Stone Sour, Sevendust, 36 Crazy Fists @ Festival Hall, Melbourne (02/03/11)

www.fasterlouder.com.auThe promoters of Soundwave 2011 have only one dilemma on their hands – with such a plethora of popular and accomplished acts, how does one fit all the Sidewaves into a week for each city? Simple answer: double and triple bills. Wednesday saw Festival Hall host a pretty huge night of metal, starting with 36 Crazy Fists, nu-metal favourites Sevendust, and Stone Sour (Corey Taylor from Slipknot’s “other band”).

Although Alaskan metallers 36 Crazy Fists’ sound is very much on the “harder” edge of metal (as opposed to headliners, Stone Sour) their onstage demeanour is much the opposite, which creates a very fun atmosphere and provides a perfect “warm-up” act. Unfortunately for these guys and their fans, their set was short and sweet, but they’ll get another chance to show what they’re made of when they play Soundwave in the next few days.

Next up on the bill were veterans Sevendust. Call them progressive metal, hell even call them nu-metal, there is no denying these guys are consummate professionals. Having been around for over 15 years, Sevendust have honed their skills perfectly, and remain one of the tightest bands going around at the moment. All but one member of the band takes up vocal duties at some point in time, and this gives their songs a wonderful layering, particularly live.

Almost every album from Sevendust’s extensive career got all look in at some point in time, with the older material obviously getting the greatest reaction from the crowd. Black from their self-titled debut was a winner, but it was perhaps the tracks played from their breakout album Home such as Denial, that garnered the greatest response from the very enthusiastic audience. Sevendust teased the crowd at one point with the opening bars of Pantera’s Walk, but unfortunately didn’t go through with the tease, however there were plenty of old-school tunes of their own to soften the blow of that disappointment.

Sevendust were the highlight of an evening of impressive live music. Lajon Witherspoon’s vocals were huge – never missing a note, and always clearly audible above the music. Drummer Morgan Rose’s plaited hair stood on end for pretty much the entire set, constantly twirling his sticks and flinging them into the crowd. He hits his skins hard, and also provides some of the best backing vocals you will ever hear at a metal gig – especially from a drummer.

The love between Sevendust and the crowd – both ways – was great to see, as these guys never quite got the respect they deserved, partially due to line-up changes and a couple of weaker albums within their catalogue, but with the return of bassist Clint Lowry after a brief hiatus, they have once again hit their musical-stride.

Then came headliners, and genre-blurrers, Stone Sour. To say Sevendust were the highlight of the evening is not so much selling Stone Sour short, as it is talking Sevendust up, as these guys would have more than held their own against most other bands. Corey Taylor is an extremely charismatic frontman, given the opportunity to get out from behind his mask (Slipknot, remember?), and he constantly interacted with the crowd throughout the set.

Stone Sour really do blur the lines between heavy metal and softer ballads, and this is somewhat an achievement to pull off at a metal gig in itself. The band’s latest album, Audio Secrecy, was given the most time throughout this set, which is obviously understandable, but it was the material from their second album, Come What(ever) May, which had the fans bouncing the most. Songs such as Made of Scars and the beautiful and almost poppy Through Glass were highlights of the set.

Taylor’s ability to hold up the vocal duties all on his lonesome (his was the only mic on the stage) was impressive in itself, but his ability to also grab a guitar and croon to Stone Sour’s softer tracks was something to behold. His interaction with the audience was also very entertaining and amusing – at one stage a very “ample” sized bra was flung on stage much to the mirth of the band. When asked whose it was, a female to the front of the stage and owned up, and also divulged that she had named her child Corey after the frontman. This led to Taylor thanking her kindly, and also expressing his envy at the breastfed child. There was also a moment during the encore when the band stopped and implored everyone to separate down the middle of the mosh-pit, hinting at the old metal favourite “the wall of death”, however it was not to be as Taylor requested a “wall of dance” instead, whereby whoever wanted was to enter the gap and do “the stupidest dance they could think of”, this was pretty short lived as the band jumped into the next number, but just exemplified the good-time nature of Stone Sour’s set.

The band finished up with the very energetic 30/30-150, which was the perfect closer as it is possibly the band’s heaviest track, and allowed the audience to get that last bit of energy out of their systems before making their journeys home. To say the Stone Sour fans in attendance were treated to a night of awesome live tunes would be an understatement. This is even further proof that this year’s Soundwave lineup is of even more epic proportions to that of previous years – and to all those people attending the festival… good luck working out your clashes.

 

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