For those of you that may have missed the announcement in November, Sevendust has a crowdfunding campaign going right now for a new acoustic album. The album is being recorded at Architekt Music in Butler, NJ, the same studio where the band’s 2013 album Black Out the Sun was recorded. The campaign has already been a huge success, considering that the band hit their funding goal in just five days, and the rewards that the band offered to pledgers were undoubtedly a big reason for that. One of the rewards that sold out fairly quickly was admission to a private listening party and concert at Architekt, which took place last Saturday. Being a fan of the band for nearly a decade, there was no way I was missing this event.
Despite the freezing cold, the line for the event stretched around the corner over an hour before doors opened. And true to form, the Sevendust faithful came out from near and far to see this special concert. Just in the line outside the venue, I talked to fans from Pennsylvania, Virginia, North Carolina, Tennessee, Ohio, Maryland, and Massachusetts, all of whom had driven from their respective home states to New Jersey for the event. I’m certain that others flew in from other states to see this, making it a country-spanning affair.
Once inside Architekt’s live space, attendees were immediately treated to the amazing food of Chef Eric Levine, the 2011 champion of Food Network’s Chopped and recipient of numerous national and international honors. A variety of appetizers and finger-food treats were available, topped off with some exquisite desserts that put everyone in the right mood for some great music. It was one of the many small touches that helped to make it such a special night for the fans. If you’re ever in the area and want to try Chef Eric’s food, head to his restaurant Morris Tap & Grill. You’ll find some Sevendust-themed food on his menu, even!
Following the food and a short introduction by Kayla Riley of Sirius/XM’s Octane, the listening party segment of the night began, and it was immediately certain that this new acoustic album was not going to be a typical acoustic release from a hard rock band, nor was it going to be a mere sequel to 2004’s Southside Double-Wide. For one thing, instead of just making acoustic versions of old songs to fill the entire album, Sevendust actually wrote entirely new songs that comprise half of the record. Six entirely new compositions were written and recorded just for this release, and will be heard alongside acoustic renditions of classic Sevendust tracks like “Denial”, “Crucified”, “Karma”, and others. On top of that, the older songs that appear on this release are not just acoustic re-recordings of the same arrangements. Sevendust went the extra mile and re-imagined some of these songs, so that their acoustic versions sound like entirely new pieces that blossomed into their own existence. The new arrangement of “Crucified” is my personal favorite, adding a distinct Southern vibe and giving the whole song a different flavor from the original. The crowd loved every second of the album preview, cheering for every song as if the band was actually on stage playing. If the crowd’s reaction to the album is at all indicative of how it will be received by most other Sevendust fans, then this album may turn out to be one of the most successful records of the band’s career.
After a short break, Sevendust took the stage for their performance. It was clear from the start that every single one of them was having a great time and enjoying the close-knit, intimate setting that Architekt offers for live shows. Fans close to the stage received a constant stream of high-fives and singalong opportunities from Lajon Witherspoon, who sang with just as much energy and passion as he shows in a full electric performance. Bassist Vinnie Hornsby engaged in his usual banter with fans, making faces and laughing at their reactions, while guitarist John Connolly couldn’t keep a smile off his face for the entire show. Meanwhile, Clint Lowery and Morgan Rose instigated plenty of wildly funny moments throughout the show that had fans laughing nonstop between songs. Some of the highlights included a spontaneous acoustic version of the Sevendust classic “Rumble Fish” (known as one of the heaviest songs in their catalog) that suddenly turned into “Sweet Home Alabama”; a completely over-the-top acoustic version of “Walkin’ the Streets at Night”, the hidden track from Lowery’s last EP for his Hello Demons Meet Skeletons project; and best of all, a sped-up version of “Got a Feeling” with a country two-step drum beat. Nothing was off-limits during this show, and both the fans and the band loved every second.
The show ended with a VIP meet and greet for every single attendee, which included photos with the band, autographs, and time for conversation. Given how hard it sometimes can be to speak to a performer at a live event, this was a final treat that capped off an unforgettable night for the fans lucky enough to attend the show. I’m incredibly happy that I got to be part of this special night. If you missed out on the event, keep an eye out for the acoustic album’s release, which is currently scheduled for April. And if you want to contribute to the pledge campaign for the album and get some of the other awesome rewards that are still available, head on over to PledgeMusic and make your donation.