Live Gig Review and Photos by: Zenae Zukowski
I have lost count how many times I had seen Sevendust live where I still have my Sevendust “South Park” T-shirt from back in 2007 when they used to play in Orlando Florida at the House Of Blues on New Year’s Eve. I have been hooked with their music since the self-titled 1997 debut and continue to listen to their classic hits such as “Black” and “Bitch.” When the North American tour was announced in support of their latest album ‘Kill the Flaw,’ I knew I could not miss a Sevendust show. This time around they brought acts Trivium, Like A Storm and Westfield Massacre for direct support and on May 3rd, they landed in the heart of New York City in Times Square at the Playstation Theater.
Starting the evening was Tommy Vext’s latest project, Westfield Massacre. The self-titled album recently released on April 29th, 2016 as they introduced most of it to the crowd that evening. The movement was fierce from all members including Ira Black (guitar), Stephen Brewer (guitar) Erik Tisinger (bass) and Dio Britto (drums). As the set moved in with “Darkness Divides,” “Respect Resistance,” and “Build Your Thrones,” I was a bit surprised when a familiar classic Grunge sound was heard with the Nirvana cover of “Heart Shaped Box.” I enjoyed their momentum as they closed their set with “Underneath the Skin.” Shortly after this performance, they headlined their own show at the Brooklyn’s intimate Lucky 13’s. I am sure they will be back around again soon.
Next up were Hard Rockers Like a Storm. Originally formed in 2005 by brothers Chris, Matt and Kent Brooks out in New Zealand. I have always admired their ambition as they moved to North America without knowing anyone nor how successful their career would grow. I have seen them quite a few times already, and this night it was filled with skulls, percussion, and Didgeridoo. Continuing to support 2015’s ‘Awaken the Fire’ as they opened their set with “Chaos.” During the next “Six Feet Under,” Chris jumped into the photo pit area, stood on the barricade and sung directly towards the fans. I noticed a couple taking a selfie instead of Chris standing directly in front of them and could not stop laughing about that. Meanwhile, the rest of the crowd enjoyed Chris’ direct engagement. The set moved the venue back to the mid-nineties as they went into the Coolio cover of “Gangsta’s Paradise.” After the crowd sung along to this track, the band took a jam-instrumental where it was between drummer Zach Wood and the Didgeridoo. After this medley, the set continued with “Become the Enemy,” “Wish You Hell” and closed with “Love the Way You Hate Me.” Like a Storm will return to North America shortly after as they will be touring with Hinder throughout the summer.
Next up were Orlando Florida Metallers, Trivium as they continue to support their seventh studio album 2015’s Silence in the Snow. Surprisingly, Matt Heafy (guitar/lead vocals), Corey Beaulieu (guitar/vocals), Paolo Gregoletto (bass/vocals) and Paul Wandtke (drums) were there to play a near full headlining set, or so it seemed. Frontman Heavy continued to converse with the crowd as he wanted to gather massive circle pits and have all Metalheads join that night. The set included tracks “Strife” from 2013’s ‘Vengeance Falls,’ “Rain” from ‘Ascendancy (2005), “Built to Fall” from ‘In Waves (2011),’ and “Requiem” from 2003’s self-titled debut EP. They performed newer songs as well such as “Dead and Gone” and “Until the World Goes Cold.” Trivium demonstrates an honor to the Metal scene as the night included an encore of “In Waves” followed by an outro recording to remember the late Lemmy from Motörhead with “Ace of Spades.” Trivium will be hitting overseas shortly after the tour runs up as they will head for a European trek.
Finally it was time for the Atlanta, Georgia Alternative Metallers Sevendust to own the Playstation Theater. They have never disappointed me once when seeing them live and this night was no different despite the strict curfew the venue had. A large white curtain was hanging above the stage as the band walked on and performed most of “Not Today” from Kill the Flaw from behind. Finally the curtain dropped, and everyone saw Lajon Witherspoon (lead vocals), Clint Lowery (guitar/vocals), Morgan Rose (drums/vocals), John Connolly (guitar/vocals) and Vince Hornsby (bass) take the stage. What an energetic and packed crowd as fans sung to every single song including the classic “Home” from 1999’s Home to “Face to Face” from 2003’s Seasons, to “Hero” and “Ugly” from 2005’s Next. It wasn’t too long ago when the acoustic album ‘Time Travelers & Bonfires’ was released back in 2014, and on this evening they went into “Denial” with acoustics. Electric gear came on once again during “Disease” and circle pits; crowd surfers continued to fly.
It was at this point when I was reminded how powerful music is, as songs remind me of a particular time of my life and people. It moves in a way as no matter how much time and life changes, the song from a particular moment is still present. This unique presence keeps certain memories alive, and this happened to me when they went into “Dead Set” from 2001’s Animosity. The emotions continued when Lajon dedicated the next track “Angel’s Son” to the late Prince. What I loved about this moment is, Lajon is a genuine heartfelt guy, and I could have sworn I saw him holding back on tears during the song introduction. He mentioned how the loss of Prince surprised him so much, including all of the deaths that has been happening lately to legendary musicians. He wanted everyone to raise a light, phone and gathered all to interact to “Angel’s Son” where the stage lights even turned purple to add to the moment.
The set moved into the newer piece “Death Dance” and swayed back into the older classic of “Waffle” which I can never get tired hearing that song. As the time was winding down, they rushed into “Enemy” followed by closing the set dedicated to their fans, which was also their first Grammy nominated the song, “Thank You.” I remember standing there waiting for an encore, and sadly this night there wasn’t. I believe it was due to a strict curfew the venue has where if given the chance they would have played at least “Black” off of their debut album. With that said, Sevendust continued to give it their all because Lajon himself is known to never disappoint his fans. I am sure they will be back soon enough, I can never get tired of them.