8STOPS7 performs at 10:30 p.m. at the Aerial Theater.
8STOPS7 performs at 10:30 p.m. at the Aerial Theater.
Michael Lewis


Time was, one could write some rock material, perform it well on a stage as written and that was enough. No need for market-driven subgenre pigeonholes on the creative side, or technological assistance on the performance side. Some bands try to do this today. Many of them come off sounding either dated (Billionaire) or as simply a slight twist on what's already going on (Godsmack). 8STOPS7, however, while traveling down familiar paths, manages to make that same old rock sound both contemporary and innovative.

Part of what makes this work is the fact that the band can perform as either heavy or laid-back with equal ability. Neither end of the repertoire is gratuitous. No token ballads and no token anthems are anywhere to be heard. This is particularly true live, where the more down-tempo numbers take on greater vibrancy and the heavy stuff sounds even more organic than it does on the band's major-label debut, In Moderation. Vocalist, guitarist and lyricist Evan Sula-Goff has described the broad range of material presented on 8STOPS7's album as intentional, to help prevent the band from being forced into any particular style for the rest of its career.

Sula-Goff, who performed solo/acoustic on the Southern California coffeehouse circuit before 8STOPS7 formed, strikes a balance on In Moderation between reflective release, through which he seems to want to set the world straight, and an external, even romantic, yearning. On "Empty," Sula-Goff declares: "I just need to be found." When such universal themes are delivered live by Sula-Goff and the rest of the band (Seth Watson and Aaron Johnson on guitars, Adam Powell on bass and Alex Viveros on drums), each a showman and an outstanding musician, the power is cathartic.

The members range between 20 and 23 years old, so even though a certain amount of success has already been achieved (no more playing frat parties and high schools, that's for sure), the best probably still lies ahead.


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