Staind rose to fame in the last few years of the twentieth century. With a propensity for mixing brooding, dark lyrics with crunchy guitar riffs, the Massachusetts quartet forged quite a following for themselves. Although less active as a collective for the last 12 years, they still find time to tour on occasion. This is all dependent on lead singer and rhythm guitarist Aaron Lewis’ schedule as a solo country artist. Adding to the scheduling hurdles is lead guitarist Mike Mushok’s work with Saint Asonia. Saturday evening September 17th saw stop number seven of a 12 date tour. The setting was the Yaamava Casino Theater in Highland, CA. Nestled at the base of the San Bernardino Mountains, the gaming destination boasts a state of the art entertainment hall. Staind utilized this platform to thrill the estimated 2,400 Gen-Xers who braved Interstate 210 traffic to see them churn out their hits.
The group has been pretty stable as far as membership over the years. The only non-original member is drummer Sal Giancarelli, a member for 11 years. His style of pounding in a war-dance style resonated throughout the cavernous hall. Bassist Johnny April acted as a second percussion player. His pumping bass lines setting the undertone of the melancholy theme of many of the band’s songs. The set consisted of 14 numbers including Eyes Wide Open, So Far Away and Right Here. Mushok would spend most of the set bent over at the left of the stage. He alternated between grinding out raunchy riffs and tweeting high pitched leads. Lewis, whose voice was in great form, very delicately exuded the lyrics of the verses. In contrast, that very same set of vocal chords roared out the now seemingly out of place growling.
After the main set concluded, the Bay Staters return to the stage for a two song encore. Lewis has garnered much attention and negative press for his political diatribes, both on and off stage. There would be no denunciation on this evening. However, before beginning the final two numbers, Lewis addresses the audience. He tells them, “I’m really not gonna say much, I say too much at my other shows. I think my shirt and my hat says everything anyways.” What he was referring to were his choice of wardrobe for the evening. He wore a shirt that was adorned with the words “NOT POLITICALLY CORRECT.” For his dome, he sported a baseball cap emblazoned with “F#CK NEWSOM.” The only other political statement he would make on the evening would come in the song entitled Intro. A line in one of the choruses says, “Fuck you and the judgments that you make, we’re not all perfect just like you.” He changed the back half of that line to, “…we’re not all Democrats like you.” This little edit was met with mostly a positive roar from the crowd.
Back to the music, the first of the two postscript pieces is what may be their biggest hit. The crowd sings along with It’s Been A While with hands raised high. The finale of the evening, Mudshovel, begins with a loping bass line and is joined by a moaning guitar riff. Staind leaves the stage with Mushok’s guitar reverberating in a high pitch squeal. The hour and forty-minute performance hits all the right spots and leaves the audience appearing very satisfied. Staind is set to wrap up this current tour on September 24th in Oklahoma. Only a few more opportunities to catch this swing if you are so inclined.
CLICK HERE to view photo gallery.