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Trapt; Seether

Two up-and-coming hard rock bands -- SoCal's mega-hot Trapt and South Africa's post-grunge Seether -- took different paths to far different results at this sold-out Sunset Strip show.

Bands: (T) Chris Brown, Simon Ormandy, Peter Charell, Aaron Montgomery; (S) Shaun Morgan, Dale Stewart, Nick Oshiro.
Also appearing: Smile Empty Soul.

Two up-and-coming hard rock bands — SoCal’s mega-hot Trapt and South Africa’s post-grunge Seether — took different paths to far different results at this sold-out Sunset Strip show.

Following an opening turn by Smile Empty Soul, Seether delivered a heavy dose of its brand of nu-metal, a sound that’s been accurately described as a metal version of Nirvana. It’s a dark and depressing road that’s been traveled by shaggy-haired singer Shaun Morgan, and his songwriting effectively portrays typical teen angst.

The band, however, suffers from an identity crisis, and the trio never quite seemed comfortable in their own skin during their 50-minute set, failing to connect with the audience. Even a surprise appearance by Evanescence singer Amy Lee during “Driven Under” was a disappointment, as her otherwise strong vocals were all but drowned out by Morgan’s howling.

The worst of Seether, however, was saved for the end. After what appeared to be the last song of its set — complete with an extra-long, drawn-out ending — Morgan announced two more songs were still to come. It’s doubtful they could have chosen a more ill-advised cover than “You Know You’re Right” by Nirvana, and to compound the poor choice they ended the song with an extended drum solo.

Trapt — which is less metal and more moody and melodic than Seether — has taken the rock world by storm of late with their powerful current hit single “Headstrong.” The quartet got off to a slow start, though, with sound problems and even a blown house PA (during “Made of Glass”) serving to dull the impact of their dynamic, tightly wound tunes. But the group caught fire as the hourlong set progressed, building to an impressive groove that eventually proved irresistible to the audience, which had been mellowed by the earlier tech glitches.

The band offered 10 of the 11 songs on its self-named, gold-certified debut album (Warner Bros.), highlighted by the heartfelt mid-set entry “Echo.” Perf peaked with a hefty, show-ending version of the current No. 1 alternative rock track “Headstrong,” which found vocalist Chris Brown leaning far out into the arms of the crowd as the excited kids on the floor eagerly reached up for him.

Trapt; Seether

House of Blues; 1,000 capacity; $4

Production: Presented by MGD and House of Blues Concerts. Reviewed June 24, 2003.

Cast: Bands: (T) Chris Brown, Simon Ormandy, Peter Charell, Aaron Montgomery; (S) Shaun Morgan, Dale Stewart, Nick Oshiro.
Also appearing: Smile Empty Soul.

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