As the world prepared to put on their party hats, blow on their kazoos and ring in a new year, one of rock's premier bands went the other route. Celebrating 20 years, Sevendust put a cap on San Antonio's wide-ranging 2017 concert campaign by going back in time while showing the Vibes Event Center inside The Rock Box how it became one of the scene's most consistent artists.
And, in the process, demonstrated that it's not slowing down anytime soon.
With Crobot plus locals Even In Death and Down Generation warming things up last Saturday night, Sevendust broke out its 1997 self-titled debut album in its entirety, which included tracks it hadn't played in recent visits such as "Terminator," "Wired" and "Face" (ATM footage below; setlist in slideshow). Crowd reaction to encores including the moshpit-inducing "Face to Face" and "Shine" (watch ATM Facebook Live footage here) typified what it meant for the Atlanta natives to mark their milestone with a special tour as frontman Lajon Witherspoon declared, "Man, I love me some Texas."
As is often the case, Witherspoon became emotional when addressing the crowd. During the 2015 Fiesta Oyster Bake, tears rolled down his face when Witherspoon shared that he and his wife had found out they were going to be parents. On Saturday, it was the magnitude of Sevendust's 20 years, and frequent visits to Texas that played a role in many of those shows, that had the singer poignantly sharing his feelings with the audience -- which included Nothing More vocalist Jonny Hawkins.
With guitarists John Connolly and Clint Lowery, bassist Vince Hornsby and drummer Morgan Rose doing their thing, Sevendust concluded the evening in an appropriate way with "Thank You," though that is anything but a slow and sappy tune. The crowd continued to pump its fists, sing and headbang while those in the trenches encircled one another, threw down, and helped one another to their feet when one was knocked to the floor. Though Sevendust left some personal favorites off the set such as "Enemy," "Denial" and "The Past" in exchange for playing an entire album, the performance indicated that Sevendust is one of those bands that no matter what songs are brought forth, a satisfying show is virtually always guaranteed.
Crobot, which played the 2015 River City Rockfest plus the 2014 Fall Ball, hardly disappointed either. Vocalist Brandon Yeagley was hands down the most energetic musician of the evening. With "The Necromancer" and other tunes from the group's two latest albums ringing throughout the Vibes, Crobot entertained those singing word for word in the front row, those casually watching from further back . . . and even those who weren't aware they were playing in "the other room."
A video screen of the Vibes' live goings-on was on display on The Rock Box stage when one couple that apparently hadn't been to the venue inquired as to how many bands were on the bill. Informed that Crobot was winding down its set and Sevendust was the only band remaining, the gentleman replied, "What do you mean almost done? That's just a video, right?" Seconds later, he grabbed his significant other's hand and rushed off to where the music was unfolding in real time.
Even In Death received top billing among the two local groups and unveiled a lineup change. Rhythm guitarist Joey Villalobos and bassist Anthony Aleman are in the band, replacing Joshua Calderon and John Bernal, respectively. The group was limited to four songs including "Broken Dreams," "Possessed," and its recent video single "Fire All Your Guns." With vocalist Sean Nations, lead guitarist Anthony Carrillo and drummer Mark Reyes more than holding down the fort following the roster change, it will be interesting to see what 2018 has in store for the newer version.
Down Generation, a side project of Evil United and Murder FM drummer Jason "Shakes" West, got the night off to a blistering start. Vocalist Mauricio "Malls" Adan and lead guitarist Todd "Bird" Connally rocked out to tunes from the group's Self-Destruction EP, ending with the title track (ATM footage here), and gave a preview of what's to come this summer. Adan always knows how to crank up a crowd with his stage presence and vocal prowess, while "Bird" demonstrated what has made him a hot commodity in groups such as Evil United and Pitbull Daycare. West, meanwhile, played on a dislocated right elbow that required fluid drainage the following day. All in the name of Rock N' Roll, of course.
As 2017 ended on a highly satisfactory note concert-wise, Sevendust and Co. left an unwritten challenge for San Antonio to top it in 2018.
Bring it on.