REVIEW: Seether, Poison the Parish Tour

I attended Seether’s “Poison the Parish” tour on Sept. 29 at the Tabernacle, an old church-turned-music-venue, in Atlanta, Georgia. Despite a few hiccups, it was nothing short of a divine experience.

The show began at 7:30, despite announcements of 6:30. We never got an explanation as to the delay, but artists being behind schedule isn’t surprising. Full disclosure: I was raised on metal music – my father played death metal while driving me to school. As such, Seether has been on my radar for as long as I can remember. I don’t consider myself a “fan,” but I came into the venue familiar with their discography.

Seether is a group that, while you may not know the name, you probably know one or two songs. Debuting in 1999, the South African hard rock group has been through five labels and produced eight studio albums. They have maintained a dedicated fan base over their twenty years. Members have come and gone, but the group currently consists of Shaun Morgan (who debuted with the group) on lead vocals and guitar, Dale Stewart (a member since 2003) on bass, John Humphrey (2003) playing drums, and the newest member, Corey Lowery, who has stood as lead guitar for only a few months. This tour is to promote their album of the same name released in May.

After three opening bands – Veio, Big Story, and Tremonti – it was time for Seether. Or at least that’s what I thought. After three hours of standing and listening to music I didn’t know I was getting frustrated with the long wait times; I wasn’t the only one upset. Multiple people found themselves shifting to the back of the room to flop down on the old wooden floor, and others simply complained to no one in particular. Needless to say, we didn’t pay to get backaches and overspend on shitty concert-bar beer.

There was no need for three opening bands on one tour – even two is excessive. Each band was good, but the opening acts took up so much time with unnecessarily-long tech intervals and encores no one requested that I was ready to go home before the headliner had even begun. Seether’s tech team set up for about fifteen minutes. But for whatever reason, the audience stood around listening to echoed playbacks of “Dream On” and other miscellaneous hair metal hits over the venue speakers – it should be restated that Seether is not anything close to hair metal, so the choice was interesting, to say the least. Finally after what felt like an eternity, (by “eternity” I mean 11pm)  it was time for our headliners.

Seether’s been popular for years, and for good reason. The lights created a variety of effects that perfectly coincided with the ups and downs of the music. There wasn’t that huge cloud of fake smoke that audiences hate but artists love. The group had screens that created a background of red flames and their logo, rather than a traditional cloth backdrop. Overall it was a great visual setup, exciting to watch but not overwhelming to people standing in the front row. However, it did throw the audience off when Morgan appeared at stage right, rather than center, and remained there for the entirety of the show.

Seether is a group you see for the music, not the performance. While they had interesting visuals, the overall vibe was relaxed and didn’t include jumping off speakers, crowd-surfing, or wild three-minute drum solos. The members stayed in place or kept within a three-foot radius of their microphones. The performance level isn’t what I’d call “top-notch,” but it never has been. Their style relies on an assumption of the audience knowing the songs, creating a connection, and allowing that to take place of pyrotechnics and outlandish wardrobes.

The set itself had a great mix of traditional heavy metal and power ballad. Expected hits were played – “Country Song,” “Let You Down,” and “Fine Again.” But a truly magical moment came during “Broken,” by far their most popular song. “Broken” went to the top of the charts, peaking at #1 on the US Billboard Active Rock list and #20 on the Billboard Hot 100. There wasn’t a person in the building who didn’t know this song. The venue became eerily quiet, and with only a dim spotlight on Morgan and soft red backlight, everyone came together and sang. There was no screaming or jumping. No one pulled out their phone to raise a flashlight. The crowd was caught in a soothing, seemingly endless moment, and when its final notes faded, many had too recenter themselves, as if waking from a dream.

“Remedy” closed out the show, and this anthemic, high-energy tune was the perfect way to end the night. I have a pet peeve with shows that end on slow songs or ballads; they don’t provide any sense of resolution. So “Remedy’s” booming drums and thick harmonies were a great note to end on (no pun intended). The audience left with warm hearts and warmer bodies…seriously, where was the A/C? Everyone was pouring sweat.

It was incredible to see Seether’s dedicated fanbase in action. Some audience members were following them on tour, others had been seeing their shows since their debut. There was an obvious and deep love for the group that created a sense of community within the venue, if only for a few hours. It was much like a church, a Tabernacle, and Seether preached their word to an eager and devoted congregation.

 

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