Atlanta based rockers Sevendust stormed the stage and shook the foundations of the historic Cain’s Ballroom, ramping up the heart rates of young and old fans alike. A diverse crowd of fans welcomed the band back to Tulsa for a night of head-banging, fist-pumping, raging rock and roll.
Sevendust’s line-up includes guitarists John Connolly and Clint Lowery, vocalist Lajon Witherspoon, bassist Vincent Hornsby and percussionist Morgan Rose and they have a natural chemistry that comes alive onstage. The band’s interactions with the audience and each other gave the show the atmosphere of a house party hosted by the coolest guys on the block. Bassist Hornsby and front man Witherspoon kept the crowd pumped thoughout their set, constantly prodding them on with powerful jams and showmanship through the night.
With Los Angeles band Gemini Syndrome opening the show featuring front man Aaron Nordstrom, who looks like what I think mythological god Odin would look like with a guitar slung low, the night kicked off to a hard driving rumble. The bands graciously gave us a nice long smoke break between sets and I took the opportunity to stroll around the concert hall, taking in all the history and also admiring the renovations and additions to a true Tulsa icon. Some of the greatest musicians in the world have played at Cain’s Ballroom and the well used juke joint is adorned with signed artwork and concert bills from some of those great names. I am somewhat embarrassed to admit that my visit to Cain’s to witness the power of Sevendust and their angry jams was the first time I have been to the hall. I was not disappointed. I could truly feel the energy of the tens of thousands of shows that have played there over the years.
As the theme from Jaws played to the darkened crowd and the strains of a solo acoustic guitar filled the room, suddenly the lights came up with Sevendust ready to bring the noise. The band whipped the crowd into a frenzy with the machine gun guitar riffs of the opening number “Pieces” and I immediately got absorbed into the mosh pit.
So it’s pretty hard to type notes on your phone while you’re being assailed by elbows and stiff arms and I had to relocate myself to a more stable vantage point. It wasn’t easy since the crowd was fully absorbed in the experience, dancing, jumping and smashing into each other joyously (okay, you could tell there was some suppressed rage in there too). Witherspoon asked the crowd “Are you happy to see us tonight?”, and there was no verbal answer needed but the crowd gave a huge roar anyway.
The band played cuts from last year’s Black Out The Sun, 2003′s Seasons, 2001′s Animosity and Cold Day Memory. The big hits of the night were “Til Death” and “Decay” from Black Out The Sun and “Karma” from 2010′s Cold Day Memory. “Karma” was my favorite song of the set, probably because it was the most melodic of all the songs performed.
Although the production values of the show were sternly spartan it was apparent that the passion and the power of the band was the focus of the concert. The band constantly involved the crowd in their performances, gesturing, beckoning and posing while the fans captured their own memories through their personal digital media.
At one point I swear that drummer Morgan Rose covertly played his high-hat with his head but he did it so quickly I thought maybe I just imagined it. Regardless, the band was not short on stage presence and you could tell that after hundreds of shows they were totally into their own special groove. You could see that they are living their dream and the crowd was living that dream with them that night.
During the encore, Gemini Syndrome front man Nordstrom joined Sevendust on stage to finish the show with “Splinter” from Cold Day Memory before we all wandered out into the night to recover from the sonic assault that is Sevendust. by Rob Crupper