Eight days removed from playing a local arena while on tour with Korn and Babymetal, Stone Sour mark the launch of new album Hydrograd with a sweat-drenched performance at the 500-capacity Troubadour. It’s a rare chance to see one of modern hard rock and metal’s most celebrated frontmen up close and personal, and a reminder of how a band that was once considered a side-project has mutated into a formidable entity of its own.
Interestingly, Hydrograd shows that the group’s mutation isn’t yet complete. It’s rare for a band six albums into their career to seem as if they’re continuing to find their sound, but much like the House Of Gold And Bones albums showcased a level of ambition not previously displayed on the group’s earlier, groove-heavy alternative metal, Hydrograd sees Stone Sour showing off a few new tricks – namely, the unexpected power-pop sensibilities unabashedly on display in the Foos-like Song #3 – the Number One track at American rock radio at the time of this performance. Unfortunately, the song falls fl at tonight, as the crowd responds more enthusiastically to more familiar chug-alongs – and arguably lower-hanging fruit – such as Made Of Scars, 30⁄30-150 and the ballad Bother, during which Corey, performing unaccompanied, sprinkles in a few bars of Alice In Chains’ Nutshell. Other new tracks such as Taipei Person/ Allah Tea and Fabuless, which bookend tonight’s 90-minute set, are also better received, implying that Stone Sour’s audience isn’t necessarily unwelcoming to fresh material, just perhaps not yet ready to trade the melodic maturity of Song #3 for the sugar rush of Fabuless and echoing Corey’s chants of ‘Motherfucker!’ on Get Inside.
When Corey takes the stage tonight, he wears a Wu-Tang Clan t-shirt and a shit-eating grin. “Get your hands in the fucking air!” he tells the crowd, who gladly comply. During Taipei, he windmills frantically, tosses the first of countless water bottles and punctuates the chorus’s refrain (‘I’m running out of road, but I’m still doing 75’) with a raised middle finger. During Gone Sovereign, he heads upstairs to the balcony thencrowdsurfs while singing the final verse of Fabuless, which sees five of the dancing inflatables from the song’s music video come to life onstage. It’s all downhill from here? Not a chance.