Photos + Review: Sevendust and Trivium at Surf Ballroom (Clear Lake, Iowa)

Sevendust (Atlanta, GA), Trivium (Orlando, FL), Like A Storm (Auckland, New Zealand), Westfield Massacre (Los Angles, CA)
May 13th, 2016
Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake, Iowa

This wasn’t just a concert for me, it was an event.

This wasn’t just taking a trip to see a concert for me, it was my first time going out of state by myself. I’ve spent about 99% or my life in Minnesota, mostly in Minneapolis, and the 1% I have gone out of state before has always been with other people. Regardless of it only being a two hour drive away to Clear Lake, Iowa, it’s liberating to know I can go on a significant trip all by myself and not just be fine, but have a great time.

I could have just driven down, seen the concert and then left, but I decided to make a day of it. Preceding the concert was some relaxing at a nearby Caribou Coffee in Mason City, scrapping my plans to go frisbee golfing because it was way too cold and windy, but still going to the Central Gardens of Northern Iowa, and then finally waiting outside the venue for an hour and 45 minutes.

Surprise! There was a fourth band playing at this concert that I didn’t know about, Westfield Massacre. I went into their set completely blind not knowing any of their stuff but came away impressed. Their lead singer gave a good mini-speech about being true to yourself and us metalheads sticking together.

Second opening band after was the New Zealand band Like a Storm and they were awesome. I listened to a few of their songs a week or so before the concert and wasn’t feeling them too much but boy do their songs translate incredibly well. Great stage presence and got the crowd popping and engaged. Like a Storm call themselves Didgeridoo-metal because, well, they have a didgeridoo in their songs, which could have been gimmicky but if you ever have a chance to see them live, do it. Didgeridoos sound heavy as hell live. Like a Storm also plays a sick cover of Gangsta’s Paradise too, which was a highlight of the entire concert.

Trivium was, admittedly, the reason I wanted to go to this show. They’ve been my favorite band for the past 10+ years, I’d seen them twice before (should have been three – bus broke down in Iowa the first time going to see them so they couldn’t make it) and they’ve always put on an amazing show. This show was honestly not the best I’ve ever seen them (2009 Trivium will always be hard to beat), but not-as-good-Trivium is still an amazing experience. I was also expecting them to play longer, it felt like their set list went by super fast, but that’s to be expected when you’re enjoying yourself a ton and they’re not the headliner. In Waves is awesome an closing song, but I still wish Pull Harder on the Strings of your Marty would be instead. It’s felt like a much stronger close the other times I’ve seen them live. I also got to meet the band after their set too, which was awesome. They’re all super nice guys. Got their newest album signed and was gonna get a picture with all them but the guy couldn’t figure out how to get my SLR camera to focus right, which was not so awesome, but I got some selfies so it’s okay.

Sevendust was the headliner and they definitely fit the bill. I feel like I’ve grown up with them. They’ve been around for 20 years and some of their songs like Enemy, Black, and Denial I’ve heard many times over the radio and just never knew it was them. The band ended up playing an slowed down, haunting version of Denial which makes me want them to rerecord the song.

In the weeks before the concert I interviewed Lajon Witherspoon, the lead singer of Sevendust and I asked him to describe a couple things that would pump me up for the show most and he said that it’s not just a concert, it’s a family reunion. I can definitely see that now after seeing them. The most prominent feeling I got from their set was just plain genuine fun with their smiling, bouncing around on stage and interacting with the crowd. It was invigorating seeing that compared to some shows where the band will act more rigid and business-like.

I don’t think I can call this past concert the best I’ve ever been to performance-wise, but I can definitely say it was one of the most fun, which all that I could have hoped for with this show. After getting tattooed for four hours the night before and driving the two hours or so to get to Clear Lake, the possibility of me being too dead tired to enjoy myself as much was there, but the bands delivered and made it a non-issue. If this kind of show came about again, I would definitely take the trip without thinking about it much.

Thoughts?