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By Travis Failey, Planet Earth Contributor
Wednesday, January 11, 2017 @ 11:38 AM

New Year's Eve At The House Of Blues

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All Photos By Travis Failey/Rocket Sports & Entertainment

After an amazing year of concerts, I asked myself, “What would be the perfect way to end 2016?” For me, the easy answer was spending New Year’s Eve with Sevendust and Red Sun Rising. This was the second year that Sevendust and Red Sun Rising played New Year’s Eve at Orlando’s House of Blues. I missed the show last year due to illness but refused to miss this pairing again this year. Although I’ve seen Sevendust more times that I can remember, and Red Sun Rising last year at Fort Rock, I thought that the lineup was a perfect combination of the seasoned SEVENDUST, and the 2016 breakout group, RED SUN RISING. I also thought that it would make for a mixed crowd of Gen Xers and Millennials, and I wasn’t wrong. We saw rockers from age 7 to 70, with many parents bringing their kids to their first concert.

The House of Blues was filled to the rafters with excited partygoers. You could feel the energy building, and by show time, the place was electric. After an opening performance by SOULSWITCH, Akron, Ohio’s RED SUN RISING broke out with its smash hit, “Emotionless”.

Vocalist Mike Protish’s voice was in top shape with his smooth and crisp soulful vocals that cut through the rafters of the House of Blues. In the age of clean vocals combined with various tones that the cookie monster might make, Protish and others like SIXX: A.M’s James Michael and NOTHING MORE’s Jonny Hawkins are anomalies these days. RED SUN RISING followed up “Emotionless” with a cover of Alanis Morrisette’s “Uninvited”. It seemed like an odd addition but they have been playing it live throughout the tour and the crowd seemed into it.

The bearded five-piece then got the crowd jumping with “The Otherside” and their latest hit, “Amnesia”. Both “The Otherside” and “Emotionless” reached No. 1 on the Mainstream Rock chart, while “Amnesia” peaked at No. 8.

While each of the band members stood out on their own, especially guitarist Ryan Williams and drummer Pat Gerasia, combined they are a cohesive unit of hit makers. I found it interesting that RED SUN RISING ended their set with “Blister” from Polyester Zeal instead of one of their radio releases or another cover. It felt like their set was abruptly shortened.

After a year of constant touring of clubs and the festival circuit, RED SUN RISING has gained a solid fan base and palpable momentum. But they need to release another single and maybe even get back in the studio so they can continue to build on the momentum that the band achieved in 2016.

SEVENDUST took the stage at 11:20 and rocked the House until the wee hours of January 1, 2017. SEVENDUST treated the crowd with material that spanned through the years. I’ll never forget when I saw SEVENDUST for the first time at Ozzfest 1998 at the Coral Sky Amphitheatre in West Palm Beach. They were my favorite new band that year and I couldn’t wait to go home and get SEVENDUST’s self-titled debut album, which included “Black”, “Bitch”, “Too Close to Hate” and . Surprisingly, none of these songs made the set tonight.

SEVENDUST opened with “Pieces” from their Next release and the crowd was off and bouncing. My personal favorite, “Face To Face” was the catalyst for the crowd surfing to begin. There was also some moshing throughout their set. Disney frowns on both, but tonight, security let some things slide, especially the surfing. The drinks were flowing more than usual due to the holiday, and some were a bit rowdy, but security was on it and handled everyone respectfully and professionally.

Lead singer, Lajon Witherspoon, never fails to disappoint, and tonight was no exception. While I know it’s difficult to believe, SEVENDUST still showcases the original members who formed the band in 1994. Just watching Morgan Rose on the skins is worth the price of admission. Rose clearly gives his all, and he looks like he couldn’t have any more fun doing it.

The “Octopus” as he is affectionately referred to in the music community, is also the backbone of SEVENDUST’s vocal harmonies. SEVENDUST stands tall with some of the great bands of the past in regard to their harmonies, and they are one of the reasons that Sevendust have achieved longevity in the industry known for one hit wonders.

SEVENDUST’s set was high energy throughout except during “Angel’s Son”, which Lajon dedicated to one of his friend’s mother who recently passed away. “Angel’s Son” was originally written as a tribute to Lynn Strait, a close friend and the lead singer from SNOT. Other notable songs include, “Enemy”, “Waffle”, “Decay” and a slowed-down version of “Denial”. As midnight struck, confetti fell and covered the House of Blues from the ceiling to the floor, while Lajon and the crowd toasted in 2017.

Lajon also informed the crowd that the band was signed to a new record deal and that the band would be back in the studio with their follow up to Kill The Flaw.

Lajon thanked the crowd and SEVENDUST ended the night by bringing RED SUN’s guitarists Ryan Willams and Dave McGarry“Thank You”.

WJRR’s Big Friggin’ Eve with SEVENDUST, RED SUN RISING and SOULSWITCH was the perfect way to end an eventful 2016 year in music and jumpstart into 2017. Now all we have to do is wait another 365 days to see if SEVENDUST will again return to drop the ball in Disney in 2018.

Check out some more photos from the show!
All Photos By Travis Failey/Rocket Sports & Entertainment

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