I felt a mix of elation and nostalgia while on Thursday night I drove almost 100 miles to catch the first show of the Staind Summer 2021 tour with Korn, happening at the iTHINK Financial Amphitheatre in West Palm Beach, exactly 514 days since my last concert in March of 2020.
To say it was hot and humid would be to state the obvious. It’s Florida, and summer is in full swing, therefore you could spot some bikinis amidst the audience that slowly but surely filled the amphitheater – all the way to the lawn area – ready to enjoy the magic of a live concert once again after being denied the normalcy of such events for such a long period of time; a lockdown which somehow turned them into a distant memory.
With front-man Aaron Lewis taking a break from his country-driven solo material, multi-platinum rockers Staind are back to the touring circuit, breaking the hiatus that started in 2014, and they opened the night in a full aggressive fashion with the hypnotic and chaotically melodic “Eyes Wide Open,” which segued into “Open Your Eyes.” Even though they are not in their 20’s anymore, the quartet easily demonstrated why they have been considered one of modern’s music most provocative and commanding acts, pairing their belligerent hard-rock energy with the raw, heartfelt lyricism of their iconic songs. Lewis sang with the same passion he would in the 90s and walked slowly around the stage when we wasn’t behind the mic, with lead guitarist Mike Mushok and bassist Johnny April moving frenetically in both sides, head-banging and adding a kinetic element to the experience, while fill-in drummer Chad Szeliga – who reportedly learned the entire band’s setlist for the tour in 24 hours – held the tight drumming section together from his elevated drum throne, propelling the energy of the band’s sound and effortlessly keeping the tempo.
More anthems in the form of “Fade”, “Raw”, “Right Here”, and the top crowd-pleaser and “coup de grace” cut “It’s Been Awhile” made presence throughout a 13-song setlist – which combined fan favorites with other deeper tracks like “Not Again”, “Crawl”, “Paper Wings”, and “Mudshovel”. Such songs literally solidified the impending sensation of traveling through time, with Lewis grinning and strumming his guitar or holding the mic stand while belting the familiar verses, flanked by the unwavering melodies coming off Mushok and April’s instruments. The electricity in the crowd was unambiguous, and Staind found themselves swaggering and standing tall, once again making a compelling case that witnessing live music played by talented musicians is an irreplaceable and magical experience.
In their capacity to deliver a rock-solid live performance one can make a case that the members of Staind have their craft down to a science. No matter how many times they must have performed many of the songs on their set, their execution was spotless, and certainly reflected in an audience that raised their glasses and cheered with almost every note, and applauded long and hard even as the band was leaving the stage. Certainly, a remarkable night of live music, one which hopefully will be repeated with future tours in the coming years. If you’re reading this and have a chance to catch the remaining dates on this tour, this is certainly not one to miss.
Eyes Wide Open / Open Your Eyes / Not Again / Fade / Raw / Right Here / Crawl / Outside / Paper Wings / So Far Away / For You / It’s Been Awhile / Mudshovel