Alter Bridge Headline an Amazing Evening in Buffalo's Outer Harbor
Buffalo, New York has a brand-new amphitheater in the works, set to open next summer. In the meantime, the venue is holding shows in an adjacent field right along Lake Erie. For the time being, it's exciting to see a new venue being built in the market, especially with such an incredible backdrop.
On this particular evening, we had a great dose of heavy music featuring Alter Bridge, Sevendust and Mammoth WVH. Alter Bridge is touring in support of their latest release, last fall's 'Pawns & Kings.' Meanwhile, Sevendust's newest album, 'Truth Killer,' was just released a week prior to this show. Rounding out the lineup, Mammoth WVH's sophomore album, 'II' is set for release just a few days after the show. Needless to say, the energy at a tour kickoff was huge and I was so excited to see each of these bands!
This evening marked the first time I got to see Mammoth WVH perform live, something I've been waiting to do for the last few years. I first saw Wolfgang Van Halen perform in 2007, with Van Halen, consisting of Eddie, Alex, Wolfgang and David Lee Roth. An incredible evening for sure, but fast-forward to now, some sixteen years later, and this guy has become quite the prolific songwriter, having completed two solo albums of entirely his own work.
Their performance was fun enough, consisting of a nine-song set, running approximately 45 minutes. Hearing "Distance," live for the first time was definitely a moment for me, as that song (and accompanying video) really hit hard from the first time I saw it. In truth, it wasn't until the last few songs when Wolfgang really started to shred during "Another Celebration at the End of the World," and "Don't Back Down."
This brings up a unique challenge for Mammoth WVH. It's no secret that the band gets a lot of pressure to cover Van Halen songs and pay tribute to Eddie Van Halen. Wolfgang has taken a hard policy on not playing Van Halen tunes live during Mammoth's sets. When limited to a short time like this, it's hard enough to get through their own material, let along adding covers (even though the crowd would inevitably go wild). My hope is that in a future state, when Mammoth is headlining and filling a 90–120-minute set, that's when it might be more appropriate to work in the occasional Van Halen tune.
Despite this, the crowd reaction was very clear when Wolfgang hit the solo during "Another Celebration at the End of the World." The guy is a shredder. He can be his own musician and still play a wicked solo without worry that people will unfairly compare him to his father. Personally, I think he put that question to rest during the Taylor Hawkins tribute shows last year.
Mammoth WVH's Frank Sidoris and Wolfgang Van Halen
Next up was Sevendust. The very first time I saw this band, it was just a few miles away from this venue back in June of 1998, while opening for Megadeth. I remember that show clear as day, and how I was completely blown away by the high energy of their performance. As anyone who has seen this band over the years can attest, not much has changed on that front. The biggest difference on this particular evening was that this was the first show in Sevendust's career that John Connelly missed (due to a brief illness).
Given that this was the kickoff date of the tour, it was great to see Sevendust decide to push forward. While I'm sure it felt awkward for the rest of the band on stage, you'd have never noticed. They pushed through their 10-song set and brough the crowd up a notch, kicking things off with the 1-2 punch of "Face to Face" and "Denial."
It may have been several years since my last Sevendust concert, but they haven't lost a beat and I'll be sure to prioritize catching these guys again as soon as I can!
Sevendust's Lajon Witherspoon at Buffalo's Outer Harbor
As mentioned above, I caught Sevendust way back in the beginning. Below is a photo from my personal archives, taken from the crowd while I was a sweaty mess on this tour date, during their debut-album tour. The venue was at a place called The Sideshow.
Fun fact for any locals, this venue has since been converted into a banquet hall, currently called The Villa Banquet Center.
Sevendust performing at The Fun House in Lackawanna, NY on June 29th, 1998
Last but not least, Alter Bridge took the stage at 9:20pm for their headlining set. Touring in support of their latest release, 'Pawns & Kings,' they opened their set up with "Silver Tongue." Next, they went back to the 'Fortress' album for "Addicted to Pain" before diving deeper for "Ghosts of Days Gone By."
The stage was particular dark on this evening, and what lighting there was emphasized an unfathomable number of gnats in the air (we were right off of Lake Erie, after all). None of that stopped Alter Bridge from tearing through an awesome headlining set! In addition to the above-mentioned tracks, they included a ton of hits including "Blackbird," "Open Your Eyes" and "Burn It Down." Not to mention some phenomenal acoustic performances of both "Watch Over You" and "In Loving Memory."
Alter Bridge rounded out an exceptional evening at what will soon be a fantastic venue here in Western New York. It was exhilarating to see all three of these bands share a stage and I look forward to the change to see any or all of them again as soon as possible! In the meantime, every one of these artists has either a brand-new album (Mammoth WVH and Sevendust) or a recent release (Alter Bridge) that are all worth spending some time with!
This tour continues on through the end of August where it will conclude in Council Bluffs, Iowa. If you're on the fence over this one, click the tour banner below and grab yourself some tickets!
Alter Bridge's Mark Tremonti