The State Theatre, St. Petersburg, FL • September 1, 2000
Lee Ann Leach
To begin with, Finger Eleven has the most rockin’ Web site of any band site I have visited. Not only does it have a cool little Flash movie complete with a kickin’ drum loop playing, but they also take the time to add in lead guitarist James Black’s artwork as a bonus. I got their CD, The Greyest of Blue Skies, and reviewed it. Then, I saw that they were going to be playing the St. Pete area in a few weeks, and after being duly impressed by the Web site and CD, I figured it would be worth the effort to make a live show. Openers were supposed to be a band called Slam, but I was informed by the bartenders that the band onstage when I entered the State Theatre was not Slam at all, and no one knew what the name of the band was anyway. Still, they were a pitiful excuse for a hardcore rock band, especially when their lead singer was a Scott Stapp clone if I have ever seen one, complete with brown leather pants. The lead singer from “band that was supposed to be Slam” should not be attempting to sound like Lemmy when he was just too damn pretty.
Second band up was Sage, a well-known name among local Tampa Bay acts. I had seen Sage once before at Gasoline Alley several years back, and never went to see them again. They didn’t do much to impress me then, and so it was the same again this time, only worse. Sage attempted to end their show with a cover of Duran Duran’s “Hungry Like the Wolf” and mangled that baby all over the place. Loyal Sage fans did their best to make like it was spectacular as they cheered and danced along, but they must have simply been caught in the moment, because what I heard with listening and attentive ears was ghastly. I don’t think I’ve ever heard so many flat notes from a lead singer in one song as I did from that one. I don’t think he even realized he was singing flat, anyway… he was too busy jumping around and being an aggressive rock star that likes to make a show. Thankfully, the Sage set ended, and it was time for what I had originally come to see and photograph.
Security at the State Theatre rocks me hard, as they knew I would be pummeled to death in the expected mosh pit, so they quickly helped me up onto some equipment cases so I could shoot my photos without bodily harm inflicted. Red lights shrouded the smoke-filled stage and Finger Eleven pounded onto the stage, beginning with “First Time” and quickly moving into “Ocean” and then “Suffocate.” Lead guitarist James Black stole this year’s Best Onstage Fashion Award when he entered wearing a black, floor length, tailored, long-sleeved coat and a black skullcap. The man was looking seriously wicked in that get-up, accompanied by a goatee. Guitarist Rick Jackett entertained everyone with flying guitar tricks, holding a cigarette tightly in his lips. It was cool the first two or three times to see him swing the guitar in a complete 360, but after awhile, it grew old and tedious. Lead singer Scott Anderson looked like an evil mad professor in a Nehru-type black jacket and black pants. Bassist Sean Andersen and drummer Rich Beddoe were hardly noticeable behind the front stage antics of Black, Jackett, and Anderson.
Best tunes of the night were the unforgettable “Carousel” and the moody “Sick of It All (Sullen).” The music of Finger Eleven was good, but the show they put on was better. Definitely a band you’ll want to see live, especially if the CDs are your cup of tea.