GIG REVIEW: STAIND – 20th Anniversary Performance of “Break the Cycle”
2001. Nu-metal is sowing deep roots as a major sub-genre, its audience expanding at an unprecedented rate. Korn, Limp Bizkit, and Linkin Park lead the charge, and for a moment ‘Iowa’ by Slipknot seems like the only alternative to this rap-metal hybrid taking the world by storm. Suddenly, living up to its name, ‘Break the Cycle,’ the sophomore album by Staind, arrives and upends the applecart. Jump to 2021, and around ten million album sales later, and ‘Break the Cycle’ has become iconic, standing the test of twenty years of time. Celebrating this two-decade milestone, as part of ‘The Return of Staind’ global streaming series, the ’20th Anniversary Performance of Break the Cycle’ sees this classic album being performed in its entirety. Reminding us why this album, and this band, are still important today.
Filmed at Open Square, a city block of historic mills between the canals in Holyoke, Massachusetts, stoic stones and cracked pillars provide the setting for this homegrown occasion, as well as providing subtext for much of the music. Stunningly impressive drone footage, operated by Lazr, walks us down the mills desolate train tracks before floating along the trail of the canal, the entire area practically barren. Seedy alleyways and the empty, winding corridors of Mill 3 suggest it has been devoid of human inhabitation for quite some time. Until the echo of a guitar reverberates through the halls. By the time the camera finally finds Staind, they’re already a handful of notes through the album’s first song, “Open Your Eyes”, and the experience feels as poignant and powerful as ever. Director Vincent Adam Paul, and editors Adrain West and Jeff Merritt show great care and attention to detail, evident in every frame, capturing what each member brings to the table, individually and collectively.
Throughout, drummer Sal Giancarelli, and bassist Johnny “Old School” April, play with an understated, but integral grace, while guitarist Mike Mushok brings enough energy for all four band members. Yet it is Aaron Lewis, whose lyrics and voice have helped shape and define much of the band’s sound, that’s the real heart of this performance. Never a man of ebullient temperament, Lewis shines telling stories depicting people at moments they would least like to be observed. “Outside”, “For You” and “Pressure” still proving to be a testament to this, as well as ‘It’s Been A While;’ a four-chord progression accompanied by ruminant lyrics that is rightly recognized as a modern classic. Often with his eyes closed and hands interlocked across his microphone, a cigarette cradled between his fingers, Lewis asks for no concessions, giving himself over to these songs completely once again. Perhaps most evident in his solo acoustic performance of “Epiphany”, masterfully lit by Michael Cooper and Matt Mills, emphasizing simplicity, composition, and emptiness, with Lewis seeming most comfortable in darkness.
With a wonderfully interwoven documentary filmed and edited by 7 Cinematics that provides some fascinating insights to the members and album alike, Staind, the ‘20th Anniversary Performance of Break the Cycle’ is perhaps the most intimate and powerful performance the band have caught on tape to date. Like a secret shared, do yourself a favor and catch this career-defining performance while it’s still available on-demand at www.staindlive.com through May 11th.