May 1, 2011

Concert Review: Welcome to the Family w/ Avenged Sevenfold, Three Days Grace, Sevendust (4/30/11, Times Union Center Albany, NY)

It was a couple of months back when a friend asked ominously "Want to go to a concert?" Of course I was interested, then he told who was playing and I was definitely in. It sounded like a good time for live music. Avenged Sevenfold and Sevendust? You can consider that a winning combo. Toss in Three Days Grace for a little bonus material and now you have a show. It's been a few years since I have seen either A7X or Sevendust and I was definitely interested in seeing them again.

The day of the show came and we set out on the 85 mile drive up to the Times Union Center in Albany, NY. We headed out early in the day so we could make sure we knew where we were going and would have time to relax a little before heading inside. We made it in decent time and after a little roundabout driving found our way to the parking garage. All right, with that our of the way, time to find a place to eat. It only took a few minutes before we happened across Broadway Joe's restaurant and bar. The place had nice atmosphere and there were only a few other people there, not crowded at all. Nice.

A few drinks and a burger later, we made our way back to where the line was forming. I will admit to being a little buzzed, helped make the time waiting in line go quicker. Of course communication on the line was a bit lax and after waiting an hour we were finally told we were in the wrong line. We were in the GA line and we needed to be around front and up a flight of stairs for the main entrance. As we waited in our new line I saw someone sporting an Overkill shirt, which I liked very much, the only thing that could have made that better would have been for it to be the "Get Your Own F--king Logo" shirt.

We got inside and found what we thought were our seats before some one woman came and kicked us out. Turns out our seats were actually closer to the floor. We may have been towards the rear of the arena, but we were four rows up from the floor with a great view of the stage.

First up was Sevendust. I have seen these guys a few times before and they never fail to deliver. Seriously, these guys are machines. This is the first time I have seen them outside of the small club setting, so while I have seen them before, this offered a new look at the band. Let me say they continue their streak of not disappointing. As a matter of fact, I am not sure I have heard them sound any better. They were absolutely thunderous. What makes their performance a little sad is that it seemed to take the crowd a long time to warm up to them, I mean come on, this is SEVENDUST! These guys rock and have been doing it for a long time.

Lajon Witherspoon was on point leading the band through cuts like "Praise," "Black," and "Strong Arm Broken." He was all over the stage doing his best to get everyone into it. However, as good as good as he sounded, I have to point out Morgan Rose on drums. Talk about a maniac, the guy was like Animal on the kit, precise, wild, and putting on a show all by himself. I really could not get over how good they sounded. They were big, heavy and did not miss anything. They sound like they could do this for another twenty years.

Set List:
1. Splinter
2. Black
3. Driven
4. Denial
5. Praise
6. Forever
7. Strong Arm Broken
8. Pieces.
9. Master of Puppets/Walk (instrumental)
10. Face to Face

The middle act was Three Days Grace, a band I have certainly heard of but cannot say I know any of their songs. Now, they definitely performed well, but I cannot say that I cared much for them. The music just didn't do much for me. I know I was in the minority as my friends and the rest of the crowd went pretty crazy for them. I just felt the energy get sapped out of me as they are considerably mellower than Sevendust.

The best part of their set, aside from a cover of the tune the band's singer guested on for Apocalyptica, "I Don't Care," was when he implored everyone to stand up and proceeded to do a lap around the arena, occasionally going up the steps in a few sections, including right next to me which resulted in my nearly being dumped into the next row down by a couple of excited fans.

Again, I could get into the performance and had fun during their set, but I cannot say they are a band I would go out of my way for.

Set List:
1. Good Life
2. Break
3. Pain
4. I Hate Everything About You
5. World So Cold
6. I Don't Care (Apocalyptica cover)
7. Home (With Eminem's Lose Yourself)
8. Never Too Late
9. Riot
10. Animal I Have Become

Finally, the moment arrived for our headliner to take the stage. Avenged Sevenfold began their set with a bang, and a hanging. That's right, as "Nightmare" began a man plummeted from rafters, noose around his neck. It was quite a site, a violent fall and swing over the stage before coming to rest motionless for the duration of the song.

The A7X fanatics may have effectively soured the band for me a bit (thanks a lot guys...), there is nothing like a solid live performance to help forget about the actions of an overzealous few. There is no questioning  that these guys have skills and know their way around their instruments and the stage. They had everyone eating out of the palm of their hands. There is a reason why these guys have achieved the level of fame they have.

Now, I don't care what anyone says these guys are like the future of 80's glam. Actually, they may be the bastard child of the NWOBHM and LA Glam. They have the glam swagger and stage presence and the musical skills of those heavy metal acts we love so much (to that end I was reppin an Iron Maiden tee at the show).

The stage show was pretty spectacular with a series of fire pots, a couple flaming arcs, lights pretty much everywhere, and they were not shy about using them. Much of the set was accompanied by some sort of pyrotechnics.

The set was comprised primarily of tracks from Nightmare, which disappointed me. Yes, I like the album and there are definitely some god tunes, but I would have preferred better representation from City of Evil and Waking the Fallen (represented by one song apiece).

Now, for the things I didn't like. Just remember that I had a great time rocking out with these guys and would gladly do it again. The thing is I did not care for all the Rev reverence. I understand how much the man meant to them and what he meant to the band, but there was so much dedicated to him and the piping in of the piano playing and his vocals, it was all a bit much. I was actually a little creeped out by it and I hope this isn't something that will continue into future tours.

And the encore? Sorry, good tunes but bad encore. The songs were "Fiction" and "Save Me." One would have been all right, but the two just sapped the late show energy. I am of the opinion that the encore should be high energy, get those lots bit of energy out of the crowd before spitting them out into the dark night. Now, "Beast and the Harlot" or "Burn it Down" would have been great show closers that would have had the crowd go berserk.

Overall, I had a great time with their performance. They definitely have talent an I do look forward to where they go from here. If you have a chance to see them live, make sure you do.

Set List:
1. Nightmare
2. Critical Acclaim
3. Welcome to the Family
4. Almost Easy
5. Buried Alive
6. So Far Away
7. Afterlife
8. God Hates Us
9. Bat Country
10. Unholy Confessions

11. Fiction
12. Save Me

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