An Evening with Sevendust: Live At The Paradise Rock Club, Boston, MA





At this point in the career, Sevendust knows they have achieved a certain status as the elder statesman of modern heavy rock or active rock, whatever industry buzzword is trending this week. They are still hungry like a new band, putting out quality releases and always putting on a fine show. At the same time, they don’t play it safe artistically. This is why in spite of my love of music that is progressive, extreme, harsh, and thrashy; I still come back to this band that I have always respected. They have been a part of my many musical journeys for a long time. Whether seeing their first tour in New York at a long gone tiny club, to watching 300,000+ people jump up and down to a song they never heard before (‘Rumblefish’) at Woodstock `99, to their recent record-breaking Kickstarter campaign, I am proud to say I was there.



We were in for a treat tonight, with no opening act and just “An Evening With” format. I didn’t even realize the show was long sold out and there were a ton of people waiting to get inside, when I arrived at The Paradise. As evidenced by my earlier show this year with Carcass, this venue should not host really extreme bands or their fans. However for some lighter, more relaxed concerts such as Crosses or the unplugged show tonight; it’s a solid choice. The first really hot day of summer in Boston meant the AC was on full blast so we were feeling chilly in the dark rectangular room. Meanwhile the stage sat ready for a while with some LED candles adding to the mood of the stage filled with guitars, bar stools, and music stands.


Sevendust finally came on stage to their intro music, and the packed crowd approved. As the band took their seated spots for the night and checked their gear, Lajon Witherspoon welcomed the crowd and promised a good time. Drawing on their new album Time Travelers & Bonfires (7Bros.) The immediately launched into ‘Trust’ and the band sound great. Playing acoustically, and only augmented by their touring piano player Kurt Wubbenhorst, they played a flawless evening of music. Even if they were just doing straight up acoustic versions of their heavier songs note for note (which they are not) it is a challenge to play electric acoustic live in a large venue. The rub is even the best acoustic guitars sound too thin at times. It’s also unforgiving for mistakes, but then again, I heard none tonight. The second song of the night was my personal favorite since their first album, ‘Prayer’. I think this song works even better given this treatment than the original. ‘Crucified’ is one of their older songs they have given a slightly new arrangement to on the new album. Known to be a hard hitter behind the kit, Morgan Rose thrashed around and smashed his drums like any other time I have seen the band. Maybe just a touch softer. The entire band also sounded great singing together, not just Lajon and Clint Lowery either. ‘Under It All’ was the first of the new songs played and it fit right in with the oldies and deep cuts too. The gems they pulled out tonight were especially sweet if you were a long-time fan.

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Ever the performer, Lajon got out of his seat, prowled the stage, and connected with the crowd as much as possible. It was cool to hear the entire room sing hits like ‘Denial’ just as loudly as a new cut like ‘Gone’. Lajon told stories about the songs, and the making of the new album, thanking the fans for the support. The band left the stage briefly only to return a little later to play some more. The second set had another new song ‘Come Down’, their well known cover of ‘Hurt’ by Nine Inch Nails. ‘Karma’ is a song the band has never played live and it still sounded fiery in this format too. Before closing out the night with a fitting 1-2 punch of ‘Angel’s Son’ and closer ‘Black’, Witherspoon talked about the late Lynn Strait of Snot for whom ‘Angel’s Son’ was written for as well as Dimebag Darrell. It’s nice how the band have kept their perspective all these years. Whether or not you are a fan, if you have a chance to see this tour, do yourself a favor and go get a ticket.


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Sevendust Set List:





Xmas Day

Under It All

Skeleton Song

The Wait



Rumble Fish



Come Down

Hurt (Nine Inch Nails cover, Johnny Cash version)


Got a Feeling


Angel’s Son






Under The Microscope – Lajon Witherspoon of Sevendust


Sevendust are currently on a sweeping tour of the USA, but unlike their usually high-energy, heavy rock affairs, this tour is a rare stripped-down affair. For the second time in their career, they are again doing an acoustic tour, supporting their recent release Time Travelers and Bonfires (7Bros. Records). The new record actually charted on Billboard, which is a rare feat in this day and age and shows the bands staying power. They are in a good place with each other and with their lives. After some turmoil earlier in their career they seemed to have really fallen into a good groove, and it shows.

We started out our chat with Lajon Witherspoon talking about the current tour. A seasoned live act, Sevendust never skimps on the experience they give to their fans, no matter what kind of gig they put on. We asked about the state of the band during this run of “A” and “B” markets on the tour:

Everything is fantastic! We are in Joliet, Illinois, this morning. We’re at a pretty cool little bar/restaurant. An Italian place. Things could not be better. It feels good to be alive! (laughs) We have been on the road already for three weeks. The tour is going in extraordinarily, crazy, weird, with incredible energy every night. I can’t believe how big it is. Last night we played my hometown of Kansas City. Last night the Midland Theater was sold out, and it’s an acoustic show! It’s been like that everywhere. It’s been a great energy man, and I can’t believe what is going on. That being said, thanks to all those beautiful people out there who put us on. I just heard that we just made Billboard this week, and I’m so amazed. I gotta thank the Lord for that! It’s a beautiful thing.”

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Notorious road warriors playing over 250 shows per year, Sevendust live concerts are usually exciting and loud with the band jumping all over the stage. We asked if this type of tour was easier on the veteran band, contrasted to a normal gig:

It’s not a regular acoustic show. It’s an energetic show, and we take people on an emotional roller-coaster. It feels incredible. We brought a piano player on the road with us, it’s just great. It’s really interesting. He helps perform the new material, and we are having a blast!. The piano player is Kurt (Wubbenhorst), we brought him from the studio. He is one of the owners of Architect Studios, that we recorded at in New Jersey. We brought him out on the road because he played it on the record, and so we asked if he would like to come out on the road with Sevendust and be part of the show, and he said yes! And there you have it. We are actually doing all the songs from the (new) record. Then we bring back in the older songs. We do an hour-long first set, then we take a 15 minute break, and then we come back out and do like another 45 more minutes. It’s pretty cool.”



Although some might argue the point, Lajon feels that it is tougher to play “unplugged” than a typical rock show: “I think we are more under the microscope when it comes to this kind of show. You don’t have the loud guitars to drown out everything. You have to be really precise. It’s very simple and straight to the point. I like it better that way actually. It really shows our talent, more so than anything.”


The band took a novel approach to making the new album. In addition to the new originals they wrote, the band let their fans vote online to choose which older songs they should choose from. We next discussed the process of arranging the older material:

We kind of sat down the same way we are set up acoustically on the tour. We sat around and blocked out all the songs and worked on arrangements and we just slayed it. We would vibe back and forth like “that song is really slow” or “we need to change that arrangement, it’s too weird”. If you think about it like this: think of how long how long we have been playing some of these songs. I have probably sung some of the older songs differently over the last 8 years, and even more differently the decade before that. So if anyone can break these songs down and change them around, and do it differently, it would be us. It really did come easy. Now some songs we tried, didn’t sound good acoustically at all. Those songs we skipped. But for the most part we were able to nail it all. We are really happy with the way everything turned out.”




Some years ago, amid rumors of the band perhaps going their separate ways, there was talk in the music press about Lajon exploring an R&B album. With the band on better ground than ever, we asked him if that project is still alive:

That is definitely still in the works. I just feel like I am taking my time on that. Sevendust still has so much stuff to do. I’m really busy as heck right now, we are all so busy. I always say it’s like playing chess, you have to pick the right time. But there is definitely music written for that, and I am always writing songs for it, so all in due time.”


With all of these bands from a certain era (the 1990s) reaching mature, veteran status; our talk turns to growing up, spending time with families, and time spent off the minutiae of the killing road:

I’m originally from Nashville, Tennessee, but I moved to Kansas about a year ago. I have lived in Kansas City for about a year, me and my wife just built a house here near Overland Park, and I love it a lot. My daughter is in school here, and it’s great. It’s really very cool. The community and the town has really welcomed me, and done a lot for me, and I love being a part of it. I really love it. It’s great. I like to ride my motorcycle a lot when I’m not on tour, and I have a five year-old daughter and a 14 year-old, so I’m a busy, busy dude. There’s nothing wrong with growing up.”


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Sevendust – Time Travelers and Bonfires



Playing “unplugged” as a novelty went of style out a long time ago. From the MTV Unplugged series to all manner of radio stations getting bands in the studio to bash out a few acoustic alt-takes for broadcast or singles, music fans have become accustomed to bands laying back, and getting in touch with their inner Jim Croce, Joan Baez, and Harry Chapin. Even artists as diverse as Zakk Wylde, Wino, Epica, Anathema and, Scott Kelly like to strum a 12-string or a dobro, and often feel liberated by the process. Sevendust has already gone down this road a decade ago withSouthside Double-Wide: Acoustic Live and clearly wanted to make this a standalone affair. In addition to writing new material, they also enlisted their fans to choose which of their classics would be re-recorded. Not only that, they had a wildly successful crowdfunding campaign with Pledge Music, netting over 222% above their goal to get this album made.

Time Travelers and Bonfires (7Bros) features new songs, which fit right in with the best of the bands back catalog. Songs like ‘Come Down’, ‘Under It All’, and ‘Upbeat Sugar’ all sound like they would have fit well into 2013’s Black Out The Sun release. The songs written specifically with this album in mind feel fresh, rather than just playing a batch of rock songs recorded acoustically. ‘Bonfire’ has that familiar 7D sound to it, just more chill, and if they have a song they’d like to reverse this treatment to, this is the one. The pristine production allows rare elements for this band like piano and string arrangements to shine through the mix. The vocal interplay of LaJon Witherspoon, Clint Lowery and the rest of the band are just magical sounding. The new music also continues the wizened, wistful lyrics we’ve heard from them lately. The fan chosen-songs could not represent the history of Sevendust better. Whether it’s re-casting the fierce ‘Denial’ as a doleful ballad, ‘Crucified’ as a countrified shuffle, or adding new flavors to ‘Karma’ and ‘Black’; the band has given new life to these old hits. This is definitely a must have for fans, and a good addition to your music collection if you need to find some balance amongst the all noise.


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Keith Chachkes