The crowd at the sold out Seether show at New York City's Gramercy Theater was, individually, large. This is not a fat joke. The crowd consisted mainly of men whose chests I would hollow out and pay rent in if they’d let me. By my count, the people in attendance were made up majorly of bouncers at Guitar Center, followed by, in descending order; rode hard and put away wet moms who seemed like they’d have annoying but infectious laughs and be real solid to share a beer with, long haired dads with long haired children of indeterminate sex, normcore girls hanging to the back, Latinos in baggy pants and Children of Bodom shirts, young buff dudes with shirts with band logos too legible for me to know who they were, confused wanna-be American soccer thugs who chanted “USA! USA! USA!” despite Seether being from Pretoria, South Africa and the USA just having, you know, lost in the World Cup (frowny face emoji), a couple ex-con looking dudes who I’d be nervous when they came in the bar but would actually turn out to be more the “cool uncle” ex-con than the “can I have a free beer to buy a handgun?” kind, a couple of the latter type of ex-con looking dudes, a number of youngish women with chest-piece tattoos that spelled out “chest-piece” in olde English, and one rapidly aging, gone to paunch, hipster (me).
Let’s take a moment to step back, though. Does everybody remember Seether? Back in the early to mid aughts, they were super fucking popular post-grunge/ alt metal band from South Africa, a beautiful country with amazing music, where the bikers listen to Sisters of Mercy and Sixto Rodriguez. They followed the path paved by the likes of Creed, Nickelback, and Staind, having a few major, major hits—in particular, “Fine Again,” “Remedy,” and “Broken”—that, if you spent any time flipping through radio stations during that time period, there’d be a Seether song at any moment. When Seether was popular, they were not to my taste, but no worse than a million other things held in higher regard.
Writing about popular mainstream bands is difficult. There are a couple ways to talk about them. First off, there’s the always dependable “be a complete fucking snob” approach where it’s hammered home that Seether is “objectively” terrible and their crowd is stupid and wear shirts with diagrams and insignias that I would never wear and ha-ha aren’t they all just the marooonest of maroons and probably from, lol, New Jersey and PS America sucks. I wish Vampire Weekend were a country so I could move there. The second approach is the equally fun “contrary populist” take, where Seether is actually totally great because they are true to themselves, punk because not being punk is actually the punkest thing you can be, and their fans are all inarguably great because they can presumably fix things unlike the fey and decadent surface scum of Williamsburg, Communist Russia. America is the best. Vegans and soccer fans are phonies, don’t kill your television, etc. I’m will try to walk the line.
The fact is that Seether sound like Seven Mary Three. Seether sound like Nickleback. Seether sound like Bush. Seether take Nirvana riffs and transposes sub-Vedder yowling over them. Also, their new song borrows heavily from a medley of early 90s REM, which is admirably off brand but hardly an improvement. Seether is... not a great band. The rhythm section, however, has wonderful hair. The bassist has the shaved on sides long on top, full beard that dude from Mastodon has perfected and the drummer has lovely thin blond hair that floated up like Sharper Image stardust for the entirety of his drum solo. It was like there was a wind machine built for one emanating from his shoulders.
Conversely, people really love Seether. They make people happy. Good for Seether. Good for the people that Seether makes happy.
Conversely to the conversely, trans fats and waging endless war also apparently makes people happy. Happiness ain't the end all be all and, if an immortal soul is even a possibility, perhaps we could strive for a satisfaction larger than power chords and Amy Lee in batwings.
Quick shout out to the dads who brought their kids: Dads, bringing your kids to a Seether show is extremely sweet. I bet they had a great time and regardless your inevitable failings, they're gonna get a lot of mileage in college by telling people the first show they saw was Seether in 2014, right before dad went out to get cigarettes in the sky. They may hate you by then, but this was a fun night.
Another positive aspect of the night: Pantera’s “Cemetery Gates” played on the venue speakers. It’s a really beautiful song and way preferable to me than when they discovered Rollins Band and got serious about hating the world and weight training.
I should mention that while attending this performance by the band Seether, I didn’t experience the low simmering rage and resentment that I feel when I go to most rock concerts. Usually I go see some buzzed about rock band, shake the hands of some of my peers, feign the remembrance of the names of others, and stand in the back, arms crossed feeling wave after wave of loathing and contempt. Not for the bands, who are usually very similar to Seether in their aping of Nirvana’s second record, while dissimilar in their dress and stage presence, and are, like Seether, entirely inoffensive. No, rather, I glare at younger versions of myself and wonder “are you for fucking real? Do you really think this is inspired in any way? Do you really think that Japandroids/Cloud Nothings/whatever totally fine riff mavens being hailed as the new Pond is somehow more than grunge/90s revivalism for overeducated simps who just wanna throw their hands in the air like they well whatever Nevermind and that it’s somehow intrinsically aesthetically and/or artistically superior/in any way different than hardworking South African hard rock bands like Seether” I didn’t feel this at the Seether show. Probably because I was the only writer there, and I was seeing Seether so the comparison would have been silly. So I nodded my head and smiled a couple times and enjoyed the 100th generation Nirvana riffs. Nirvana was a really good band.
It’s fun to feel superior to people, especially when they’re people, like at the Seether show, who are inarguably physically stronger than you and therefor potentially better at sex and will more than likely live longer. Also, given the possibility that a Seether crowd was conceivably 30 percent EMTs, auto mechanics, and/or schoolteachers (and, to avoid an appearance of classism, sure, doctors and lawyers…very brawny doctors and lawyers in Affliction gear…) they were also smarter than me. The band played for one and a half hours, the crowd knew approximately all the songs from the first five years of their 15 year existence, their rhythm section was tight, their singer/guitarist should have his effects pedals confiscated until he knows that the “wah” on a wah pedal isn’t an imperative; I had a notion the lyrics were bad, but again not worse than any of the neo-grunge bands critics like; Seether put on a real performance. In that it really happened. And I was there.
Zachary Lipez is broken when he's open. He's on Twitter — @zacharylipez