Not even a pair of unruly teens could wipe the smile off Aaron Lewis’ face. After reaching into his pocket, Lewis pulled out a wad of cash and made his way to the edge of the stage.
He threw the money at the disrespectful duo and calmly said, “Here’s the $60 for the tickets, now get the (expletive) out of here.”
The public scolding drew the evening’s loudest cheers, but was quickly forgotten, as Lewis and the rest of Staind leapt back into their blistering set of earth-shaking nu-metal.
Staind’s Sept. 29 performance at The Tweeter Center, was the first of many stops, kicking off a national tour with opening acts Lo Pro and Sevendust.
Staind didn’t take long getting to the point, and had the crowd in the palm of its hand by the third song. Live staples like “For You” and “Spleen” prompted a tidal wave of pumping fists and devil signs that swelled forward with each drum beat.
When the group launched into “Price to Play,” the first single off the band’s 2003 release 14 Shades of Grey, the frenzied crowd switched from fascist style posturing into a full mob sing-a-long.
Staind hit their stride and never looked back, delivering riff after skull crushing riff. Lewis’ heart-wrenching croon stood its ground amid Mike Mushok’s galvanizing guitar work and bassist Johnny Adams’ thumping scales.
It took a few tunes for the crowd to realize that this was not the Staind they thought they knew.
Beyond a sea of lighters and synchronized hand waves stood a band stripped down to its core: a wall of Marshal amplifiers and four men putting every ounce of their emotion into delivering a stunning performance.
Lewis’ voice remained strong throughout the night, softening on occasion and offering a glimpse into his tortured soul. It is this sort of release that has had a profound effect on Staind’s fans.
The band’s brutal honesty in both their lyrics and music has helped the band form a deep bond and connection to its audience, most notably in the lonliness-laiden “Outside.”
During a revved-up version of Lewis’ breakthrough hit, the singer stepped aside and let the crowd sing the words that have touched legions of fans.
Acoustic guitar in hand, Lewis once again steered ship on two of the band’s biggest hits: 2001’s “It’s Been Awhile” and their current single “So Far Away.” The deafening applause that followed brought a smile to the face of a man famous for his lyrical brooding.
Then again, Lewis has had a lot to smile about these days. Staind’s 2001 album Break the Cycle won the hearts of critics and fans alike for its mix of nu-metal prowess and soul-bearing lyrics.
The album quickly became one of the biggest selling albums of the past decade while “Outside” became the song that launched a thousand lighters.
Since then, Staind has proved that stripping down to its core and wearing their hearts on their sleeves can be both an effective and lucrative way of making ends meet.
In the process Staind has earned a devoted following that sing along with every painstaking lyric and pump their fists with every room-rattling riff.
The overwhelming support that Staind’s fans gave them came full circle as the show headed towards a close.
As Adams kicked off the bassline to “Mudshovel,” the crowd rose to their feet, cheering and dripping with sweat from the musical beating they had just received.
For the band, their mission has been accomplished. They came. They saw. They conquered.
Dustin Schoof can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org