Back when I was a compulsive Sevendust listener nine or ten years ago, seeing this show would've had me shitting not only my pants, but those of everybody around me as well. While this did not happen (and I'm sure my BTH colleague Ge Oh was quite thankful for this), I was still very excited to see them. While I didn't really care for the little bit of Drowning Pool I knew, seeing a couple new bands (The Flood and Digital Summer) sounded like fun, and for the most part, everybody delivered handsomely. First up was The Flood, an early Tool-inspired group in the vein of Chevelle or Earshot, but with a great deal more intensity and an impressive psychedelic edge. Between vocalist Chris Johnson's startling stage presence and the powerful rhythm section of bassist Jeff Eason and drummer Nate Minick, this opening act drew a crowd rather quickly, and kept their attention effortlessly. The five song set flew by in under thirty minutes, and by the time they were done, the audience was more than sufficiently warmed up. Hot off the heels of recording their full-length debut, as well as an extensive nationwide tour, The Flood are definitely a hard rock act to watch.
Unfortunately, the more bands present on a bill, the more likely it's going to be that weak links will be present - Digital Summer was that weak link. While they started with a clever feedback-ridden intro, the set was plagued by a poor overall sound, namely because Kyle Winterstein's vocals were drowned out to the point that he was nearly inaudible. The alt. metal quintet has quite a buzz following them, but while they gave a fairly energetic performance (and Ben Anderson's drumming was spectacular), they just sounded like another generic band from the current metal scene. Like The Flood, theirs was a brief, five song set, and they were done within a half hour.
It was Drowning Pool who really got the audience stirred up; the whole band displayed great musicianship and energy, and singer Ryan McCombs' (the band's third) charisma grabbed everybody right away. The fact that they put on such a good show blew me away, because like I said, I'd never really been a fan. McCombs had a great, sarcastic banter with the audience, and while their set was about as long as the two previous bands combined, it felt just as quick. They closed out with what is easily their best known song, an absolutely rousing reworking of the overture from Andrew Lloyd Webber's Phantom of the Opera... okay I'm lying, it was Bodies.
By the time Sevendust finally took the stage, the crowd had been whipped into quite a frenzy of anticipation, and the Atlanta boys did not disappoint. The set started with a blast of feedback, kicking off with Black, the opening track from their 1997 self titled debut. It was a pleasant surprise how well represented each of their albums was, with an emphasis on Animosity, their 2001 album which many refer to as their best. Ironically, the only neglected album in their catalogue was their most recent, Chapter VII: Hope & Sorrow. Clint Lowery, John Connolly, and Vince Hornsby (guitarists and bassist, respectively) running back and forth across the stage, leaping into the air, and generally rocking out like maniacs was absolutely awesome, but vocalist Lajon Witherspoon's towering stage presence was still the central feature. He is one of those frontmen who can boom out "ALL Y'AWLL HAVIN' A GOOD TIME TONIGHT??" as many times as he wants, and it will never get old.
In the middle of the set they slowed things down with a great acoustic pairing of Xmas Day and Angel's Son, but they jumped right back into the more aggressive mood they'd established with Unraveling, the single off of their upcoming album Cold Day Memory. After finishing up their set with Bitch, they came back for their encore (encores never have a sense of mystery anymore... but if the band's good enough you really don't give a shit) with a very cool medley of Black Sabbath, Master of Puppets, and Walk that crashed into Born to Die, and they wrapped it up with Face to Face.
Overall, the show was bursting with energy, and it was far more fun than I had expected, with Drowning Pool being a particularly pleasant surprise. One thing each of the four bands had in common was great drumming; Sevendust's Morgan Rose, for example, must've thrown out at least ten or twelve sticks while in the middle of playing, presumably because he gets bored too easily with playing lightning fast drum fills (this is where I add a lame bad ass joke, like "he's so bad ass his mother has a tattoo that says "SON," so feel free to groan). Even with the least impressive group, there was never any sense of simply waiting for the next band to come on, which is quite a feat for a show with more than just two or three bands.