On September 15th, Staind played a special benefit show at the Best Buy Theater (as well as an album release show of sorts as their new self-titled album “Staind” came out two days prior), with all the money from the show going to the families of first responders of the 9/11/01 attacks. To be part of this show was truly humbling, and to be able to sit down with the band before the show was even more so. The band touched on their doubts that the music industry as it is can continue to function and the lack of rock radio in major markets such as New York saying that “a lot of program directions think they know what people want to hear more than the people” and that the radio stations that do exist seem to be going for a playlist focusing more on “tried and true” than new music. The band discussed piracy, mentioning how they all still don’t own iPods, and countering an argument seen all too much online – that people don’t buy music because tickets to see bands are $100. To this Aaron Lewis said “I don’t know who’s charging $100 a ticket, but it’s not us” and then jokingly added “maybe we should”. In a truly somber moment, Aaron said how amazing it was to be able to do something special for the families of people who dropped everything on that terrible day and ran into the belly of the beast. Mike Mushok shared how the band was in NYC as the VMAs were a few weeks prior, and when the attacks happened he sat on his couch with his dad the entire day, and that he’ll never forget that feeling of helplessness that day.
Staind took the stage shortly after their scheduled 9 o’clock start time to play a 75 minute, 15 song set – kicking things off with the oldest song they would play of the night – “Mudshovel” off of their 1999 album “Dysfunction”. It was a smart to start with everyone in the crowd headbanging and screaming the chorus along with Lewis. Guitarist Mike Mushok was jumping all over the place and it was clear that despite the absence of long time drummer Jon Wysocki, the band was just as sharp as ever. The intensity of “Mudshovel” is hard to follow up, but they did a great job in doing so with “Throw It All Away” from their new album. Featuring a heavy bassline and an easily singable hook, the crowd continued to feed off the bands high energy level. A guitar tech brought out an acoustic guitar for Mushok to play and that could only mean one song was next. Ballad “Right Here” we met with the loudest cheers so far of the night as well as nearly everyone’s hands in the air, though the fairly subdued (compared to their other material) song brought down the energy that they had established. For much of the rest of the night this situation continued – a heavy new song such as “Failing” followed by a softer hit such as “So Far Away”.
New song “Wanna Be”, one of the heaviest songs of the night, touched upon the theme of music piracy that was discussed with the band earlier with lines “So now you want to talk about me; You know the songs that you download for free” coming out of Lewis’ mouth like venom. Massive hit “Outside” followed, and featured such a loud sing-a-long that Lewis stepped away from the mic to let the crowd finish the last chorus for him, a truly amazing moment to be a part of. One of Lewis’ solo songs, “Country Boy”, was next, and despite it being about something that almost no one could relate to here in NYC (life in the country), the crowd loved it, particularly lines about smoking weed and carrying guns. Continuing with their “new song, hit” format, “The Bottom” came next, followed by “It’s Been A While”. The band quickly moved into heavier newer material again with “Not Again” and the excellent “Paper Wings”, which actually sparked the first bit of rowdiness on the main floor on the theater, something that was expected to start much sooner based on the heavy security presence at the front of the crowd from the start of the show. Closing the main set was personal favorite “For You” from the bands most successful album to date – “Break The Cycle” which had the crowd literally climbing over each other to try to get closer to Lewis.
The band quickly returned to play one more song for the crowd, album closer “Something To Remind You”, which Lewis introduced as a song that can mean “whatever you want it to mean”. The song was a somber end to the show, with poignant lyrics about saying goodbye. Line “The road is long, just one more song, a little something to remind you when I’m gone” was a fitting end for the show, both as a show closer in general, and as a way to pay tribute to all those who passed away ten years ago.
All photos courtesy of Michel R Dussack