SOUTH BEND — There was surely an international flavor at Club Fever last Friday. But one thing was for sure, rock and roll was spoken by everyone in the house.
Whether Swedish, Italian or just good ol’ southern boys, the lineup on the stage all shared an equal flavor of intensity playing to a packed house of very receptive fans. But there was no denying who brought down the house when Sevendust took the stage at Club Fever. The night belonged to them.
Headlining its “Black Out The Sun” tour ahead of the March 26 release of its ninth album, Sevendust turned up the heat to the sold-out crowd despite driving through a blizzard to get to South Bend. Opening its 14-song set with the first single from the new record, “Decay”, Sevendust were all business to start but quickly morphed into crowd favorites that have defined the band for over 15 years.
“Decay” has only been spinning on radio and Internet outlets since January 22, but the crowd were more than responsive to the tune, as well as “Till Death” which lead singer Lajon Witherspoon and guitarist Clint Lowery trade aggressive verbal punches before Witherspoon reels it all in with his trademark harmony in the chorus.
“Right now we are playing “Decay” and that’s the first single, and so far the kids are really liking it,” said a bundled up Witherspoon in the band’s dressing room Friday afternoon. “It’s a real groovin’ song and we’re playing “Till Death” which is really exciting. The album is cool, I really feel this our best work yet.”
To say Sevendust put all its eggs into the latest record would be fair to report during the actual process, but the band have been busy with several side projects that took shape right before writing began for “Black Out The Sun.”
Lowery and drummer Morgan Rose released and toured for their side project – Call Me No One – which dropped “Last Parade” last June that followed with a late-summer tour.
Guitarist John Connelly fronted the appropriately titled Projected, which had bandmate Vince Hornsby on bass. The Projected album, “Human,” hit the streets in September. Witherspoon offered vocals for the track “Bring You Back” on the “Human” album, and he likely will head into the studio after the Sevendust tour wraps up to work on his own projects that have been on the backburner.
“After taking a year off, it was easy for us after we got our side projects out of the way,” Witherspoon said of writing for the new record. “We went back in with a different approach, not coming in with any music and just went back to how it was when we were kids and just jammed and saw what came out. Every day was a different song, it was an incredible experience to work like that.
“I don’t think there was a lot of pressure to work like that. We worked for 12 hours a day for about 30 days. It was a lot of work, but we were motivated to work like that.”
As fans had little time to catch their breath Friday night as Sevendust plowed through its collection of hits, including “Praise”, “Trust” and “Waffle” before concluding the night with “Splinter” and “Face To Face”, there was much more flavor in the air besides that of the boys from Atlanta left behind.
Lacuna Coil could have easily headlined the night after whipping the crowd into a frenzy. The hard rock group from Italy are no strangers to American soil, having toured the states for several years. Lead singer Cristina Scabbia validated the band’s presence by asking for a show of hands from those who have seen a Coil show; a good majority of the crowd responded.
Taking the stage to “I Don’t Believe In Tomorrow” from the band’s latest album, “Dark Adrenaline,” there was no urgency from the band to gain approval. Nine songs later as Coil forged into its two biggest hits, “Trip The Darkness” and the closing “Spellbound”, the crowd were exhausted in a good way.
Keeping the European theme, but albeit a more curious one, were Avatar. Forging its first tour in the United States, the five-piece ensemble from Gothemberg, Sweden, started unique and ended familiar.
A dark stage to start had Avatar at the ready, then thrust into “Let Us Die” as lead singer Johannes Eckerstrom bounded onto the stage in an executioner-style robe complete with mask. If Eckerstrom hadn’t commanded the crowd’s attention, it came as he reappeared on stage for the next song, “Torn Apart” in a mixed visual of Brandon Lee from “The Crow” and Marilyn Manson adorned in classic attire from the roaring 20s.
By the final song of the six-tune sampler, “Welcome To The Freak Show”, it was clear Avatar had made its point, and hit the mark. The song is currently making the rounds on Internet radio, including a spot on Sirius Octane’s Big ‘Uns countdown.
“Avatar is incredible, man,” said a smiling Witherspoon. “This is the first time for them in the states and it’s cool to experience that with them. We look forward to bringing them back on the road again.
“Lacuna Coil, we love them. To bring them back on tour has been incredible. I love the band and really look forward to doing the next leg of the tour with them.”
Opening the night in spectacular fashion was Quad Cities, Ill., favorite Three Years Hollow, playing in South Bend for the second time in six days after touring with Eye Empire for a good part of January and February. Three Years Hollow, which played at Cheer Pub on Feb. 17, whipped through its six songs, that culminated with its latest hit, “Remember”, from the EP of the same name released in March of 2012.
Sevendust will continue to tour in support of the new record in March through May, which includes a date on April 11 at Piere’s in Fort Wayne as well as stops in suburban Chicago and Detroit.