Dust storm rising

Atlanta hard-rock act Sevendust gets sweaty at the Senator

DUST IN THE SEN Lajon Witherspoon of Sevendust at Monday’s show at the Senator.

DUST IN THE SEN Lajon Witherspoon of Sevendust at Monday’s show at the Senator.

Photo by Tom Angel

Last Monday night, the Senator Theatre became a sticky sauna for a crowd of 500 or so sweaty concertgoers gathered for popular hard-rock act Sevendust, from Atlanta.

Opening for Sevendust was Dragpipe, a hardcore rock group from New York. The band filled its half-hour set with material from its first album, to be released in August, Music for the Last Day of Your Life, with each abrasive and obnoxiously played song getting louder than the previous one. Dragpipe’s pace kept building, backed by strong drumbeats and a blond, mohawked lead singer who let out angry screams into his microphone. While the band’s set eventually seemed to, well, drag, the group made up for it with an impressive, one-of-a-kind look. Besides the plethora of tattooed artwork on each of the band members, one guitarist wore a broad black cowboy hat, while the bass guitarist maintained a wide silly grin through the entire show like he couldn’t even hear the singer yelling at the top of his lungs.

Strobe lights sparked brightly, fists pounded the air in unison, and the strange sounds of a banjo introduced the headlining band from Atlanta. Suddenly the lights changed to a sheer green hue, making the silhouettes of the band members appear “rock god"-like, as they started off with their latest single, “Live Again,” off the 2001 album Animosity.

Lead singer Lajon Witherspoon rocked the Senator from the very start with his emotionally demanding vocals and intense stage presence. Another key player, drummer Morgan Rose, kept the show flowing by performing brief drum solos at the beginning of every song from his elevated platform, while other band members cooled off before jamming hard to the next song. Somehow, these drum solos never seemed to get repetitive, as Rose’s short blond dreadlocks bounced wildly in rhythm to his intense drumming.

Clad in a “wife-beater” T-shirt, bass player Vince “Vinnie” Hornsby kept the fans happy as he worked the front row, encouraging people to raise their fists in the air and tossing out guitar picks whenever he had a chance. Clint Lowery provided back-up vocals and, together with guitarist John Connolly, delivered a sound that was clear and unwaveringly strong for the mostly 17-year-olds in the audience.

The mosh pit at the show was practically non-existent, probably because the sweltering heat would have made a mosher pass out in minutes. Instead, concertgoers sufficed with head bobbing and fist beating to show their support.

Sevendust slowed the pace down a notch when it played “Angel’s Son,” a chillingly spiritual song dedicated to Lynn Strait, a close friend of the musicians who died. The touching lyrics sung by Witherspoon showed the potential depth of the band, ensuring more to come from these soulful rockers from the South.

For its encore performance, Sevendust blasted through "Crucified" and its hit single "Praise" from its latest album. The crowd chanted the lyrics with Witherspoon as he declared that Chico fans had great energy. As the night wound down and the theater doors opened, releasing the steamy heat from the room, contented rock fans exited the building abuzz with adulation for a passionate hard-rock band.