Sevendust’s love affair with San Antonio has reared its head for many years, but especially so with each subsequent visit. Last Saturday’s gig at Vibes Event Center was the latest chapter that etched its own characteristics into the band’s Alamo City legacy.
There was the 2015 Fiesta Oyster Bake in which the natives of Atlanta headlined the 99th annual rendition of the event. That one will be remembered for vocalist Lajon Witherspoon not only showing compassion for body surfers who were dragged forcefully over the railing and onto the ground by law enforcement, but for the frontman tearfully sharing with the roughly 30,000 at St. Mary’s University that he and his wife were about to have their first child after several attempts (coverage here).
Sevendust closed the city’s concert scene in 2017 by celebrating 20 years of its debut self-titled album in its entirety, also at Vibes Event Center (coverage here).
Saturday’s visit ended a six-week run with Tremonti, Cane Hill, Lullwater and Kirra celebrated by a group photo at show’s end. Sevendust did its own unique celebrating by again catering to the old-school fans, playing only one song — “Dirty” — from latest album All I See is War (setlist in 60-photo slideshow below). Crowd favorites “Black,” “Denial” and “Waffle” — the latter resulting in Witherspoon singling out a fan named Samantha he had met earlier in the day who requested that song to him — dotted the group’s set. However, unlike the prior visits, no media videography with professional cameras was allowed. As such, you’ll have to settle for ATM’s Facebook Live footage of personal favorite “Enemy.
Some bands go through the motions on the final night of a tour. Some show the wear and tear of a long grind. And some, such as Sevendust, go balls out not wanting it to end. Almost.
“I want to say something about this tour,” Witherspoon said. “Wait, hold up. Y’all throwing out requests. I’m about to tell a story, and this guy’s like, ‘Face to Face!’ But we started at a place called Shiprocked in Galveston six weeks ago. . . . I really don’t want this to end, but I can’t wait to be in my fucking house tomorrow!”
With drummer Morgan Rose smiling and raising his eyebrows at a certain photographer while effortlessly jamming, guitarist Clint Lowery playfully flipping off that same person, bassist Vince Hornsby making his usual facial expressions at the crowd and guitarist John Connolly unassumingly laying down his riffs, Sevendust charged through their 14-song set that also included “Shine,” “Thank You” and, yes, gave that one fan and many others their wish of traditional closer “Face to Face.”
The Vibes and its sister stage the Rock Box have undertaken a wide array of shows, and their itinerary will only continue to grow both in numbers and importance. That’s because neighboring competitive venue Alamo City Music Hall — whose parking lot Sevendust headlined with 10 Years and Kyng in 2013 — shut down last month. Through the tireless work of bar owners Micaela and Steve Rodriguez and their staff, the Vibes added a downstairs portion to the left of the Vibes’ stage that includes 10 shiny bathroom stalls each with their own sink and wooden doors accompanying two additional bars — a nice touch that adds to the venue’s appeal and renders the air conditioning issues that plagued separate Mastodon and Breaking Benjamin shows at the Vibes in 2015 a distant memory.
An artist who played the Rock Box’s parking lot during the two-day Fall Ball in 2014 while headlining with Alter Bridge (coverage here) was Sevendust’s direct support Mark Tremonti’s solo band. As if his riffs in Alter Bridge aren’t heavy enough, Tremonti gets to spread his guitar wings a little more frequently and more heavily in his eponymous band as well as sing lead. Touring in support of fourth album A Dying Machine, Tremonti ripped through a nine-song 45-minute set that showcased three of his project’s records. After the third song, Tremonti became extra fired up by spotting a naysayer in the crowd.
“Why you flicking me off all night,” Tremonti angrily asked. “What? What? What? You suck, shut the fuck up!”
The loud roars of the 1,000-plus fans inside the Vibes gave way to “The Things I’ve Seen” from his first release All I Was in 2012 (setlist in slideshow). Seventh and new tune “Throw Them to the Lions” had the intensity of an album opener and could’ve received votes for the heaviest tune of the night among all five artists. Immediately following the final note of “Wish You Well,” the band made its way to the merch table to meet as many fans as possible prior to Sevendust taking the stage 30 minutes later.
Cane Hill, the middle artist on the bill, disappointingly played 98 percent of its set in silhouetted darkness — not exactly a photographer’s best conditions at a concert. Their rap-metal style also was the most different of the five bands, though they were heavily endorsed by Lowery, who wore their T-shirt during Sevendust’s set.
Lullwater of Athens, Georgia, was arguably the loudest group on the program with their crunchy Southern riffs, thunderous drums and straightforward-yet-powerful songs. Having formed in 2007, it would not be fair to label the lads as an up-and-coming band. But the sky’s the limit for vocalist/rhythm guitarist John Strickland, lead guitarist Daniel Binnie, bassist Roy Beatty and drummer Joe Wilson after releasing Voodoo just eight days earlier. Lullwater is definitely a band on the rise that can fit on basically any tour package. Who knows? Maybe they’ll follow in Sevendust’s and Tremonti’s footsteps as having performed at the Oyster Bake in the not-too-distant future.
Kirra out of Oklahoma City kicked off the night to a sizable crowd that showed up early enough to check them out and were rewarded for doing so. The band’s history is a unique one. Guitarist Daxton Page, drummer Zach Stafford and bassist Ryne McNeill founded the group six years ago along with then-vocalist Jesse Williamson. Kirra released material via Pavement Entertainment, the same label that reps San Antonio’s Waxpanel, whom ATM interviewed last week (watch here).
However, Williamson died in a car crash in January of last year, and Kirra used a fill-in vocalist while touring with San Antonio’s Nothing More. Current singer Gabriel Parson joined the fold last April, and Kirra went on another tour with Bobaflex — which likely explains why McNeill was wearing a Bobaflex T-shirt on the Vibes’ stage.
A mixture of veteran artists, side projects and bands with promising futures made for a special trek-concluding recipe in the Alamo City. Sevendust had definitely arrived . . . and departed leaving the audience hungry for more heavy rock the next time they come through town as only they can deliver.