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by Andy Lyons
Managing Editor

Fans of all ages filled all three levels of the Arvest Bank Theatre at the Midland Thursday night for Sevendust.

The group got personal Thursday night at the Midland, as the current tour is an acoustic one. The typically heavy metal group reworked songs of their own and a couple of covers for the tour. What would normally give fans some hesitation ended up a beautiful night of music and interaction, as lead singer Lajon Witherspoon constantly talked to the crowd and made his way to the sides of the stage to sing to the crowd.

The acoustic tour is in support of their fan-funded acoustic 10th album, “Time Travelers & Bonfires” that released last month.

Sevendust has a special place for me as a concert goer. I had seen them five times before this show, including my first concert in 2002. Songs like “Denial” and “Black” are some of the most listened to on my iTunes. The group has always had a fierce live show, and I typically catch them in support of one of my favorite groups, Korn. It was really special to see them stripped down in an acoustic set.

The fans really reacted well to the acoustic versions. There was no shortage of metal horns in the air and fist pumping. There were also plenty of couples in the crowd wrapped up in each other swaying in unison to some of the slower songs.

Witherspoon constantly talked about the intimate relationship the group has with its fans. Between songs he’d talk about the sense of family between the group and their fans. It was accentuated by the people standing side-stage, which included small children. Before the show I was talking to some friends in attendance, and they said the group had their families with them for this tour. It was pretty unusual, especially for a metal band. There were also a lot of children in the crowd, so I feel parents, fans and band members included, felt it was a bit safer with the acoustic set.The crowd was noticeably tamer than at a typical metal show.  I was really surprised, but as the show went on and the cheers reverberated off the façade in the Midland, it was clear that the fans were receiving the acoustic set really well.

Opener and up-and-coming band Sidewise went the opposite route, playing a fully electric set. They did a good job of getting the crowd ready as all three levels of the Midland filled up for Sevendust. Their music is a mix of melodic singing and guttural singing, and guitars to match. Lead singer Nicouses some distortion to make his vocals sound a bit monotone, in a good way, in different songs which I thought was interesting. They got heavier later in the set and received a lot of cheers in exchange.

It’s always interesting to see how a metal band will stay interesting. Sevendust nailed it with their acoustic set. I’ve only seen them as a headliner once, more than ten years ago, and this concert was really impressive. Seeing how they reworked their own song, and included covers such as “Don’t Stop Believing,” “Master of Puppets,” and “Edge of Seventeen,” and then Nine Inch Nail’s famous song “Hurt” was really amazing.

The crowd wasn’t a rowdy as usual, no mosh pits, but there was plenty of fists pumping and crowd surfers coupled with the heavy base of the drums the show still retained that metal show feel. There’s always something special, something visceral, when a band plays an acoustic set and Sevendust didn’t disappoint.

More photos from the show will be available Saturday afternoon.

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