Ladies Get Out of Jail Free Tour
Black Light Burns
Oct. 23rd, the Venue @ Playmakers, Fargo ND
Disclaimer: This review may be a little biased as I am an avid Sevendust fan. That said, if they sucked, I would mention it.
Let me first say that Fargo has a wonderful venue aptly named "The Venue" at Playmakers Pavilion. It is an all ages room with a balcony for drinkers (licensed upstairs, not all ages) that is attached to a bar. What this means is that anyone can go, and those who want to still have the option of drinking. Much like the exchange, but on a larger scale. So off the bat, the set up at The Venue is a recipe for success, it is the perfect size to draw medium sized acts looking for stops on their tours (Into Eternity take note if you have any chance of influencing where your next tour takes you. If so PLEASE suggest this place, I would see you there in a heartbeat). Size and set up are already great for herding fans, that puts this venue in with the "competent/enjoyable" grouping when it comes to live music venues. What bumps them up to the next level is sound. The sound system there is fantastic, and whoever I've seen running it in my 3 concerts there knows how to operate. I can count the occasions I've heard better live sound on one hand. ROAD TRIPPERS TIP, if you ever consider a show in Fargo at this venue, know that it kicks all kinds of ass.
On to the show itself. Doors opened right around 8, as scheduled, first band was on right around 8:30, as scheduled. I like, I like. I discovered afterward that Black Light Burns did not make this venue do to vehicle problems, which is too bad, I'd have been interested to see them.
Neverset opened. Never heard of this band before, didn't research them, I pretty well just made my best judgement based on the way they looked in their press photo. What they presented was close, albeit a little different than what I expected. I thought emo-core/fashioncore et al, what I got was some of that, but also some rap-metal influence. Kind of like a rapmetalcore. It wasn't bad, they were high energy and the sound was good. You could tell they didn't have the crowd with their own music, but they knew how to work a crowd that isn't theirs. Inciting excitement by throwing out headlining bands' names was a big win for them, as well as playing an interesting collage of cover tunes that they did somewhat well. From Motley Crue to Rage to Papa Roach, they did a roughly 90 second tribute to their influences that was pulled off well. I would see them if they were on a show here sometime, but I wouldn't go just for them.
10 Years came up next, and I was looking forward to them. I've been trying to describe them and for the life of me have been unable. The closest I can come up with is some bastard child of Tool and Incubus. Kind of nu-metal influenced, heavy and slow, vocally clear and very opinionated. They played what seemed like a relatively short set. The music was dead on, and they rolled through some of their previously released tunes before testing new stuff on the crowd. I'd say the reactions were mixed, but overall good. Again, sound was top notch for them, you could hear vocals real well, there was the odd mistake and off key note that stuck out like a sore thumb as well. The thorn of good sound I suppose. The band finished the set predictably with their biggest song "Wasteland" which they did exceptionally well, especially towards the end. I was very pleased with their set. I would see them if they headlined here.
Which brings us to the main course. As per my disclaimer, I've been a fan of Sevendust since '99 I believe. I still remember the first song I heard of theirs (Fall) on the Scream 3 soundtrack. I also remember going out and buying "Home" despite that track not being on there. And finally, remember that being the first album I bought blind and was rewarded big time with. Out of the 3 times I've had the privilege of seeing Sevendust this year, I'd say this concert was ranked #2, but only because the first was so amazing.
They came out firing with Crucified, which I was very surprised with (I love that tune). Lajon's (Witherspoon - singer)
vocals were good, although for some reason the vocals weren't prominent during their set (maybe it was where I was standing). The one thing that gets me about a Sevendust set is that they hit everything with pinpoint accuracy, right down to every note they play on the album. Every member is talented, they can all sing even though the majority of vocal work is handled by Lajon and Morgan (drums). Another surprise was the amount of material they played off their self titled debut disc. Prayer, Terminator, Black (they didn't do Bitch which was easily their biggest song from that album) and one more that I can't remember. They only did a few from their latest album, and notably absent was "Driven" which is their recent single. They did Praise though, as well as Enemy and Face 2 Face, two very excellent "fuck you" songs.
Hats off to the band for playing as well as they did in a half full venue. A lesser band wouldn't have brought it the same way with a crowd as sparse as it was. They still talked to the crowd, they still kicked the crowd's ass as hard as they could. They still brought the show, and promised to bring it back seeing that the moderate crowd still went nuts for them. Hell they even mentioned that some people came from Canada to see them. This band still keeps it real despite the success it has had, which is another kudos. The guitar trio of Sonny, Vince and John played bang on and still kept the crowd entertained. None of that head down ignore the people style of playing. Everything was very interactive and give/take as live shows are intended.
As mentioned, the live show recreates the CD experience so well that it's almost spooky. They pay attention to the little things, with the help of technology I'm sure. Morgan does a lot of screaming that has some sort of modification on it, and it sound exactly the same way. Without those little things, this show would probably be 2/3's as good. It's the attention to detail that puts them over the top. In my very few years of seeing live shows, I've seen a lot of outstanding performances, Sevendust has got to be in the top 5. Without the perfection that I'm sure they strive to achieve, they would not be.
On a final note, Morgan Rose has got to be one of the best drummers in all of hard rock. He is an exceptional and precise drummer who also happens to be a very good singer/screamer, and exciting to watch live. On top of that, he also happens to be quite down to earth and a very nice guy. From what I've got out of 2 meetings with this band, the rest of them are much the same. I look forward to seeing them again, hopefully in Canada this time!
All in all, a great concert experience, and I would encourage anyone who is interested to either a) go to a Sevendust show or b) go to a show at The Venue @ Playmakers in Fargo.