Sevendust Live in NY & NJ

By Mick Stingley, Contributor
Saturday, December 21, 2002 @ 10:16 PM

Sevendust, Closure, Cinder & 3

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The line-up for this leg of the tour, from the opening act, was:
“30 Seconds To Mars”
I saw the Sevendust shows in New York City and Seabright, New Jersey within a couple of days of each other. The NYC show was great, but Sevendust in Jersey was flat-out amazing. Rather than do two separate reviews - I have broken down the two into one to highlight the best of what I saw.

Not bad for an opening act. Four piece, with singer who also plays guitar. Sounds like a less annoying Scott Stapp fronting a good bar band. The singer seems to want to break free of playing guitar to just roam around stage: but he carries it off decently. The music is good, and there is a guy working the crowd handing out 2-song samplers from their forthcoming TVT debut, which comes out next spring... The songs aren’t bad, but I would like to hear more before I shell out $20. They seem pretty psyched to be playing, which is always refreshing.

…is the surprise of the evening. This Ft. Myers based 4-piece owned the stage at The World for about half an hour. Between the psychotic, head-twisting bassist, and the roaring of the singer- not the biggest guy on the block, but man, what a voice! – these guys played like it was the show of their lives. Great rockin catchy songs. No rap-rock garbage. No pretense. Just good music. The singer is all over the stage. People are digging it. Hard to dispute, that, of the three opening acts, They easily walked away with the show.
I snaked a set list when they were done:
Please God
Peep Show
Whistling Pete
Soul Creation
Outta You
The first one was a hell of an opener; the last three fucking slay. The closer “Outta You”, has a great chorus that goes, “I’ve had enough outta you, yeah! I’ve had enough!” Sounds better than it reads. The one that stands out from the rest, for me, as I recall it, was “Peep Show”. These guys were tossing out 2-song samplers during the set. Evidently they also have a new CD, on Geffen, coming in Spring.. “Soul Creation” should make radio and generate a few speeding tickets for listeners who play this in their cars. Keep your eyes on the road and check out Cinder.

“30 Seconds To Mars”
…played 30 minutes too long. The singer acts like the band’s name is “30 Seconds To Pose” and as far as destinations go- they never get off the ground. 30STM has generated a lot of interest for having actor Jared Leto as a frontman. The singer’s notoriety notwithstanding, the band is tight: but the music is mired in stunning mediocrity, and the band is overshadowed by the singer’s looks and undone by his weakness as a musical performer. I’m sure he gets the chicks, though: they were digging it big-time. “Capricorn” is okay. Whatever. 30 seconds into the set is 30 reasons to leave.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- “SEVENDUST”
Seabright, New Jersey is only about an hour and a half from NYC, even in regular traffic. This day, there was a freak ‘Nor’easter” that rained buckets and flooded the area around exit 31. My date and I sat in traffic for FIVE HOURS, with a full-on commitment to seeing more of this incredible band. You never know how long you are going to sit in traffic when so focused on getting where you are going, but in retrospect, it’s a wonder we didn’t bail. FIVE HOURS. When Springsteen sang about the highway being “jammed”, I wonder if he wasn’t just going for something as banal as this. Unreal. Still, it was worth it. And I would do it again. The Tradewinds is on the beach on the Jersey Shore; but it wouldn’t be out of place in California or Florida. A rock club, right on the beach, flanked by parking lots. Tonight, in addition to crummy weather, there were PA problems. Evidently, the crowd was kept waiting outside the club for quite a while before things were sorted out. Given how fucking miserable and cold it was when I arrived, It is a testament to how much people love Sevendust that they would endure so much. Once things were fixed, I understand, it was getting pretty late; “Closure” and “Cinder” got bumped and “30 Seconds To Mars” played. The word is, 30STM was not well-received. We got in around 10:30 and Sevendust was setting up. The Tradewinds was packed. PACKED. It’s a pretty big club, and still, it was hard to move.

Recently, during the Sevendust tour, the singer, Lajon Witherspoon, learned that his little brother had been shot and killed. That they have pretty much hung in there and continued to tour in the face of personal tragedy is the subject of many conversations as my date and I float around to get a good spot. It’s quite surreal, passing from one gang to the next, trying not to spill people’s beers or step on toes as we search for that one spot…that’s pretty much what you hear. Maybe I am exaggerating- but it did seem that way throughout the night.

When the lights went down, the cheers were deafening. It was an amazing moment. Part of it was plain-old enthusiasm; part of it was pent-up anticipation. Lights came from behind the band members, so you couldn’t see them at first- then, after a gracious nod to those who were kept waiting, Sevendust raged. They blitzed the crowd with their unique tones and grooves and Lajon proved himself every inch a rockstar. You could feel the floor shake, which is exciting, but in this day and age, somewhat unsettling, as you might expect the whole damn place to collapse. From the few shows I have seen in New Jersey, I have to say, Jersey (rock) crowds can do circles around us pain-in-the-ass stuck-up New Yorkers. Sevendust laid bricks of rock to form a wall of sound that was fucking impenetrable. The set cruised with the same rush of exhilaration you get once you break free of a traffic jam and hit the gas…

(Set list as I recall it, pretty much the same as the NY show)

"Prayer" (?)
"Xmas Day"
"Angel's Son" (with dedication to his late brother, Lajon didn’t even have to sing as the crowd was drowning him out…nice).

The encore that followed was a masterful jam of cover tunes as Sevendust’s way of thanking the crowd for hanging in through the night’s problems. A medley of things from Pantera (“Walk”) to some early Metallica riffing to some Randy Rhoads, Skynyrd’s “Sweet Home Alabama” (which re-ignited the mosh pit); a little Van Halen quote- and then into the most requested song of the night- "Bitch".

The show ends with Lajon, and the guys shaking hands, throwing picks and every last drumstick to the crowd. I didn’t want them to stop playing. I would have hung out later to hear these guys do the whole damn set again, and I would not have been the only one. It seems to me that Sevendust is a contender for the best live rock acts around. I wonder if they will ever get that ONE radio song…given their boundless energy and enthusiasm -and genuine love of the fans- one would think that, should they elect to do so, a crossover hit might not be all that far away. Sevendust might just be on the cusp of something greater than they know.

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