Live Review: Staind — Club Nokia, Los Angeles
Tue, 19 May 2009 10:55:23
L.A. needs a good kick in the ass every once in awhile. A healthy dose of reality goes a long way in this city, and last night at Club Nokia, Staind delivered just the right dosage.
The Massachusetts rock band has never sugarcoated their music, but that's why they still resonate with fans ten years after their major label debut, Dysfunction, twisted hard rock inside out. On their sixth album, The Illusion of Progress, emotions come across unfiltered in vivid lyrics and a chord crunch. The line Staind walks is somewhere between tortured and tormented, but honest and hopeful. No one walks it like they do either, and they're in good company with the likes of Alice In Chains and Pearl Jam.
Dispensing truth in each verse, they're not a band with an agenda; they're more like outlaw cowboys gunning for reckoning because it's all they know. After Johnny Cash piped through the room, the band hit the stage silently before the opening blast of distortion on "Suffocate." Vocalist Aaron Lewis seamlessly seesawed between sensitive and scathing, as he belted out the song's corrosive chorus. Jon Wysocki's propulsive backbeat pushed Johnny April's bass with an undeniable uneasiness. Guitarist Mike Mushok anchored it down with a symphony of fret schizophrenia. Welcome to the perfect Dysfunction. The packed crowd felt at home.
No words prefaced "Falling," because the band didn't need to say anything. Lewis sounded pristine pulling no punches on the song's hook and ripping through each guitar part. The thudding bass buildup on "Fade" elevated the cut's epic chorus, and Aaron soared once again. After a psychedelic intro, "Just Go" saw Mike's endless headbang break through the blunt vocal violence. It's the most beautiful discord you can feel. Mike's playing sounds more Jimmy Page than ever, as he seamlessly shifts from distorted chords to clean passages on cuts like "Right Here" and "So Far Away."
"Pardon Me" allowed Mike to experiment even more with a dark and epic opening as Aaron screamed. It was just the right darkness for reprieve. An acoustic rendition of "The Corner" felt rapturous, while "Outside" proved another pop epiphany. Then there was "Spleen," which rumbled more than the previous night's earthquake, as Aaron screamed, "Can't breathe—shut up" through "I blame you" on the last crescendo. The song shook the crowd to its core, but Aaron and Co. didn't leave them in the dark. "It's Been Awhile" and "Mudshovel" were the perfect mix to end it all.
However, Aaron came back out once more for a truly acoustic rendition of "Intro." He announced, "The trick to this song is you have to be quiet because I'm not going to use the microphone."
Silence took over, and Aaron's voice resounded with a heavenly pain. It takes a hell of a lot of talent to shut L.A. up, but it takes even more to make them feel you. Staind did both.