The Tivoli doors are closed on arrival. Waiting in the queue outside, punters receive a pleasant surprise when the members of Sevendust stroll past. A curious murmur of recognition rises among those present, and I marvel at the civilised nature of music fans compared to years gone by. Suddenly aware of their surroundings, the band calls out reassuringly to fans, promising a swift return before vanishing around a corner. The doors swing open and the venue is immediately buzzing. I wonder if the subdued nature of the early crowd belies a coiled spring of energy, saved up for Sevendust.
Soon enough the room darkens and a drummer can be seen settling into position. With a quick count-in, Sydney’s RedHook literally leap onto the stage. At first, their immediately punchy sound presents as a potent happy-hardcore four-piece experimenting with an Alexisonfire and AFI twist. They produce every expected aspect of the genre, from clean into heavy call-response vocal moments to slow-tempo bridge breakdowns featuring familiar double-kick phrasing. This formula is followed by a spoken word piece laid over the appropriate number of dissonant bridging chords. However, their sonic landscape subtly transforms as the set moves forward, with singer Emmy Mack showing off a solid affectation for the vocal stylings of KORN’s Jonathan Davis. The group then adds a Rage Against the Machine cover, revealing a unique combination of influences. Mack is clearly loving every second, as she grins from ear to ear, jumping off stage and leaning into the audience to pump up their enthusiasm. This is a flawlessly rehearsed, high-energy act who barely stop moving for the entirety of their set. Overall, the RedHook show is seamless, grittier than their recorded releases, and highly entertaining.
RedHook exit the stage with a grin. A noticeable amount of time passes with only the house music and a banner advertising the album All I See Is War for entertainment. Meanwhile, a prodigious sea of black t-shirts fills a now sold-out venue. Darkness falls as the house lights vanish, and a deep, throbbing bass spreads across the floor. The crowd begins to chant. Sevendust open with the title track, and a flurry of double-kick sixteenths underpinning thick lead guitar licks. Distorted squeals are obligatory but appreciated. The timing is immaculate. As a veteran in his third vocal decade, Lajon Witherspoon has lost none of his gravel, gravitas or power. Both floors go crazy for ‘Reconnect’. This crowd laps up every offering of old and new material, singing, shouting and clapping along in chorus.
Sevendust are clearly seasoned performers, their use of space and presence a pleasure to watch. Sonic mood and mixing are flawless, with several song sections featuring bass and drums so deep and consistent, they create a continuous rolling thunder effect. Clearly favouring songs with heavily distorted devil's triad and harmonic scale-inspired guitar melody, thumping beats and roaring vocals, their choices appeal heavily to a jumping audience. Power chords and intricate drum work sectioned off by Witherspoon regularly demanding audience involvement keeps the room pumping.
Despite a clearly planned performance, a feeling of positive energy and genuine enjoyment emanates from the stage. The band takes a moment to enjoy their Australian environment, rousing the crowd with an "Aussie Aussie! Aussie! Oi! Oi! Oi!” The energy of the room reaches a new peak as they launch into ‘Praise’, before dropping back to adulatory sing along mode for ‘Angel’s Son’. The audience knows every word, participating with such passion that Witherspoon is briefly moved to tears. Yet the fan response is well-deserved. With minimal use of stage cans, strobing and colours, Sevendust put forward a clear musical statement that no fancy light show is required for to deliver powerful tones, and moments that are easy to be caught up in.
A line of crowd controllers separate audience from artist, but nobody is ready to rush the stage. Instead they clearly adore every second, bouncing for all they're worth to prove it. As the fans provide their celebratory energy, even more is reflected back from the band, right to the end, into the encore and beyond. Witherspoon waves to every corner of the Tivoli before they leave. His smile is wide. Sevendust and their congregation remain potent, dynamic forces, appreciatively intertwined.