May 21, 2014 Seether, Black Stone Cherry, & Redlight King Take on Starland Ballroom Sayerville, NJ 5-14-14
Rock-n-roll is in the spring air of 2014 with some solid concert tours blooming across the USA. One of the brightest spots on the music highway is the bill of Seether, Black Stone Cherry, and Redlight King making their rounds in April and May. With all three bands packing their bags for the road with brand new albums, along with fan-favorites, this was a hot ticket many fans were eager to see. With thousands of miles traveled from New York to Florida and back to New York again, on Wednesday May 14th the tour buses made their way to Starland Ballroom in Sayerville, NJ. With the top rock station at the Jersey shore, WRAT 95.9 on hand hosting the show and the parking lot packed before the sun even went down, anticipation was high as everyone entered the venue.
Kicking off the celebration was Ontario Canada’s Redlight King. Founded in 2011, their debut album Something for the Pain saw major success with radio air play and steady touring on some of the best bills as audiences learned who they were. Led by talented lyricist and vocalist Kaz, the band is now recognized as a well-respected entity in modern rock as they dared to do their own thing, defying current trends. On the heels of a massive tour with Halestorm in support of their late 2013 album Irons In The Fire, Redlight King is back for more in 2014.
Taking the stage first is sometimes a daunting task for a band but Redlight King did so with poise, confidence, and tons of excitement. Opening with “Comeback” and “Built to Last” not only got the audience’s attention but helped ignite the flame for the rest of the show. Kaz’s cool calm vocal delivery is soothing and catchy while his stories are inspiring and touching. Mixing with solid instrumentation and an energetic stage performance, Redlight King blasted through new tracks like “Redemption” and “Devil’s Dance” which had everyone moving and the spirit-lifting “Born to Rise” had everyone singing. This opening hit all the right chords and concluded with “Times are Hard” and “Bullet in My Hand”. Redlight King has something for everyone and as they continue to spread their groove, big things will come their way.
Next up were Edmonton, Kentucky rock band Black Stone Cherry. Together now over a decade, these southern rockers have forged their own path going back to the roots of rock and blues. After three solid albums, it has been three years since the band has released any new material, and now they are back with Magic Mountain. Consisting of Chris Robertson (lead vocals, lead guitar), Ben Wells (rhythm guitar), Jon Lawhon (bass guitar), and John Fred Young (drums) these musicians are on a mission to take things to the next level. They have generations of music in their blood and they are ready to bring their historical finesse to the stage.
Bursting like a flash of light, they opened with the early tune “Maybe Someday”. Robertson’s soulful delivery amplified the mood to a higher level as the pounding rhythmic tone of songs like “Me And Mary Jane” shined. The raw energy this band possessed almost came across like punk rock while keeping the southern flavor thick in the tones of songs like “Yeah Man” and “In My Blood”. Barely taking a breath, Young was an absolute animal on the drums from start to finish. The audience loved every moment of each tune as they jammed out on the floor absorbing the atmosphere of pure rock music. With Magic Mountain already released and making noise on charts, the boys mixed in new song “Fiesta del Fuego”, which absolutely devoured the room. The throbbing bass of Lawhon along with the guitar combination of Robertson and Wells showed Black Stone Cherry have taken the next step in their evolution. Keeping the momentum going, the set wound down with “White Trash Millionaire”, “Blame It on the Boom Boom”, and “Lonely Train”. It is time the rest of the rock scene learn what Black Stone Cherry fans have known for years, and that is this band is a pure rock force of nature.
After excellent opening performances it was time for South Africa’s Seether to grace the stage. Having played at Starland Ballroom numerous times over the years, the venue has almost become a home away from home for the three-piece band as each and every show is always sold out with pumped up crowds. Having always captured their audience with a raw grunge influence and anthemic relatable lyrics, Seether is one of the biggest bands in modern hard rock. Many would say the turning point into stardom began with Finding Beauty in Negative Spaces in 2007 and reached a new level with Holding Onto Strings Better Left to Fray in 2011. For dedicated fans Shaun Morgan (lead vocals, rhythm guitar), Dale Stewart (bass), and John Humphrey (drums) have not missed a beat in anything they have put out since Disclaimer in 2002. That is why the burning in the chest of listeners is thick as they await the release of the band’s sixth studio album Isolate and Medicate on July 1st, and what better way to release some of that anxiety then with a live show.
Coming out swinging, Seether jammed “Gasoline” and “Needles”. With the floor in a frenzy singing and moving to the early classics, the hit “Fine Again” followed with even more crowd participation. Morgan stood stage right while Stewart and new touring guitarist Bryan Wickmann right down the middle, made for a very different stage setup than other bands; adding intrigue to the show. Maintaining a dark mellow atmosphere, the band played on with “Driven Under” and the beautiful song “Broken”. You can tell Morgan feels every ounce of emotion put into the writing of the music, even songs written over a decade ago; showing the true colors of a songwriter. While not bouncing around the stage and screaming at the audience, Morgan takes you deep into his world through the honest inflections in his voice.
The set moved on with an absolutely killer drum solo by Humphrey and then transitioned into a magnificent cover of Deftones “Change (In the House of Flies)”. Loving every minute of the performance, cheers came in waves after each song, and by the time gut-wrenching “Rise Above This” began, Starland Ballroom was in euphoria. Keeping the flood gates open, new song “Words As Weapons” was followed by “Tonight”, the raunchy “Country Song”, “Fake It”, and concluded with “Remedy”.
Seether sounded unbelievably tight as a unit on stage with a presence that fans have grown to love and expect from their performances. While the tour fades into the night, audiences are chanting for more, and with some luck later in 2014 Seether will be back on the road showcasing more of the new material. Until that time, pick up a copy of Isolate and Medicate upon its July 1st release and listen to it all summer long.