To witness the increase in popularity in San Antonio over the years of one of the most consistent bands around has been a sight to behold for Sevendust fans.
Having debuted in 1997 with its hard-hitting self-titled debut CD, the Atlanta rockers, in recent years alone, have enjoyed a South Texas rise bordering on meteoric.
It doesn't seem too long ago that 500 fans were squeezing in like sardines in 2008 at Scout Bar, a near fire-hazard of a turnout that was one of that defunct venue's most intense and memorable shows. Throughout the ensuing couple of tours, there were indoor and outdoor concerts at Backstage Live (now Alamo City Music Hall), with vocalist Lajon Witherspoon inquiring as he does at just about every show: "Do you know who we are?"
The affirmative answers have become more emphatic with every visit.
Just last year, Sevendust played to its largest San Antonio crowd at that time, headlining the 99th annual Fiesta Oyster Bake at St. Mary's University to about 15,000. That concert provided a wide range of emotions for Witherspoon, whose tears of joy while revealing he was about to become a father gave way to grave concern when he witnessed bodysurfers being pulled down head-first by law enforcement overseeing the front of the stage (coverage here).
Then came Memorial Day Sunday's River City Rockfest.
Sevendust added another notch in its Alamo City arsenal, headlining the second stage of a festival that enjoyed its largest official fourth-year attendance of "more than 27,800" outside the AT&T Center. Touring in support of Kill the Flaw, Witherspoon and longtime mates John Connolly and Clint Lowery on guitars, bassist Vince Hornsby and drummer/backup vocalist Morgan Rose delivered another performance for the memory banks.
Witherspoon praised his friends in Rockfest peers Disturbed, P.O.D. and DevilDriver before adding of the 50-year group that had just completed its set on the main stage: "I can't believe we played a show last night (at Rocklahoma) and tonight with a beautiful band by the name of the f------ Scorpions."
Curiously, while opening with new tune "Not Today," Sevendust performed the first 1 minute, 45 seconds silhouetted behind a large curtain, forcing precious time for professional photographers who are customarily only allotted the first three songs of a concert to tick away (for what it's worth, P.O.D. and Scorpions allotted two songs). At last, the crowd, too, could fully see the band and start bouncing with other newbies such as 2016 Grammy nomination "Thank You" and older favorites "Praise," "Pieces," "Waffle" and "Face to Face."
Not even Lowery's mystifying use of a hoodie on one of the muggiest and hottest days of the year could stop Sevendust from again demonstrating the combination of musical quality and stage intensity that has made it a favorite in San Antonio and on the rock scene as a whole.
Or, to put it Rose's way: "You can't stop f------ with" . . . the metal machine known as Sevendust.
To watch an exclusive River City Rockfest interview with Hatebreed, click here. For festival coverage of other bands, click for headliners Disturbed plus Scorpions, Megadeth, Bullet For My Valentine, Sixx A.M., Hellyeah, DevilDriver, Red Sun Rising and The Sword, Avatar and San Antonio's The Heroine. Stay tuned for more on Hatebreed and Pop Evil.