Last Night: Disturbed And Avenged Sevenfold At The Woodlands

Disturbed, Avenged Sevenfold, Stone Sour Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion September 12, 2010

Say what you will about the genre - it's too radio-friendly, too mainstream, not hipster enough, if the Buzz plays it, you don't like it - but Stone Sour, Avenged Sevenfold and Disturbed all put on fantastic live performances.

Stone Sour was scheduled to play at the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion at 7:30 p.m. Sunday, so as Aftermath arrived a little before 7 p.m., we assumed that we had plenty of time to get in and get photos. But as we approached the venue, Corey Taylor's voice was already ringing through the air; coupled with Will Call's trouble finding our tickets, we didn't get there in time to get any photos.

But we did get to hear Stone Sour's entire set, which was comprised of a good mix of old and new material. "Buy it, steal it, download it; I don't care," Taylor said of the band's new CD, Audio Secrecy. "It's a good fucking album."

And it's true. Aftermath was genuinely bummed that we didn't make it inside the gates in time to snag photos, because Stone Sour is one of those bands whose music you may like, but whose live performances make you love them. Taylor's voice soared above the crowd's heads as the bass and drums reverberated through their chests. And the show wasn't devoid of impressive guitar riffs, either.

These guys are tried-and-true musicians, and we enjoyed the hell out of their set.

Avenged Sevenfold may not have headlined Rockstar Energy Drink's Uproar Tour - the official name of Sunday's package - but they might as well have; you wouldn't have known it by the crowd's reception, their setup onstage or the caliber of their performance.

As the curtains dropped from the ceiling, so did a man with a noose around his neck. He struggled for a bit then went limp, at which point members of the band emerged from backstage to roars of applause.

After their first song, "Nightmare," a stretcher was rolled out, and the man - a real guy, not a mannequin (stuntman, perhaps?), who dangled from the rafters, lifeless-like, for the entire song - was bagged up and wheeled offstage. It reminded us of My Chemical Romance's tour behind The Black Parade, which began with vocalist Gerard Way emerging from a gurney to perform the album.

Thirty minutes into the set, the mood became somber, and vocalist M. Shadows asked everyone in the crowd to put their lighters and cell phones in the air as they performed "So Far Away," which they dedicated to the memory of their former drummer, James "The Rev" Sullivan, who died of a drug overdose in 2009.

The group, as a whole, was far better than we expected them to be; their music, which is complicated, fast and oftentimes erratic, isn't cover-band friendly. Aftermath half-expected AS to be terrible compared to their albums, but we were wrong, and the performance was on par with the quality of their recordings.

By the end of Avenged Sevenfold's set, it was clear that Disturbed had some big shoes (and a few extra seats) to fill. Everyone seemed to disperse afterward, and while some of them came back with food and drink, it looked like the Pavilion had emptied quite a bit before Disturbed even took the stage.

The lawn stayed full, but many of the seats became vacant. And compared to the way Avenged Sevenfold commanded both the stage and the crowd, Disturbed didn't quite measure up. It wasn't a poor performance, but it wasn't as impressive either.

Disturbed's set wasn't nearly as varied as Avenged Sevenfold's, which was as much a theatrical performance as something meant to stimulate listeners' eardrums. Disturbed, though, stuck to the old-school, typical alt-rock performance: Lots of screaming, back-to-back songs without any interaction with the crowd and screens at the back of the stage playing videos and showing various well-known Disturbed paraphernalia.

All in all, the crowd's energy and admiration was up for grabs Sunday, and Avenged Sevenfold took most of it.

Personal Bias: Disturbed and Stone Sour take us back, so we were happy to sing along to 'Prayer,' 'Through the Glass' and a few others, too. And we honestly didn't expect Avenged Sevenfold to pull off half the guitar solos we've heard on their albums, but they did.

The Crowd: Lots of white kids wearing black. Not nearly as many fights as we expected. We only saw one guy get dragged off by security. Good turnout.

Overheard In the Crowd: "You're beautiful, but you're a fucking bitch, you know that?"

Random Notebook Dump: This one kid came with his dad, who was very obviously not a fan of the music, but he wore an Avenged Sevenfold T-shirt anyway. And yes, he tucked it into his jeans, and yes, he jumped around with his son during the show. Cool dads FTW.

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