I have no idea if band members read these blog posts, or if this is simply a way for fans to gather, grinning, and agree on how much we love this music, but either way, I wanted to share a write-up I posted elsewhere (LiveJournal, Facebook) about seeing Staind in Kansas City on October 10th.
If you could fall in love with a voice--seduced by the words that voice is wrapping around--then I am in love with Aaron Lewis'.
Sometime in the winter of 2000/2001, I heard a song. I remember exactly where I was, too. Denver, CO. Sitting in the warmth of my Ford Focus while my then-fiance filled up the gas tank. The song was Outside. I sat, rapt with attention, until my man finally finished feeding the car and dropped back into his seat.
"Who is that?" I asked.
"That dude from Limp Bizkit... Fred someone..." he shrugged.
"No, not him," I replied, waiting until the lyrics: All the times that I've cried, all this wasted, it's all inside... and I feel... all this pain... stuffed it down... it's back again... "HIM."
"Oh, that's the lead singer from a group called Staind. I don't think you'd like them. Might be... harder than you like to listen to."
Up until that point, I'd been pretty mellow with my musical tastes--choosing not to expose my boyfriend to my "secret" collection of Metallica, Zeppelin, AC/DC, and the like. But after hearing that song--that voice, those words--I was so turned on to his music that I began to seek it out. Hunt it down. Search. The bf/fiance/husband was educated quickly and, as it turns out, we had some musical tastes in common.
From that moment, I've gathered Staind close to me--turning to Aaron's voice and my interpretation of his pain-laced words in times of familial drama and then, later, writing hurdles. There are times when I listen to his music and I think, Thank God I didn't have to live through that. And then there are moments--and these times are more frequent--when I feel as though he somehow stepped into my heart, consulted my memories, and tripped out a song that tore the secrets from inside and laid them bare inside a melody that was destined to haunt me.
Everything Changes gives me a twisted little bit of hope. I'd sing Zoe Jane to my (now three-year-old) daughter during sleepless nights. Devil has been my ode to my husband at different moments in our journey. Please is an occasional cry to my parents. It's Been Awhile is my apology... Epiphany, Right Here, So Far Away, Fade... all wrapped writing characters up inside of me and allowed me to pour out their perceived emotions and angst onto paper in such a way that strangers told me they heard the character's voices in my words.
With that little backstory, I bring you to Saturday night. The hubs and I aren't really concert-goers, per se. We will watch them on TV -- spent three hours with 311 in New Orleans once, wore out the Linkin Park Live in Dallas DVD, catch U2s Rattle and Hum whenever it comes back around -- but with our budget the way it is, it's an expense we can't really justify. Often.
And then there came the day when the hubs heard an announcement on 96.5 The Buzz out of Kansas City that Creed was coming to town, with the opening act of Staind. He came home, dropped that fact into casual conversation, and before I could roll through the rollercoaster of omgheshereintown... dontgetexcitedwecantaffordit... he had purchased tickets. I had roughly three months to build up anticipation. I knew that it wouldn't be a long set as they were just an opening act, but the idea of seeing them live--hearing Aaron's voice LIVE--was enough to have me grinning for no reason.
In those three month's time, things in our little family went from not-so-great, to way-worse, to slightly-better, to glimmer-of-hope, and are now balanced on the cusp of maybe-it-will-be-okay. Through it all, the hubs and I stood with fingers mentally laced together, buckling down, getting through it. Saturday night's date? Was a bit of a reward for surviving.
We got to the concert plenty early--I didn't want to miss a thing. There were some banners up on stage that I didn't recognize. A large moth (think cover of Silence of the Lambs) and the words "Like a Storm." *shrug* When the lights went down, however, it wasn't my boys on stage... instead three skinny guys from New Zealand (Like a Storm) scurried out (standing in front of the banners and giving the effect that they had wings) and yelled "Kansas City!" a lot, telling us we were awesome and asking us if we were ready for Creed. I was like, Creed, Schmeed, get it overwith already. They did their level-best to get the crowd worked up and screaming, and we complied because we were there to have fun.
They weren't bad--sounded very much like rock songs you'd hear at the end of CW's The Vampire Diaries. Best thing they did was a cover of Alice In Chains' Man In A Box. All I could think was that they were taking song time away from Staind, so get on with it already. They finished, roadies switched out the set, and the lights went down once more.
My heart started hammering. I was actually nervous-excited. I hadn't felt like that for something like this in quite some time. I'd warned the hubs to not expect much as far as 'show' from them because from what I'd seen on TV performances, Aaron's more of a "This is song" and he goes at it. I was right.
When they exploded with the first song, the lights and the video screen and the STAGE were all a bit overwhelming. We were sitting up a bit in the stadium section, facing the stage, and so the band members were approximately the size of G.I. Joe action figures, but then I found Aaron Lewis in the center and then the concert peeps (finally) got the mega screens working and... OMG, I was watching Staind.
First song ended, stage went dark, and after a 15-20 second count, the lights came up and there he was, his almost-shy, rumbling, I've lived three lifetimes since I was born and I remember every lesson voice was saying, "This song is called Right Here." And that's how he carried on. Once, he paused, saying, "I wanna ask you people back there something," meaning those of us on the stadium seats, far, far away, "what do you think of these people down front sitting at a f*cking rock concert." The stadium BOOed the foolish front-rowers and everyone on the floor rose to their feet as he sang For You.
If I wouldn't have been the only one in our section doing it, I would have been on my feet the whole time. As it was, I rocked my seat as my body felt the music, sang my throat raw (I sounded like Princess Leia in Jedi the next morning), whoo-hoo'd my bloody heart out. Half-way through their set, the lights went down after Fade, and when they came back it was just Aaron, on a barstool, accoustic guitar across his lap, and a sleep-eyed, slow grin on his face.
Now, if someone had never seen him before, I don't know that you'd instantly get "ROCK STAR" from him. He's averaged height. Shaved head. Jeans, T-shirt, sneakers. He was slimmer that night than I've seen in a lot of TV concerts or live performances. He's built a bit like a former high-school football player who layered some squishiness over the muscle. Tats are prevelent on his arms, hands, and neck--and I'm guessing elsewhere, though I've never seen.
His smile is reluctant and mostly a bit of a brief tug at the corner of his mouth, and his eyes are slightly hooded. He exposes so much pain and healing, life-lessons learned and realizations come by the hard way in his music that his person has the appearance of wary caution.
So when that spotlight hit him, I think the whole stadium took a breath. He says, "This song... was kind of... an accident waiting to happen." And then he rolls out the first chords of Outside. I was shocked by the number of lighters that instantly popped up. Some glowy phones, too, but mainly lighters. I was awed by him. I sang along with everyone else, but what I noticed, mostly, was how quiet the place became. Any rock star with a guitar and a good drummer can work a crowd up in a decent frenzy of excitement, but it takes a singer of a certain caliber (IMO) to bring them all down to the same level, hush them, and draw them into his spell. We sang his words and allowed him to mezmerize us.
Lights down, lights up, and the band came back strong with This Is It which gave the hubs a grin because that is the one song he and I both score high on in Rock Band. Me with the singing, hubs with the guitar. As he wrapped up It's Been Awhile, I knew we were coming close to the end and I was mentally asking for more time. Just before his last song, he thanked the fans for letting them do what they love for eleven years, thanked Creed for allowing them to come along, and ripped into Mudshovel with frenzy.
And then, they were done. My eyes were still dazzled when I turned to the hubs. He was like, "So?? What did you think?" All I could think to say was, "It wasn't long enough." *laugh*
They'd played for about 45 mins -- and they ran through maybe 10 songs in that time, both 'older' and from the most recent album, The Illusion of Progress. I know there's no way they could have hit on all the songs I love -- Fray, Believe, Blow Away, Save Me, The Corner, Come Again... but I simply wanted more. I wanted Creed to open for THEM.
The hubs and I debated for a moment, but decided that we didn't really love Creed and were just fine holding our Staind experience a bit longer... however, we hadn't been out together in months, so instead of heading home... we walked two blocks to a new movie theatre and went to see a movie.
On the way home, I was still buzzing from the concert and he was laughing at my youthful "Did you see when he..." "Did you catch how he..." "Didn't you love how they..."
I told him that I'd heard that Aaron Lewis was going on an accoustical tour soon, just tossing off the information in my torrent of Staind love, and he simply smiled and said, "I know."
I didn't press, but I won't be letting that little reveal go easy, I can tell you that much.
It was one of the best times I've had in a long, long while and the fact that I got to share it with my husband, that he got wrapped up in it all through me, will have me rolling on a music high for days to come.
Thank you, Aaron and band, for putting yourselves out there, for sharing your talent, and for giving voice to emotions and thoughts that otherwise might lay dorment or buried deep for want of an escape route.