Nevermore Wins Crowd Over at the Jaxx in Springfield, VA
Band Photo: Nevermore (?)
On Saturday May 6th, my friend, and I drove down to Virginia from northern New Jersey to see Nevermore, one of our favorite bands, headline at their one off show at the Jaxx with Evergrey the next day. We got to the show early to meet up with some friends, one of which is Will Bozarth from Distorted Mind, who assisted me during the interview process for my interview with guitarist Jeff Loomis (guitarist of Nevermore), since he knows the band from hanging out with them at previous shows. Will’s input added a new dimension to some of the questions and gave the interview a humorous edge. Sadly, I had lost the entire interview because of a technical accident with the recording equipment. Fortunately, I still have the questions and can hopefully recreate the experience on a later date. Interview troubles aside, in hindsight, this was one of the best concerts I’ve ever been to.
The first band was Apothys, a straight up aggressive thrash metal band, who put on a great energetic show. These guys even got some people really into the music and headbanging. They finished off their set with an excellent cover of Death’s ‘Crystal Mountain’. The highlight of this band was the drummer, as he’s got some real speed and technique, which is really needed to play any Death song. The band still seems pretty young, so I’m sure in a few years they will be a force to be reckoned with.
The next band up was Division, who were a very unique and experienced band. It is hard to label them into a single genre or even compare them to other bands. I found some of their songs to be a cross between thrash and traditional metal. They really captured the audience and were pretty intense on stage. They got people throwing fists and headbanging and some fans in the front were singing along. Division wrapped up their set with a cover of Metallica’s ‘Damage Inc.’. Sadly, Will and I were the only ones singing/screaming along for a while during the choruses and were heard by the whole crowd.
Evergrey took the stage after Division. Only part of the crowd was into them, though they left a good impression on me. This was odd as they were a headliner and Division looked like they got a better response at first. Though Evergrey’s music contains less energy than Division, I expected more from the crowd. They have a lot of breaks in their songs and are more focused on the vocals than the other instruments. I’m sure people enjoyed it, but it still felt as if I was singing alone rather than with a crowd. There were a few others singing as well, but not enough for a crowd worth. With a band that emphasizes on the vocals one would think that you’d hear more of the crowd singing along. Even if Evergrey didn’t get the crowd moving and singing, they put on one hell of a show. I expected them to be very tame on stage as most of their songs have a lot of slower parts, but they were running around, headbanging, and giving themselves quite a sweat. The one thing they really lacked that Division and Nevermore had was real fan interaction. They were there to deliver a good show, not to make a connection with the fans throughout the show. Though what they did was enjoyable, I found it got very redundant after about 5 songs. Early on in the set they said that they were having guitar trouble and may not proceed with their entire set. This caused excitement because that left a chance for a double set from Nevermore. During a break in a song, Evergrey allowed a man onstage who proposed to his girlfriend I was able to see this special event from the front row. She said yes and was allowed to stay on stage for the remainder of the song, but they walked off after a bit. The rest of Evergrey’s set was just as enjoyable as before the proposal.
Within the first few seconds of Nevermore’s intro, the previously tame crowd suddenly unleashed its fury. Being in the center of the front row I wasn’t aware of the amount of energy that the crowd had reserved. The band took the stage and started playing ‘Final Product’. The jumping, the pushing to the stage, the singing, the fist throwing, and the too much headbanging took place around me. I had no real way to take pictures at this point. Being surrounded by people my height to a foot taller than me and a guy behind me that was at least twice my weight and size, I realized that I was in a tight situation. I enjoyed every moment of the amount of sweat from other fans, being in front of Warrel Dane’s [singer] face as he belted out notes with his insane vocal abilities, seeing Jeff Loomis close enough to his fingers move across the frets on his guitar during solos. It was a great spot for me. Now the best surprise wasn’t the crowd, but that Jim Sheppard [bass] had flown out to play this one show, since he had be ill. The reason he flew out was rumored that his replacement, James McDonough, was unable to learn all of the songs of the headlining set due to time restraints. It was cool to see James McDonough play during the song Dead Heart in a Dead World. Right before he came on stage, Chris Broderick, the replacement guitarist for Steve Smyth for this show, and Jeff Loomis had a guitar duel. On the set list it was labeled as “Chris & Jeff Jack Off”. A video of this guitar duel can be see on YouTube. Both guitarists are amazing and this solo duel shows it better than anything I’ve seen on Chris Broderick’s site along with most stuff Jeff Loomis does in Nevermore. They put on a great show with lots of fan interaction. Warrel Dane was constantly interacting with the fans and their requests for songs. This shows how much Nevermore appreciates their fans. My friends and I agree that this was one of the best shows we’ve been to. Nevermore delivered an unbelievable performance without even playing some of their best material in their catalogue.
The only disappointments were out of personal preference. For example, Nevermore didn’t play any old songs. Their newer songs are great, but I wish there were some songs off of their album The Politics of Ecstasy that I really wanted to experience live. They played one song off of Dreaming Neon Black, but I had hoped for a few more. Other than that one song, they played songs off the three latest CDs. I wish they’d played older tunes, but hearing them play their newer material, which I had previously not loved as much as the older, only reminded me of the fact that Nevermore can’t make a bad song.
Overall the May 7th, 2006 show at the Jaxx was one of the best shows I've ever been to, from the exceptional musicianship to the warmth and united energy of the crowd created an experience that could not be replaced.
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