Staind/Chevelle/Halestorm/Adelitas Way/Black Tide: Mississippi Coast Coliseum, Biloxi, MS, 12/16/11

Five bands, one ticket price: Now that is the way to enjoy a Friday night; especially in today’s messed-up economy. And on this night a quinary of bands from the harder-rocking sector of music came out to play for a house full of fans, young and old. It is always good to see music not having an age limit and I’d like to think when I am 60, bands will still lure me into the bowels of a mosh pit. As Todd Kerns told me last year, "we are just now experiencing our rock & roll idols growing older, and as they age so does the majority of their long-time fans. And those fans are the ones bringing not only their children but their grandchildren to concerts now. With this kind of die-hard loyalty, rock & roll will never die."

So here we have Staind, headlining a tour with a plethora of up & coming young buck bands and Aaron Lewis is vibrating the room with his gravely vocals, emitting root canal screams on one song then quietly serenading you with an elegant ballad that captures a heartstring that on the following tune he rips to shreds. Lewis is a classic example of leather and lace, spikes and charm. And he brought the house down with a chill-up-the-spine lament of life via the haunting “Something To Remind You”. Not often does one end a hard rocking concert with a melody line so sincere and melancholy. Fans walked away with a tear in their eye while raising devil horns.

Songwriting took an unexpected spotlight throughout the five bands’ sets. From Halestorm’s emotional “Familiar Taste Of Poison” to the hatred of Adelitas Way’s “Sick” to Staind’s “Outside”, words of pain, love and anger ruled the night, shattering stereotypical emoticons of what happens during a show of this magnitude on the Richter Scale. Lighters were waved, singing strained vocal chords to their limit, arms reached to heaven.

But this was a rock concert, when all is said and done, so sitting and wallowing in one’s dreamy psychedelic visions were quickly evaporated when one song bled to the next. Black Tide kicked everything off with a fast-paced set, highlighting drummer Steven Spence and guitar player Austin Diaz, both massive players in a band out of Florida.

Adelitas Way, Vegas boys quickly running up the ladder of success, played next. Despite a microphone malfunction that irritated vocalist Rick DeJesus, it only pumped him up to get down and sledgehammer their power hits “Sick” and “Invincible”.  “Unless you have a joint, I don’t want to see any of this,” DeJesus challenged, standing center stage with his arms crossed sarcastically. “Put your hands in the air!” With bass player Derek Johnston pulling out some gnarly deep-throat chords and DeJesus spitting venom in a power-pop configuration, Adelitas Way are definitely proving the hype right. They just recently opened for Guns N Roses, toured with Alter Bridge on the Carnival Of Madness tour and played the very popular PointFest in St Louis.

The band that impressed me the most was definitely Halestorm, led by the rascally Lizzy Hale. Looking for a female artist to worship? Forget Hayley Williams. Hale is the rock goddess of the new century. Her vocals soar in at times painful octaves; especially when going a cappella on a snippet from “Crazy On You” and bringing up images of a punkified Billie Holiday on “Familiar Taste Of Poison”. The lady has the spunk to sink ships, kick your ass and then gently caress you back to life. She is a tiny ball of fire. Witness the snakebite ferocity of Skid Row’s “Slave To The Grind”, the new song “Freak Like Me” and their set closer “I Get Off”. This was the set I wanted to see go on longer than the eight songs they were allowed. Also want to make mention of drummer Arejay Hale. He is a phenom, going tribal and pounding out a solo with his bare fists. Standing side of stage with Adelitas Way guitar player Robert Zakaryan, we both stood with mouths open at Hale’s bare-handed ferocity. “I can’t concentrate,” Zakaryan told me after watching Hale. It was that intense.

Chicago’s Chevelle was a fan favorite. Playing about nine songs, the trio of vocalist Pete Loeffler, bass player Dean Bernardini and drummer Sam Loeffler went balls to the wall with “Face To The Floor”, “The Clincher”, the trippy “The Red”, and the mindfuck of “Send The Pain Below”. “How do those seats feel?” vocalist Loeffler asked at one point. “Why don’t you do me a favor and get out of those seats. It’s a fucking rock show”. Staind’s Aaron Lewis even came out to listen to most of Chevelle’s set.

Lewis is one of rock’s chameleons. He can appear to love and cuddle you with “So Far Away” and “It’s Been Awhile” and then just as suddenly vomit on you with “Failing” and psychotically mess with your mind on “For You”. But Staind is also bass player Johnny April, guitar player Mike Mushok and drummer Jon Wysocki, three unsung heroes that fill out the thrust that pulls the band’s songs into different folds of the same cloth. Lewis may bring the soul but these guys definitely keep the blood flowing through the heart. Mushok is especially fun to watch as he swings his hair in all different directions at breakneck speed and never once misses a note nor catches hair strands in the strings. It’s like he generates his own wind tunnel.

“Over the years I’ve fucked this song up a few times,” Lewis joked before “So Far Away”. Introducing “Outside”, Lewis revealed that “there are a lot of songs I could play for you but if there is one song in particular that holds a lot of meaning for me, it was a song that was born in this room.” And with “Mudshovel”, he thanked everyone “for allowing us to do this for the past thirteen years.”
After a brief pause, Lewis walked out for an encore with no bass, no drums, no power chords and no inhibitions. With Mushok strumming gently at his side, Lewis said goodbye with the heart-breaking hymn “Something To Remind You”.

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