6-21-14
Saturday night is always a good time to let loose and forget the stresses of another week gone by. What better way to unwind then at a rock ‘n roll show full of summer solstice fun and soul? On June 21st, Scott Stapp of Creed provided that escape for Long Islanders. With a visit to The Emporium in Patchogue, NY, Stapp set out to show why he is one of the most influential voices in modern hard rock.
The Monks of Mellonwah, better known a MOM, opened the night offering punchy pop rock tunes. This foursome from Down Under, were eager to please and showed determination in winning over the small audience with free t-shirts saying, “We’re following Scott Stapp around!” Strong and smooth fusions of huge bass and drum beats; pitch perfect vocals and poppin’ guitar licks will keep this band worthy of earning a slot to following Stapp. The Karate’ Kid look-alike front man appears almost too young to possess such ease and swagger, but helps make this band worth checking out. Listeners will be hooked by the surprising nuggets of bluesy Rasta-like grooves that sneak in from time to time.
Next up was J.Rad, the LI powerhouse band. Since the early days at the Crazy Donkey, it was nice to see that they have since evolved into an even more polished version of themselves. Gino Rudolph’s animated vocal style is undeniably relevant in the band’s success. Russ Zutto’s thunderous bass grooves and evident love for the music shined through every song. The Cannata brothers should be proud of the band they have created and the show they put on. Jordan’s drumming style has progressed with every finger twirling and tossing, bang bam thank you man, excuse me while I “beat” my kit moments especially on “Tired and Broken”. Jared continues to anchor this band as he teases the audience with sweet and sticky guitar licks. J.Rad is an in your face, electric, high-voltage band that brought the good and delivered an excellent six tune set. Who would expect anything less?
As the evening transitioned, an indescribable energy was in the air as cobalt lights cast a hypnotic spell on the audience. The anticipation was palpable. This night, the nearly packed house fed off of the adorning blue hue and thematic driving beat that transported us higher, even before one note. Higher with expectation, excitement, and the promise of what everyone knew was upon them; the coming of Scott Stapp, with his Proof of Life in tow.
As the stepson of an Evangelist and the grandson of a Cherokee Native American, Stapp holds the purest love of God in his heart and is not afraid to show it or share it. His music is a mixture of lyrics that are influenced from his connection with the Bible and steady rhythms pulled from drum circles on fire lit nights in N.C. as a child. The former front-man of Creed has much to say through his latest release, Proof of Life (2013), where he revisits experiences that once plagued him. This time around he has a new perspective. He is fearless in sharing a new interpretation of his life story, highs and lows, with arms still wide open.
One by one, the band walked out. The predominantly female audience started to rumble with applause, because they knew he was coming. No grand entrance. No fuss – no muss. The crowd erupts with applause because the moment has finally arrived. Scott Stapp was in the house. The band launched into a new tune, “Slow Suicide”, where guitars screech to a winding high and then explode into hard-driving rock ‘n roll. It was an excellent start and the crowd knew every word and sang along, “I’m no evil…/No matter what you think of me/I’m just human…/There’s a part of you that’s just like me.” Stapp’s vocals echoed with a familiarity that is both comforting and inviting. His undeniably unique sound is strong, deep, and penetrating just like it is expected it to be. Being in great physical health, Stapp wears his sobriety very well, with a sense of reticence present. He was almost apprehensive about how this “Strong Island” crowd would receive him. Showing humility, Stapp asks, “How we doing?” and receives a deafening response.
“Who I Am” stirs one to take a hard look at the ego; a simple yet incredibly difficult idea for most to fathom. “What If” from Human Clay (1999), began with Stapp talking about how he was filled with depression, shame, and anger when he wrote the song. One could not help but take the journey of angst with him. The audience felt empathy watching him pour every drop of emotion into every word. He was believable and began to show genuine down-to-earth qualities. The Reverend was in the house and his congregation was ready for a revival.
“My Own Prison” seemed to be the profound shift in energy between Stapp and his audience. He began to unwind and settle in. It was a tangible transition where at that point, he knew that he could trust this audience with his soul. He appeared to be in a meditative, almost trance-like state, while belting out the words of self-discovery that lie within these lyrics. Looking at the audience members, one could see a tear or two, here and there, being wept. The thunderous applause wafted towards the stage, enfolding the band in gratitude.
All are more than willing to rescue him and sing along to “Surround Me” from The Great Divide (2005). He took a moment to talk to the crowd just before “Faceless Man”, another off of Human Clay. “There were moments where I’d be begging to go higher…crying to God. He was always here. He never went anywhere. He’s everywhere…in the trees, the sky.” Seems this was his modest attempt to invite the audience to consider God, without pontificating. After this slow powerful anthem, he asks while crossing the stage, “Did you feel that? It’s the spirit of change.”
“New Day Coming” brings eternal hope for a better life and world filled with love. This line up of musicians openly exchange respect with Stapp and each other. They are unlike other Christian bands that have taken the “Christian” road as a quick avenue to fame. Scott Stapp is the spiritual Guru of rock ‘n roll and puts his soul on the line, unabashedly and proudly. It is not because he is pretentious; rather it is who he is down to the cellular level. This open-minded crowd was on a spiritual high that elevated even higher as “Arms Wide Open” blared through the speakers and everyone’s arms were wide open. Just when we feel like we are all drinking from the chalice of a disciple of GOD, here it comes……“Higher”. The energy of the crowd detonated and the aftershocks were glorious as he turned the mic over to the crowd with a rousing “Come on let’s go there/Let’s make our escape/Come on let’s go there/Let’s ask can we stay,” had some wishing there were a highway to heaven with a limo waiting out back.
“Hit Me More” is a new tune with a shuffle and swinging rhythm. The lyrics describe Stapp’s near death experience when he fell from a balcony at The Delano Hotel – Miami, 2006. Revealed in his memoir, Sinner’s Creed, it leads followers to believe that he has made peace with that situation. Being taken back to Weathered (2001) and “One Last Breath”, Stapp flashed his brilliant smile that let everyone know he was having as much fun as they were. He gives homage to God, for keeping him moving forward in a beautiful punchy ballad called, “Only One”. After which he said, “I didn’t come here to preach. This is what pulled me out of the grave.” He continued with another Proof of Life tune, “Jesus Was a Rockstar”, which is his vulnerable attempt at aligning his love of God and his love of music without the usual self-indulgent rock star behavior of sex, drugs, and rock ‘n roll. “You don’t want to get too high and you don’t want to get too low. Try to stay in the middle,” suggests Stapp as he introduced “Crash,” a song which bridges the truth about his past with his present. “Crash” offers a beautiful melody, ensuring it will be a hit. “My Sacrifice”, from Weathered, is where Stapp again showered the audience with gratitude, smiles, and electric interaction.
The ebb and flow of energy was intense the entire night because every ticket holder was a fanatic of Scott Stapp. He closed the show with the title track and said, “Thanks for coming on this journey. What’s the proof of your life?” The audience was left enlightened yet exhausted, renewed yet sweaty, but most definitely higher.
Visit www.scottstapp.com for concert dates in your area.
Written by Terry McCrum