May 13, 2016 Sevendust Rattle Sold Out Playstation Theater, NYC 5-3-16 w/ Trivium, Like A Storm, & Westfield Massacre
There is a saying, “A little rest never hurt anyone,” and for the members of Georgia-based Hard Rock band Sevendust, taking some time off created musical magic. For over two decades now, Sevendust has not slowed down from creating music and touring. Then, the band took a much needed breather following the touring cycle for their 2014 acoustic-based album, Time Travelers & Bonfires. The result when they regrouped to record new music at Architekt Music Studio in Butler, New Jersey was their impressive tenth studio album, Kill the Flaw. An album that fans, peers, and critics alike hailed as perhaps Sevendust’s heaviest and most powerful work to date, it even garnered them a much deserved Grammy nomination in the Best Metal Performance category for the single “Thank You.”
An honor many fans would agree was long overdue, they would also argue Sevendust is the hardest working band in Rock, and they would be right. Perhaps one of the most passionate and fan-friendly group of musicians this side of the ocean, Vocalist Lajon Witherspoon, Guitarist John Connelly, Bassist Vinnie Hornsby, Guitarist Clint Lowery, and Drummer Morgan Rose are almost like family to their fanbase. In fact, Witherspoon humbly told CrypticRock in a 2014 interview, “I do not think we have fans, I think we have family and friends out there. It is an amazing thing, I would not ask for anything more.” Indeed a sentiment shared by listeners, Sevendust announced in January they would be hitting the road again for a headlining tour, this time teaming up with Trivium, Like A Storm, and Westfield Massacre. A lineup buzz-worthy around the Rock/Metal community, the bill fittingly sold out Playstation Theater in New York City on Tuesday, May 3rd. With concertgoers of all backgrounds entering the theater doors early to catch each band, it was bound to be a night full of Rock-n-Roll unity ahead.
Starting off the night’s festivities was Los Angeles Metal Band Westfield Massacre. Led by former Divine Heresy frontman, Tommy Vext, Westfield Massacre is complete with Guitarists Ira Black and Stephen Brewer, former Otep Bassist Erick Tisinger, and Drummer Dio Britto. Releasing their self-titled debut album via Urban Yeti Records on April 29th, the band has seemed to have struck up interest during this short period of time, and now they were ready to make their Playstation Theater debut.
Entering the stage with their backs to the crowd, the crowd seemed to be very animated as the band started in on their first song, “Darkness Divides.” An eye-opening beginning, Black, Brewer, and Tisinger moved back and forth on stage while Britto banged away on the drums providing a full Metal experience. Meanwhile, Vext was very vocal in between songs, all with a smile on his face, as the Brooklyn native was happy to be back in New York City. With fists in the air and screams, the crowd ate up the music as well as songs like “Respect Resistance” and Westfield Massacre’s latest video single,”Build Your Thrones.” Concluding with Nirvana’s “Heart-Shaped Box” before “Underneath the Skin,” which originally features Lamb of God’s Randy Blythe, it was a impressive conclusion. Vext elated and energized,the band thanked Sevendust for taking them out on their first tour, and judging by the audience’s response, the feeling was mutual.
Next up was the New Zealand-based Hard Rock outfit known as Like A Storm. Currently residing in North America, Like a Storm have been on the road non-stop for what seems like six straight years now. On tour with bands like Creed after the release of their 2009 debut album, The End of the Beginning, Like A Storm has also shared the stage with Alter Bridge, Shinedown, and Staind, among many others. Even taking to the road on their own in 2013 for their first ever headlining US tour, the hard work and dedication paid off for Like A Storm in 2015 when they signed on with Century Media’s newest Hard Rock label, Another Century. Shortly after releasing their official sophomore album, Awaken the Fire, Like a Storm has seen their grassroots fan base grow expeditiously with the label support added to their arsenal. Now the brotherhood of Chris Brooks (lead vocals, guitar, didgeridoo, keys/programming), Matt Brooks (vocals, lead guitar, keys/programming), and Kent Brooks (vocals, bass, keys), along with Zach Wood (drums) were ready for a celebrated return to the Big Apple.
In Like A Storm tradition, Chris first appeared on stage playing the didgeridoo; an instrument that has become synonymous with the sound of the band. Matching the mood, the stage was set with a theme of skeletons; flames and candles adding a mysterious theme. Then the crowd went wild as Matt, Kent, and Wood entered to start with the song “Chaos.” High-energy throughout the set, Chris even stood on the barricades a few times to get closer to the audience. In the time they were given, Like A Storm rocked out tracks such as “Six Feet Under,” and their distinctive rendition of Coolio’s “Gangsta’s Paradise.” Then adding some spice to the night, Chris brought the didgeridoo back out for a unique combined solo with Wood on drums. Following the jam, they kept excitement high with the chant along “Become the Enemy” and “Wish You Hell.” A powerful mix of their tracks, Chris wrapped the set up by asking the audience to scream “Hate Me” as loud as they could, and they did as the band concluded with their hit single “Love The Way You Hate Me.”
As the set ended, Like A Storm were all smiles and truly grateful for the warm welcome from the sold out crowd. As a band, their reputation for being one of the more unique Hard Rock acts around keeps spreading. With that said, Like A Storm is well on the road to massive things in the future.
Two bands down, two to go, and first of the last would be Trivium. Compared to the likes of Metallica early on in their career, the Orlando, Florida-based Trivium’s 2005 sophomore album, Ascendancy, really put them on the map. Aware of the comparison to Metallica since their inception back in 1999, Trivium has built their own identity, and it has been one that garner them the respect as one of modern Heavy Metal’s heroes. Now veterans themselves, Trivium is now supporting their seventh studio album, 2015’s Silence in the Snow, a record critics and fans regard as a modern Metal masterpiece. That is why, visually surveying the floor of the sold out crowd, it was easy to see there were a mass of Trivium fans on hand.
Trivium took the stage next with vigor and every ounce of energy in their bodies. The band made up of Matt Heafy on lead vocals and guitar, Corey Beaulieu on guitar and backing vocals, Paolo Gregoletto on bass and backing vocals, and Paul Wandtke took the stage with vigor, projecting their abundant energy onto the crowd. Starting with “Strife,” they then went into “Rain,” “Built to Fall,” and 2003’s “Requiem.” From crowd-surfing, to clapping, to headbanging, and dancing, all fans seemed to listen to Heafy’s wish for them to partake in the show as much as he and the band on stage.
Mixing in more current singles like “Dead and Gone” before “Throes of Perdition” and “Down from the Sky,” the thrashing was relentless, while the melodic riffs were epic. Heafy unquestionably has secured himself as one of the best guitarists in Metal today and his work on the stage of Playstation Theatre made it ever so evident. Concluding their set with “Pull Harder on the Strings of Your Martyr,” Wandtke was given the spotlight for a killer drum solo that had fans whistling for more. Thankfully there was still one trick left and it came in the form of an encore as Trivium offered the intense 2011 single, “In Waves.” For nearly two decades, Trivium has carved a name for itself. They are still as powerful as they ever were, just more experienced and refined with the sounds of albums such as Silence in the Snow. Following this tour with Sevendust, the band will take their talents to Europe through June and July, but not to worry, they will be back in North America later in the summer for Chicago Open Air and Heavy Montreal.
As the stage cleared, a white drape was drawn across, forcing fans to have to wait impatiently for what Sevendust set up would look like. In the meantime, Prince’s “Let’s Go Crazy” could be heard as the band’s intro with voices from the crowd raising in volume to chant “Sevendust.” When it stopped, green shadows of the band cast upon the white drape could be seen as they started their set with “Not Today.” A grand entrance, Witherspoon’s screamed, “What’s Up New York,” as a roar followed. It would not be until the middle of the song when the drape would fall and the band would be exposed. A simple setup, the platform was just the musicians and their instruments, but Rose’s kit had the Kill The Flaw logo on it in white and green as was featured on the backdrop. The crowd went wild, screaming at the top of their lungs, and it would not stop as Sevendust went into “Home.” This time joined by the crowd clapping together, Hornsby was running around and up and down off risers interacting with as many people as possible. Witherspoon, always charismatic, smiled and reached out to extending hands, asking them to sing “From Left to Right,” which all gladly obligated. Meanwhile, Connolly and Lowery were at the microphones, while Rose was beating up his drum kit in his infamous style.
This adrenaline rush did not stop with the next track, “Face 2 Face,” as smoke rose and each member of Sevendust played their hearts out while crowd-surfers began to emerge. This continued through other favorites such as “Hero” and “Ugly.” Then, changing up the mood a bit, Witherspoon asked the crowd if they would like to hear an acoustic version of “Denial.” Naturally, the cheers rang loudly in approval, and with hands clapping in the crowd, Witherspoon, Connelly, Rose, and Lowery broke it down acoustically. To transform the cut, Witherspoon slowed down the vocals of the normally fast tempo, while Connelly and Lowery played electric guitar in mellow fashion to accompany Witherspoon. Complementary, Rose played the bongo from behind his kit as Hornsby plucked his bass for a truly magical moment and great rendition of the fan-favorite.
Picking the pace right back up, “Disease” was followed by “Deadset” as the audience sang along, danced, and threw their hands in the air. Sevendust themselves were at their best, working the audience, devoting all their energy to putting on a show and entertaining all. On the side of the stage, members of Westfield Massacre, Like A Storm, and Trivium were even seen watching Sevendust’s performance, proving they were very much fans themselves. Then to many’s surprise, but fittingly, in memory of Prince, the stage turned purple and Witherspoon stated that “Angels Son,” originally written for longtime friend Lynn Strait of Snot, would be dedicated to Prince. He asked the crowd, “Is it okay if we do this song for Prince tonight. This is how it sounds when the world cries.” With that, the song became one of the more emotional moments of the evening as everyone sang along, paying respect to the fallen musical genius.
A riveting turn of events in the set, “Death Dance” followed with its in-your-face vocals, heavy riffs, and strong percussion. Then, fan-favorites “Waffle” and “Enemy” were played, igniting a mosh pit and crowd-surfing as the music grew heavier. Unfortunately, due to curfews, Sevendust’s normally lengthy show was abbreviated, but not before Witherspoon addressed the crowd, saying, “We may not have won the Grammy, but they can never take the nomination away from us.” A message that struck home with much of the audience, “Thank You” began and Rose, Connelly, Lowery, Witherspoon, and Hornsby gave it their all, moving around the stage, fueling the audience. When the song ended, Connelly, Lowery, and Hornsby would toss out guitar picks as Rose stood on the riser to salute the crowd, throwing out his sticks and a towel too, as they all said their final thank yous and goodbyes.
If one thing can be said about Sevendust is that they have earned their spot as being one of the most intense and respected bands in the music industry today. Since the beginning of the band touring in support of Kill the Flaw, the stage shows have been raved as some of the best of their career, The PlayStation Theatre show being no different. The current tour continues through May 29th including spots on festivals such as Rock On The Range, Rock’n Derby, and Rocklahoma, so do not waste anytime to get out there and see them.