Monday, June 9, 2014

Sevendust Acoustic, Live at the Starland Ballroom

An Evening With Sevendust, Acoustic
Reviewed by Rob Acocella
Rating: 2/5

It pains me to write the words I'm about to put below this, but it has to be said. I've been a fan of Sevendust for a long time and I've seen them more times than I can count, but the show I just witnessed was the worst one so far. I feel like I'd be doing an injustice and a disservice if I were to gloss over the negative details and sugar coat this, so in the interest of this hopefully being seen as constructive criticism, here we go:

When I see a show billed as an acoustic performance, I expect an acoustic performance. This was not an acoustic performance. Some people may argue that a few of the songs had been re-arranged in an acoustic fashion, which I'll give you. Others may argue that the guitarists were playing acoustic guitars, again, this would be true. However, there is more to playing acoustic than simply performing songs on a hollow-body guitar. I understand that in a live and studio setting, you need to plug in, and run through an amp, and I have no issue with that at all. I do have an issue with running effects pedals in your signal chain, and making your acoustic sound like the Les Paul you use on all your other tours. I have an issue with the drums being mixed as though you're using them to perforate the lungs of the audience. I have an issue with the vocal performance of a song barely deviating from the original despite the band having claimed to have rearranged the songs. More importantly, I have a huge issue with showing up with a set of expectations, mostly consisting of 1) seeing a true acoustic performance, and 2) not having my ears ringing to the point I'm checking them for blood, only to have those expectations greatly let down.

I don't feel I'm being unfair here. I'm not taking away from Sevendust the fact that they practically ooze positive energy or that I've never seem them put on a bad show, even tonight. In fact, it's not the performance or the vibe that has me disappointed at all. I've seen many bands go the acoustic route for either part of their set or for a full tour, and none have missed the mark quite like Sevendust. This was not an acoustic show, this was a regular Sevendust show played with two hollow-body guitars mixed in with electric bass, drums, and keyboards.

The show was divided into 2 parts, with about a 30 minute intermission. The first half of the show, I felt was full of less-recognizeable songs, even for someone who has been seeing the band live, on just about every tour, since about 2003. With just a few songs that stood out instantly, most of them just sounded the same to me. The second set, which had a few more favorites, was stronger, but by then I'd already given up on the idea of the show being a more laid-back acoustic variation on what I'm used to. Also, a note to any band that is going to cover Nine Inch Nails' "Hurt": Don't change the lyrics. More specifically, don't change "I wear this crown of shit" into "I wear this crown of thorns." Not only is it such an iconic song that you shouldn't ever consider changing the lyrics, but the implication of those 2 lines are completely different and you ruin that part of the song by changing it as such. A crown of shit means you're the king of garbage, negativity, sorrow, nothingness. A crown of thorns implies condemnation and accusation. Completely different, please don't do it again.

I really wanted to like this show, and I really hate giving Sevendust a poor review for a live show, but I can't lie about this, it really failed to impress me or even meet the most basic expectations.

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