Aaron Lewis Verizon Wireless Theater November 1, 2010
As Aaron Lewis walked out onto the stage at Verizon Wireless Theater last night, he was met with a roar of applause - audience members stood from their seats, cheering and carrying on, while Lewis smiled, waved and took a seat in front of his four guitars and an enormous American-flag backdrop.
The first thing Lewis said was that he had not prepared for the evening.
"All I did was smoke a joint," he said with a smirk, as the crowd screamed.
Aftermath was hesitant about the show originally, because we've never been too impressed with the quality of bands' performances at Verizon. And this was an acoustic show to boot? Surely they were kidding.
But to our surprise, the sound quality was amazing, and although we've heard negative things about Lewis as a live performer, he was on point last night. It really couldn't have been better.
He began the set with "Anywhere But Here," a song from his solo album, which we really hope wasn't at all associated with his visit to Houston.
"What's the score?" Lewis asked the crowd, referencing the Houston/Indianapolis game then in progress. In the midst of all the replies from the crowd, one man voiced his distaste for New England quarterback Tom Brady, to which Massachusetts native Lewis coolly answered, "You're just mad he's not your quarterback," while lighting a cigarette.
After a few more of songs of his solo album, Lewis played what could best be described as an eclectic homage to artists far and wide - we still aren't sure whether he was playing songs he liked or mocking other musicians. Either way though, it made everyone smile, laugh and applaud.
After performing Creed's "With Arms Wide Open," he told the crowd: "I didn't take my shirt off for the full effect, but I was trying to do [the song] justice."
From Guns N Roses to Creed, Cyndi Lauper to Justin Timberlake, Lewis played everything and even took suggestions from the crowd.
"Did someone just yell out, 'Chumbawumba'?" Lewis asked. "That's fucked up... why would you want to hear me play that? Any other requests?"
But the fans' shout outs didn't conclude with requests. One woman a few rows behind us screamed, "Will you marry me?"
Unfazed, Lewis continued tuning his guitar and silently held up his left hand to show his wedding band.
"Sorry, sweetheart," he said, "but someone beat you to it."
He then went on to perform a few Staind songs, to which the onlookers sang along.
Normally, singalongs at acoustic performances are annoying - people, you're drowning out the person we all paid to hear - but no one in the crowd was too loud, and it actually added to the song; it was like an echo effect with surround sound.
At 8:30 p.m., the crowd began to get rowdy. We were worried that Lewis would erupt in a similar fashion to Built to Spill's Doug Martsch last month at House of Blues. But he stayed calm, mingled and somehow kept the crowd at bay.
After performing "Country Boy," the single off his new album, Lewis proceeded to further connect with the crowd. Specifically, he told one story about how he nearly chopped his arm off while cutting down trees in his yard with a chainsaw. He began the story with a laugh but, as if his wife was in the back of the crowd giving him a disapproving look, his tone changed at the end.
"It was very irresponsible," he said. "But hey, I like cutting trees and playing on my tractor... and I've been told I look good on a tractor; my shirt off and my man-boobs flopping around."
For his encore, he brought his stool to the edge of the stage and without his microphone or his PA, he belted out another tune for everyone. It nearly didn't happen though, because the crowd couldn't keep still at first.
Lewis had asked the crowd, before performing sans mike and PA, that they would need to stay quiet in order to hear his last song. At first, they didn't listen... but after a few seconds of Lewis awkwardly staring into the crowd, everyone settled down and enjoyed it.
Before performing "It's Been Awhile," Lewis talked of when he first wrote the song 17 years ago. He would play it in bars in between Lynyrd Skynyrd, Pink Floyd and other covers, at which time, he said, bar patrons would either use the restroom, order drinks or step outside for drinks.
For this reason, he said, it's especially satisfying for him to perform the song now.
Say what you will about the kind of music he plays, but Aaron Lewis made Monday a lot of fun. So thanks, Aaron. We had a great time.
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Personal Bias: We dug Staind in middle school, but we didn't expect much from Lewis' solo performance. Shame on us for judging prematurely.
The Crowd: Lots of Ed Hardy and Afflicted T-shirts... loud and boisterous... all-too familiar with Lewis' music.
Overheard in the Crowd: "Freebird!!"
Random Notebook Dump: Did we get tricked into liking country music? We did!!