Tuesday, October 30th, 2018 @ The Ritz
The RDU Music extended family turned out in full force to witness rock legends (and one of Lan’s personal favorites), Clutch. This was a rescheduled date due to illness from a few weeks prior.
As our 5-man crew was pregaming Newcastle browns at Lan’s place prior to the show, we made the executive decision to skip Tyler Bryant & the Shakedown after spinning part of their most-spun track on Spotify. Sorry, boys. Ain’t nobody got time fo dat. [Though their 50k monthly listeners on Spotify would beg to differ and likely call me something uncouth and indecorous. -Ed.]
After a short trek to a drive-thru-less McDonald’s so that Greg and Rick could fuel up, we walked up to the Ritz where we were met by a bevy of security personnel. All nice, by the way. Though I was confused about one of them explaining to me that vaping was not allowed in the Ritz. In other news, water: still wet.
After Greg’s $6 blue Gatorade – poured into a cup, as is customary [Thanks, Live Nation. -Ed.] – and my G&T [Heavy on the T. :/ -Ed.], we were ready for a band that Yang and I hadn’t seen since Ozzfest ’98: Sevendust. Apparently since then, the band has achieved gold status on 3 consecutive records and sold millions of units worldwide while still maintaining their uncanny knack for forcing me to incessantly check my watch during their set.
I could talk shit on Sevendust for days [Which I will do a fair amount of here, presently. -Ed.] but I wanted to lead off with a compliment. Vocalist Lajon Witherspoon is the real deal as a front man. Stage presence and strong pipes for 25 years. Though he will get no points for his leather bracers. Negative 5 to charisma, if you ask me.
Apparently, there is a fashion prerequisite for being in Sevendust. One must either own a backwards baseball cap or grow dreadlocks, the latter of which is a feat that drummer Morgan Rose failed at but thought that twisting his hair into Korn-style braids was good enough. [It wasn’t. -Ed.]
Lan described Sevendust’s sound thusly: “I feel like I am watching a military commercial.” Yep. That is about right. Music for guys with tribal/razorwire tattoos on their pythons. I feel like they were a poor choice to open for Clutch but I wish them the best with their new record, which reached a respectable #28 on the US Billboard 200, so fuck me, I guess.
After a couple more overpriced drinks and a trip to the smokers patio that was a masterclass in beards and embarrassing makeouts, we were treated to one of the best purveyors of riffs to ever grace a stage. The quality level of a band like Clutch is immediately recognizable. Say what you want about Sevendust, but I’m positive that any band would hate opening for such wizards of rock, for fear of being outclassed well before the first chorus.
Drummer extraordinaire, Jean-Paul Gaster, appeared effortless, just chewing gum and laying it down better than anyone in the biz. I am shocked that he isn’t awarded with Drummer of the Year accolades from various publications after each new Clutch release. Or maybe he is and it is so commonplace that it is not even newsworthy at this point. Alongside bassist Dan Maines, I have been saying that Clutch has the tightest rhythm section in rock for at least 20 years.
Neil Fallon’s charming banter was a sign that the band is still having fun after all of these years. “We’re gonna do one more new one and then a long line of #1 hits. Just kidding. We don’t have any of those.” Which might be precisely what is wrong with this country. [That and Trump. Go vote, kiddos. We gotta right this ship. -Ed.]
The only complaint I could have possibly had was that Clutch took so long to play something off of The Elephant Riders, but they closed with “The Soapmakers” so I was golden. I’ve seen Clutch countless times and will never pass up an opportunity to see them whenever they come to town.