Monday, February 21, 2011

Concert Review: Aaron Lewis of Staind @ Westbury, NY 2/20/2011

It took me two tunnels to get to this venue rather quickly from NJ, probably because I was filled with anticipation for the evening. Staind's Aaron Lewis was performing an acoustic set! His vocals when he performs with Staind are extraordinarily mesmerizing, which is proven by their lack of pyrotechnics and a flashy light show to captivate their audience - simply great, emotional lyrics sung by a talented vocalist and well-played instruments. Though he does perform acoustically with the band, especially when singing "Outside," this would be different since it was going to be just him, a mic and a guitar.

When Aaron first gets on stage donning a black Jack Daniel's t-shirt, a black baseball cap and jeans, he takes his guitar and sits down on the stool. The stage was set up eerily similar to an episode of VH1 Storytellers, with a rug in the middle of the stage, a couple of stools, his cigarettes, a couple microphones and guitar cases. This was perfect for the Theatre at Westbury's mini amphitheater set-up. People were singing along, drunks were shouting out song requests (with the super comedic Aaron answering them back or singing a couple lines of the requested song), and couples were canoodling. Everything attributed to the very intimate ambiance that created the feeling that you were either in a busy coffee shop, Aaron's garage jam session practice, or a small shit-hole bar.

Not being familiar with this type of show, I assumed he was simply going to sing many songs off of his new solo album, Town Line, which comes out March 1st. I don't know Aaron personally, but with my experience seeing him perform with Staind numerous times, he's seemingly shy, reserved, and private. But, the entire night was filled with a very light-hearted and open side of Aaron. He continuously cracked jokes, threw f-bombs, and opened up about details about his family life through his very impassioned and sentimental new songs. After a song or two, he had his bus driver, Ben Kitterman (yes!! his bus driver!!), come out and play his acoustic dobro guitar to accompany him for the rest of the show. It was well worth the nearly $50 ticket, since you were getting a  rare musical experience and a hilarious comedy show in one.

The two and a half hour set (straight, no intermission) included MANY cover songs, or clips of songs. He played parts of "Rainbow Connection" (in Kermit's voice...he even joked that Kermit's finger smelled like bacon HA!!), Cyndi Lauper's "Time after time," Bruce Springsteen, Rick Springfield's "Jessie's Girl," and MANY more. I have a couple clips for you to watch/listen to below. (I apologize for the visual quality, since there was a Nazi security guard that was going up to everyone with a camera to tell them to put it away). He also poked major fun at Scott Stapp by singing Creed's "Arms Wide Open" while cracking his voice and singing out of tune. He also stated very sarcastically that he should stop so that Scott doesn't beat him up, but then said his bus driver would never allow it. :) 

Aaron singing Cyndi and Kermit (you can't see anything in the video, just listen...damn security guard!!):

I'd describe the songs off of Aaron's solo effort as incredibly emotional and raw tinged with his country roots. It isn't necessarily fully rock or fully country, yet a melange of the two. The lyrics were much more personal, even naming his daughter's names in one of his songs. He has some love songs and even one where he referred to his song as "I'm wearing my vagina on my sleeve for this one." Though he probably loves playing the hardcore rock shows with Staind where moshpits are rampant, this seems to be a very welcome outlet for Aaron to let go and explore other sides of his creativity. Each song told a story, but from what I gathered from the touching lyrics and softness of the songs, is that Aaron loves his daughters immensely, his wife unconditionally and his country forever. He refers to crying a few times, which is touching that his tough guy exterior would admit to his sensitivity when it comes to his family. He loves his freedom and hometown and hates the judgmental, pretentious people that act perfect. His last song, which he came out to perform alone for the encore, consisted of him coming out with his guitar and sitting with the microphone behind him. Everyone hushed as he sang a thank you song to those who put up with him while concurrently including f*ck yous to those who are fake.

Thank you, Aaron Lewis, for an incredibly chill Sunday evening and for showing another side of you. I, for one, will DEFINITELY be buying your album on March 1st and I highly recommend others to do so as well.

Aaron singing "Outside" :

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