On a otherwise normal Wednesday night, February 13th was alive with electricity down in Huntington village as The Paramount prepared to host a tremendous night of Rock bliss with Sevendust and special guest Tremonti. No strangers to Rock radio world in the New York area, this Valentine’s Day Eve performance marked the first time Sevendust would grace a Long Island stage since the band played The Space at Westbury in June of 2017. The only question remaining – were Long Island Hard Rock fans ready?
Going back even further, to the mid 1990s, Sevendust remains one of the most enduring acts in Rock. Furthermore, while so many bands have seen their share of line-up changes, Sevendust has remained iron clad as Vocalist Lajon Witherspoon, Drummer Morgan Rose, Bassist Vince Hornsby, along with Guitarists Clint Lowery and John Connolly, all rocking as a tight knit unit from the very beginning. Then on May 11, 2018, Sevendust released their twelfth LP, All I See Is War, a finely-polished piece of Rock music showcasing Sevendust’s primal ability for writing well-crafted, relevant music fueled by substance.
In addition to the double main attraction, the show was set to be opened by three impressive up-and-coming acts, setting the bill at five bands total. To accommodate a full night of loud Rock music, the show was scheduled for an earlier than usual start time of 6:00 pm. That did not stop many fans from getting out of work a little early to head down to the venue in order to catch the action from the very first note.
That in mind, the first band to hit the stage were Hard Rockers Kirra, out of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Consisting of Gabriel Parson (vocals), Daxton Page (guitar), Ryne McNeill (bass), and Zach Stafford (drums), Kirra spent a portion of 2018 touring with Grammy-nominated band Nothing More. Looking to Wednesday night, both the band and crowd were ready to open with a bang as Kirra put the pedal to the floor with a brash set of dynamic Rock that included “My Disease” and a new track called “Sixteen Suns.”
Next up, Lullwater is a Rock-n-Roll quartet from Athens, Georgia, formed in 2007. Members John Strickland (lead vocals/rhythm guitar), Daniel Binnie (lead guitar), Roy “Ray” Beatty (bass), and Joe Wilson (drums) have shared the stage with notable acts like Candlebox and Butcher Babies. A rousing performance, Lullwater offer a slightly modernized version of mid-1990’s Grungy/Alternative riffs of emotional Hard Rock; imagine the emotive vocals of Puddle of Mudd meeting the dark patterns of Alice In Chains. Really riling up the crowd, Lullwater brought down the house with a highly rocking and pleasing set of music that included their latest single “Empty Chamber” off their brand new album Voodoo. Overall, Lullwater is a band on the rise and certainly worth checking out.
Rounding out the trio of initial opening acts, Cane Hill – Vocalist Elijah Witt, Guitarist James Barnett, Bassist Ryan Henriquez, and Drummer Devin Clark – are a Louisiana bayou-based Heavy Metal band straight out of New Orleans. Musically, Cane Hill’s dark melodic/hypnotic sounds can best be described as Alternative Metal with a touch of Goth, similar to Motionless In White. Providing a heavy dose of Shock Rock to a now packed venue, Cane Hill gifted an engaging and raw set that featured their heaviest single “Too Far Gone.” The darkest of the first three acts, Cane Hill pleased the Long Island crowd and really warmed things up for two heavy hitters.
Feeding direct support to the anticipated headliner, Tremonti was ready to provide the first in a double shot of Rock glory. That said, guitar slayer Mark Tremonti is on the heels of his solo venture’s powerful new concept album, A Dying Machine, released back in June 2018. Topping the charts, Tremonti has noted A Dying Machine represents his best work yet. Mark Tremonti himself fronts the band as guitarist and vocalist while he is joined on stage by three more stellar musicians – Guitarist Eric Friedman, Bassist Tanner Keegan, and Drummer Ryan Bennett. A loud and loosened up crowd on hand, as the time arrived for Tremonti to slaughter the stage The Paramount was christened with its biggest buzz of the night.
As the band appeared, Long Island showed their praise via a rousing ovation before Tremonti kicked right into the arresting first number “Cauterize.” A powerful mix of energy, Tremonti was on fire upon the next two songs – “You Waste Your Time” and “Another Heart.” Perhaps the most intriguing thing about the music of Tremonti, the band doesn’t dish out one-sided songs that either rock with no lyrical substance or contain good lyrics but lack dynamics musically. What you get with Tremonti is super strong lyrics sang with passion over incredibly stirring and aggressive Metal riffs. That said, the previous statement was evident on The Paramount stage as members of Tremonti put their all into the next tracks “The Things I’ve Seen,” “Flying Monkeys,” and a new cut, “Bringer of War.”
Taking on more new material, Tremonti tore up the stage with the blistering single “Throw Them To The Lions,” which heavily showcased the guitar chops of both Mark Tremonti and Eric Freidman who are masters on the ax. Nearing the end of a killer set, Tremonti surged with the saga of “A Dying Machine” before capping their performance via the cynical essence of “Wish You Well.” By the end of the final note, everyone in the place was feeling great after a tremendous set by Tremonti. Nothing but pure heavy Rock, Tremonti laid the ground work for the main event by gifting plenty of classic songs alongside new tracks that rang like bombs going off on stage. For any fan of Hard Rock/Heavy Metal, catching Tremonti live is a highly recommended experience.
For a hump day show, The Paramount was bursting at the seams, packed with wall to wall fans who wanted nothing more than to witness a red-hot performance by the guys in Sevendust. Ask and you shall receive, following AC/DC’s “Shoot To Thrill,” the electricity was at a pure climax. Once the house lights went out, only smoke and a hint of stage lighting remained to illuminate the scenery. Then, the crowd went nuts to see the band walk on stage to a familiar sound effect that would soon burst into song. In the darkness, Lajon Witherspoon shouted “Are You Ready?” into the mic as the band stepped on the gas and detonated into an early favorite, and the band’s first hit, “Black.” Sounding utterly dominant, Sevendust were on fire from the start and refused to let up for the next hour plus.
Lighting up The Paramount stage, Sevendust poured undeniable aggression into “Pieces” and a creeping version of “Reconnect.” Still early on, Sevendust had the crowd in the palm of their hands as the band sounded better than ever. Dishing out a crowd pleaser, “Praise” received high acclaim as did the bitter and callous sing-along of “Trust,” followed by a lively rendition of “Enemy” that blew the roof off the theater. Surprisingly, Sevendust only offered one new song from All I See Is War, but it was a great one in “Dirty.” Later, in pure candor, Lajon Witherspoon would somberly dedicate “Angel’s Son” to a friend who tragically passed away in a motorcycle accident just one month ago. It was a sobering experience to see the vocalist flooded with emotion as he bravely belted out each and every syllable while taking his time away from the mic to collect himself.
A whirlwind set, Sevendust ushered in the encore by egging the crowd on to chant “Sevendust has arrived!” over and over. Then, the band broke off into “Splinter” before ending the night with a contentious number in “Face To Face.” Wow, what a night of unadulterated, intense Rock from some of the best in the business! For what it’s worth, Sevendust delivered a bold and memorable performance that will stick in the minds of Long Island fans for years to come. From start to finish, the entire band was all over the stage engaging with the crowd amongst smoke and lights. If you are a fan of Sevendust and somehow have yet to check out the band live, do not miss out on a truly worthy performance that is impossible not to love!
That all in mind, the second leg of Sevendust’s North American tour will be around for a a bit longer, through late May. So, get your tickets while supplies last, and then you can tell all your friends how amazing Sevendust are up close and personal.
Photo credit: Andrew Fiero Photography