LIVE PHOTOS: Sevendust, All Good Things, Plush, Deepfall
By Greg Maki
Nov. 13, 2001, is a day I remember well. Working a late shift at my then-new job, I drove to the nearest Best Buy in the morning—about 40 miles away—to make an eagerly awaited CD purchase: “Animosity” by Sevendust, which over the course of its first two albums, had quickly become one of my favorite bands. (I also picked up Rob Zombie’s “The Sinister Urge,” which came out the same day, and Dope’s “Life,” which had been released a week earlier.) Not as heavy as “Sevendust” (1997) or “Home” (1999), “Animosity” offered more mature songwriting and a refined melodic sensibility, taking full advantage of a band that features four stellar vocalists. It’s the record that showed Sevendust would remain standing strong long after the nu-metal wave had subsided.
Sevendust has released 10 albums since then—with not a weak one among them—but “Animosity” is the one I’ve gone back to the most over the years. Evidently, I’m not the only one that that record, which was certified gold (500,000 units sold) in March 2002, has resonated with. Cut to 2022 and Sevendust has been on the road celebrating “Animosity” reaching drinking age, playing the album in its entirety night after night.
Late on the second leg of the tour, Sevendust hit Rams Head Live in Baltimore, Maryland, and gave one of the best of the many performances I’ve seen by the band in the past quarter century. Twenty-one years later, the songs from “Animosity” sounded as vibrant as ever.
Performing in near darkness with occasional flashes of light, the band—frontman Lajon Witherspoon, guitarists Clint Lowery and John Connolly, bassist Vinnie Hornsby and drummer Morgan Rose—was upbeat and energetic throughout, ripping through longtime fan favorites such as “Praise,” “Trust,” “Crucified” (which was moved to the end of the set, the only change from the original track listing) and “Shine,” along with seldom, if ever, played tunes “Follow,” “Damaged” and “Live Again,” and the dripping-with-emotion tracks “Xmas Day” and “Angel’s Son” (which Witherspoon dedicated to those lost in the COVID-19 pandemic and the people of Ukraine). The highlight of the set, though, was “Dead Set,” a song that in the past, for some reason, had struggled to connect in a live setting and benefited greatly from being played in the album’s sequencing, following the mellow “Xmas Day.” The encore saw the band fast forward to 2020 with “Blood from a Stone,” from its latest album “Blood & Stone,” then close with the classic “Face to Face” from 2003’s “Seasons.”
The fans that filled the venue were even more fired up than the typical Sevendust crowd, with pits going strong throughout the night and the band feeding off that energy. It’s also worth noting how genuinely happy and appreciative all the band members were. At one point, Witherspoon referred to the event not as a concert but a “family reunion.” And apparently, the entire tour has been just as successful, as Witherspoon said a third leg is planned for September.
SEVENDUST SET LIST: “T.O.A.B.,” “Praise,” “Trust,” “Xmas Day,” “Dead Set,” “Follow,” “Shine,” “Damaged,” “Live Again,” “Beautiful,” “Redefine,” “Angel’s Son,” “Crucified,” (encore) “Blood from a Stone,” “Face to Face”
Deepfall, a quintet from Grand Rapids, Michigan, began the evening, touring in support of its 2022 independent EP “Revolution.” With a keyboard player in its ranks, the band has a bit of a different flavor than the typical modern hard rock act, offering a bit of a soulful sound that went over well with a crowd that, at the time, was far from a full house. A cover of Lenny Kravitz’s “Are You Gonna Go My Way” went a long way toward livening things up.
Next up, the all-female quartet Plush—vocalist/guitarist Moriah Formica, lead guitarist Bella Perron, bassist Ashley Suppa and drummer Brooke Colucci—showed why it has the potential to be a huge part of the future of rock music. A young band—Formica is the oldest at 21—that formed during the pandemic, each member is a budding star. The comparison I like to make is Alter Bridge with Lzzy Hale on vocals. Highlights of the set included the anthemic “Athena” and “Champion,” a cover of the Heart classic “Barracuda” and the hit single “Hate.”
PLUSH SET LIST: “Athena,” “Champion,” “Sober,” “Better Off Alone,” “Barracuda,” “Will Not Win,” “Hate”
Direct support came from All Good Things, a band that has existed for nearly a decade but most only became aware of last year through the single “For the Glory,” which hit number on the U.S. Mainstream Rock chart. The quintet’s energy was infectious, and though I knew only the one song, it served as a perfect table-setter for the Sevendust main course.