Anyone who has ever been to a Sevendust show knows there isn’t much time to stand idle, as the band is always running high energy and producing a sound that could rival any band in the country for clarity and precision.
Lead singer Lajon Witherspoon, kind enough to take a few minutes before the band’s scheduled meet and greet in Piere’s “Sports Bar,” didn’t hesitate to praise Fort Wayne and Piere’s as one of the band’s favorite stops on tour.
“I love Piere’s, it’s always a family vibe here,” Witherspoon said. “Since the first time we played here years ago, I fell in love with this place. It’s always had a special place in my heart, the crowds are always incredible. The energy is great. And after the show, there is so much to do here, there are the other clubs. It’s always a good time.”
The band, which formed in the mid-1990s as Rumblefish before changing its name to Sevendust, officially dropped the world on its ear with the super heavy “Black” album in 1997 and hasn’t looked back since. Eight records and a handful of solo projects later, the band is anticipating heading back into the studio in early September to put its stamp on another EP.
“The music is always the most important thing,” lamented Witherspoon. “As you get older, you try to keep a finger on the pulse. We look at it like a business, its running a business. But the music keeps it real. I think we were all destined to do music. And I don’t know what I would do without it.”It’s been a busy time for the boys, with guitarist John Connolly and bassist Vince Hornsby working on a side project, “Projected”, and guitarist Clint Lowery and drummer Morgan Rose having just released “Call Me No One”, which will bring Lowery and Rose back to Piere’s on July 27 to play a set. Lowery will step in front of the microphone full-time as the lead singer. Witherspoon has lent his vocals in various directions, which he feels is part of the growth the band has needed.
“I think its cool that we have things going on other than just Sevendust,” Witherspoon said. “For the first time, we were able to take off some extra time. John got going on some ideas, I was able to put some ideas together on an old project that I’m about to do. It’s fun, it’s needed. Everyone has that outlet and its cool to be able to do that. And ultimately, Sevendust is still the priority.”
As for the show Friday night. Vintage Sevendust.
The strobes and pulsating intro of ‘Inside’ opened the hot set, and included several of the old school anthems the Sevendust Family has craved like ‘Waffle,’ ‘Black’ and ‘Praise’. Witherspoon also brought out the human side of the band during ‘Angel’s Son,’ a dedication song from the “Animosity” album to Snot band member Lynn Strait, who was killed in a 1998 car accident.
But ‘Angel’s Son’ was about the only somber portion of the show, as the boys fired back into ‘Suffocate,’ ‘Strong Arm Broken’ and eventually ‘The End Is Coming’ before ending with an encore performance of ‘Face To Face’ to close the 75 minute-set.
Following the show, in true old school fashion, Sevendust came back out into the venue and met with fans for over two hours. Whether in the back parking lot by the buses, or in Witherspoon’s case, saddled up to the bar in the Karaoke Room among a throng of sweaty supporters. The show of love between the band and its fans has been a symbolic force for both Sevendust and its legion of fans.
“It’s just a magic, an energy to go out and jam. It’s easy,” the frontman said. “We’re old school rock and roll. A place like this is always a cool vibe.”
Assisting Sevendust on the stage Friday night was Fort Wayne’s own Downstait, which wasted no time getting the metal edge rolling. Founded in 2002, Downstait has made the rise from locals doing well to a band with national presence. While having just 30 minutes, the band included ‘I Came To Play,’ which was used as theme music by World Wrestling Entertainment’s The Miz.
Also supporting Friday night were Minnesota product Three Pill Morning, which will have its new album, “Black Tie Love Affair,” drop this Tuesday, and Black Oxygen, a quartet of Kansas City rockers that rallied around its frontman, David Lyle, and his accomplished guitar licks.