Church with Aaron Lewis

An unexpected venue for an unexpected visitor. 

Last Wednesday I went to the Seminole Casino in Coconut Creek, about an hour north of South Miami to see the maven on the mic, Aaron Lewis. You may better recognize him as the lead singer of the band, Staind.

I witnessed Staind at the first Welcome to Rockville festival held at the Daytona Speedway last year. Welcome to Rockville is a festival that’s been held in Jacksonville for about 6 or 7 years, until it got so big, that they decided last year post-pandemic to take up the entire racetrack in neighboring Daytona Beach.

It was awesome. 165,000 fans showed up over the course of four days to see a plethora of bands, with the headliner Metallica playing both opening and closing night. It’s now been recorded as the largest Rock event in U.S. history, and this was November when pandemic was still a concern in some states. Well, not Florida! It seemed to be a liberation festival. We were done with masks & isolation. It was time to move forward and onward with our lives. So we celebrated.

Aaron Lewis was the highlight of my experience for the two days I went. His voice caught my attention. I had originally come to see bands like The Offspring and others I can’t even name right now. But Staind. Wow.

Aaron Lewis has a voice that is versatile, magnetic, soulful, and relatable. It’s the kind of voice we all wish we had to sing with instead of the screeching raccoons we probably sound like in the shower (Ok, that may only be me.) But his voice is powerful. And the ranges that guy can throw off the tip of his tongue had me in awe. His voice can go from mellow singing to wide-mouthed howling in an instant. This talent keeps the crowd engaged, and I’m mesmerized by his ability to jump in and out of a cool, smooth alternative rock song to unleash some depth of humanity with a voice that howls, but does not intimidate.

Most heavy metal singers, when I hear their howling, I have often associated with it disgust, a tightening of my body, a turn of the face, or some other kind of physical expression to repel the energy being sent my way. Aaron Lewis is the first singer I stay eyes wide open, relaxed, and almost drawn in like a fly to the light when he sings this way. I promise you, I have never heard anyone else sing like this.

Anyways, this two-hour laidback show last Wednesday did not disappoint. In fact, I was impressed because there were so many chairs lined up. And Aaron Lewis was also sitting down on stage with his guitar, promptly at 8 o’clock. It was like we were all there to sit around a bonfire, eagerly awaiting the next story our camp counselor is tell.

He got deep. He shared about the song leading up to him going to rehab. He spit a line about “bangin’ bitches, I was 20-something” and the crowd is cracking up. It’s somewhat refreshing to hear lingo that isn’t PC be thrown around knowing that he doesn’t mean any harm. It was just a popular phrase, and perhaps the crowd laughed because it reminded us of our youth.

Interesting story about Aaron Lewis – his grandfather was a gold smith. So Aaron, while he loved making music, he trained to be a goldsmith. “I quickly learned I was better at creating than doing the same minutia over and over again.” So his uncle hired him, and after shrinking a woman’s gold bangle in a matter of an instant, he didn’t even know what happened, it just shriveled up, his uncle fired him.

So at his new goldsmith job, he meets the girlfriend of the roommate of the guy who lived with Mike Mushok, the guitarist for Staind. He only got that opportunity because he got fired from his family’s job where he would have been a 3rdgeneration worker. His learning lesson to the crowd was that sometimes things are working out for you, even when they seem like they aren’t.

I mean, the guy is such a bad-ass. The Pavillion as you’re walking into it clearly says No Smoking, and the guy’s on stage nearly chain smoking his menthol Marlboro’s, low key threatening the super drunk woman in the front row. He said there might be a mistake later, as he says, “oopsies” and acts to pretend he’s spilling his drink on what would be her. He also low key insults a guest in the crowd who’s interrupting his goldsmith story. He goes, “I hope your girlfriend smacked you on the back of the head from that one! Actually…you probably don’t have a girlfriend.”

By the end, Aaron Lewis is victorious. He surprises guests with a random rendition of Drive by The Cars. He told the crowd he’s on his third drink, which means shots 10 thru 15. Once I gets to 15 thru 20, then he knows he’s getting into trouble. So he gets up there and starts strumming, “Who’s gonna drive you home, tonight? Who gonna..” And man, it was so beautiful. He goes well that was random. Ah. And that’s the beauty of live music with really good artists.

The reviews walking out of the concert/church/bonfire were positive. I could see and hear people lightened up from his simple, but quality two-hour performance. It’s so refreshing to have Real. In a world of fake, he’s just real. He ended the show by encouraging us all to be Lions. He said the truth is like a lion. Once you set it free from its cage, the truth will defend itself. So be Lions!

I couldn’t relate to that encouragement more. In a world where illusions are honored, let’s fight like Lions for Truth & Freedom. God bless the USA! God bless Florida. God bless our governor. God bless our mayor. God bless our artists. Amen.