By WILL KRISS
Stone Sour is one of those bands I never thought I would have the opportunity to see.
There was no Michigan date for this tour, so I seriously lucked out having the Chicago date fall during the same two days I was visiting. For those who are not already aware, Stone Sour is the first band of Corey Taylor, more famously known as the lead singer of Slipknot. The band also features Jim Root of Slipknot on guitar; however, he sat this tour out, as Slipknot is busy working on its new album. His replacement for this tour was Christian Martucci, who also played guitar for Dee Dee Ramone.
The venue itself is one of the coolest places I’ve been. As I plan on attending the Decibel Magazine Tour here in April, it was a bonus to be able to get a feel for the venue a little sooner. It reminded me of places such as The Fillmore in Detroit with the theater theme, except this one was a New Orleans voodoo-themed theater. Upon first entering, I remembered that the venue had multiple stages, and the smaller room up the stairs in front of me already had a blues group jamming out inside.
The line to get into the main area stretched almost to the door and wrapped around several velvet ropes to a separate staircase, where a big dry erase board proclaimed that the Stone Sour show had sold out. And it showed – I haven’t been in a tighter-packed venue since the sold-out Device concert at The Machine Shop last May.
Stolen Babies steal the show
When I went up the stairs initially, I actually had to go up to the balcony to watch the opening act Stolen Babies perform, since the bottom half was so tightly packed. They were just beginning their set by the time I got inside, and I was equally excited about seeing this band as I was for Stone Sour.
A few months ago, my Spotify recommended this band based on my consistent listening to Dog Fashion Disco and Polkadot Cadaver. I thought they sounded great on record, and now here I was getting to see them live. I could understand Pop Evil being an opener for Stone Sour, but Stolen Babies came as a bit of a surprise, albeit a good one.
Their actual music reminds me of Dog Fashion Disco (experimental/avant-garde metal), but the lead singer Dominique Lenore Persi has a beautiful cabaret-style singing voice reminiscent of Amanda Palmer of The Dresden Dolls. Watching her switch from this singing to death growls and back in an instant was impressive.
In addition, Persi also plays an accordion as her main instrument, which adds a layer of originality rarely seen in these types of bands. In addition to providing a unique sound, the songs were interlaced with a variety of bizarre sound effects and dance-tempo beats, with bass and guitar lines that sounded like something out of a classic funk group.
Overall, Stolen Babies was one of the best opening bands I’ve seen in a long time, and they have proven to be more than just a curiosity factor of a band. Not only did they do better than Pop Evil, but by the time they played their final song, they had completely won over the audience with their peculiar antics. For listeners who want to hear something different and unusual, look no further than this band.
I was extremely impressed with how well the sound balance of the Stolen Babies set was, but it wasn’t just luck – it was the venue itself. Every single band had absolutely perfect sound balance and quality. No instrument overpowered the other, and the vocals were album-quality crystal clear. In my experience, this doesn’t happen very often, so it added to my overall respect for the venue. Unfortunately, this didn’t work well in favor of Pop Evil for the first few songs.
Pop Evil off to slow start
Although I haven’t been as big a fan of Pop Evil in recent years as I used to be, I still do enjoy their music, and it’s been exciting to see how this rock band from Grand Rapids has evolved over the past six years. I remember when their debut album Lipstick on the Mirror first came out and hearing them explode all over Z-93 radio. The first time I saw them was when they were opening for The Sick Puppies in summer 2011 at the now-closed Chesaning Showboat. At that particular show, they were absolutely spot-on. With this in mind, I had some pretty high hopes for their performance. And they did a fine job, but not as well as I was hoping for.
They opened up with “Deal with the Devil,” but the perfect sound balance revealed that for the first few songs, something sounded off with lead singer Leigh Kakaty. I thought it was just me, but I talked to other people later the next day about it, and I wasn’t the only one who noticed.
Fortunately, whatever issues Kakaty was having seemed to disappear around song three or four, and he kicked it back into top gear. The rest of the set was an excellent blend of their discography, and they closed out their set with “Trenches,” revealing plans for a future tour with Five Finger Death Punch later this year.
Stone Sour lives up to hype
I’ve seen Slipknot three times, and each was spectacular, but seeing Stone Sour live is a completely different experience. It gives a chance to see the man behind the mask, and it proves that Corey Taylor is an absolute powerhouse of a vocalist, as well as an excellent showman. The lights dimmed, the curtains parted, and the band launched into the show with “House of Gold and Bones,” which is the ending track of the two-part album of the same name.
Taylor’s voice echoed around the theater with a commanding resonance, and the rest of the band was in full swing from the first note. Upon completion of the opening song, Stone Sour powered through their set with “RU486” from Part 1 of The House of Gold and Bones.
The crowd had a mosh pit going at this point that did not stop until the show was over, and people were moshing even during their softer songs such as “Through Glass” (a number one single when it was released in 2006) as if it were a Cannibal Corpse concert.
Knowing from Slipknot concerts that Taylor cares about the fans and takes time to interact with the crowd, it was great to see that he did the same here. He and the rest of the band made sure that the crowd knew they were grateful for the turnout and support. To be able to sell out a venue when it’s -40 degrees is an impressive feat indeed.
Right before they played “30-30/150,” Taylor spoke to the crowd about how much he loves playing shows in the Midwest, since he is from Iowa and knows what it’s like to grow up in that environment.
Stone Sour played an impressive range of material, even surprising the audience with old favorites from the first album such as “Inhale,” and, towards the end of the show, inviting the crowd for an acoustic sing-along of “Bother.” The last few songs were some of the best parts of the whole show. They ended the main set list with another Alice in Chains cover, this time with “We Die Young” before returning to the stage for the final encore of “Gone Sovereign” and “Absolute Zero.”
In short, Stone Sour succeeded in blowing down the House of Blues in what has been one of the best rock concerts I’ve had the pleasure to witness.