Live Review: Staind & Papa Roach – San Manuel Casino, Highland
Fri, 19 Dec 2008 10:38:04
The San Manuel Casino's club looks like The Shining's Overlook Hotel ballroom. It's large, airy and ominous with classically tacky decor. However, last night, instead of Jack Nicholson and Stanley Kubrick's psychotic head trip, visitors to the San Manuel ballroom received a blitz of kinetic hard rock from Staind and Papa Roach. Both bands took the audience down a separate road. Papa Roach brought them down a decaying and burning Sunset Boulevard, while Staind opted for a more psychedelic, progressive trip into damaged and dysfunctional psyches. Regardless, door one and door two both led to an amazing show.
Staind remain one of the best acts to emerge from the late '90s rock scene, and they're more relevant than ever. The Massachusetts quartet kicked things off with the backbreaking riffs of "Suffocate." Lewis oscillated from a guttural, piercing growl to an entrancing, ethereal croon that could wake Layne Staley. However, he doesn't need any help; he's a presence in his own right. After "Suffocate" battered and bruised, the band descended into the volatile "Falling." Guitarist Mike Mushok thrashed around with an unmatched energy, never missing a riff. "Right Here" provoked a massive sing-a-long, as it segued from the acoustic intro into pure chugging, while "So Far Away" showcased the rhythmic brilliance of Johnny "Old School" April and Jon Wysocki behind the kit.
"Pardon Me" took the band into a dark place, as the screen behind them showed lost-in-the-woods footage, a la The Blair Witch Project. Midway through the new track, Mike pulled out a rapturous solo. Then, Aaron's voice simply hypnotized during "Epiphany," a soulful and poignant acoustic number that he performed alone. "For You" saw Aaron grab the mic and spill his demons all over the stage. He held his hand over his heart as if to prevent it from spilling out, but his catharsis more than comforted the crowd. His screams were better than any therapist's advice for these diehards.
There's no one like Aaron. He can channel a satanic roar that's as unsettling as it is relieving, or he can lull a crowd into a dream. It's the true dichotomy inherent in a unique singer. "Outside" showed the softer side. Aaron was all smiles beforehand, describing the song as having started as an accident. However, everything descended back into Hell during "Spleen," as the sound swung like a guillotine of distortion.
"Believe" sailed into pop ecstasy, further evincing Staind's versatility. The hits work everywhere though, and right before the band's breakout "It's Been Awhile," Aaron smiled and joked, "I guess the evening wouldn't be the same without this next song."
Whereas Lewis is laconic and introspective, Papa Roach's frontman Jacoby Shaddix is explosive and extroverted. He was the perfect foil, and he and his cohorts rounded out the evening well. Like some menacing maven of metal, Jacoby flashed a devilish grin that'd rival Heath Ledger's Joker. However, he's also got a tangible energy that can spark up any venue his band plays .
Papa Roach set the room off with Infest's anti-commercialism diatribe "Between Angels and Insects." Jacoby bobbed and weaved around the stage like a prizefighter primed for that one knockout punch. He nailed it on the last bridge, screaming, "Fuck your money, fuck your possessions, fuck your obsession, I don't need that shit." Way past the glossy veneer of Los Angeles's city limits, the crowd roared in absolution.
Next, on "To Be Loved," bassist Tobin Esperance bolted down an airtight groove that was as infectious as it was incendiary. The bass player shined, churning out line after line of pure power, as he locked in with the band's vibrant new drummer, Tony Palermo. "Getting Away With Murder" pushed Jacoby to spiral into vocal madness, while taking the crowd with him. On "Lifeline," the first of two phenomenal new cuts, Jerry shined with a snaky and smooth riff, a la Eddie Van Halen. However, he injected a personal sense of grit and gusto into the classic style. The new song's chorus bounced so much that the floor shook as the audience left their feet. Meanwhile, Jacoby ventured into the crowd nailing each note and exclaiming, "I've got to bring the rock to the motherfuckin' people," after finishing up.
Papa Roach's fifth studio record, Metamorphosis, may not drop until March 24th, but the band gave the audience a sharp new taste of it regardless. Brandishing that evil smile once more, he aimed "Hollywood Whore" right at Paris Hilton. The song is one of the band's best. Seguing from a soft opening into another winding riff, the cut is a foray into the darkness inherent in Hollywood. From the bathroom floor to the house in the hills, the song strikes it all like an atom bomb with vitriolic, smart lyrics and an epic vibe that'd make Metallica wince.
The band's last dual atom bomb, "Broken Home" and "Last Resort," left the sweaty fans begging for more, and it's no doubt Metamorphosis will satisfy that hunger.
After Staind finished their enthralling set with "Mudshovel," a few things were clear. Even though many of Papa Roach's and Staind's peers have gone the way of the dinosaur (or are just working at Burger King), these two bands have weathered the industry's changing tides. They represent a rock n' roll spirit that'll never die, and they're willing to challenge themselves and change. All in all, it was quite a memorable trip to the Overlook Motel…err…San Manuel Casino. It was far from "All work and no play."