Hosting performances by famed musicians is the Riviera Theater’s métier; hence, those in attendance expect to experience an unequivocal high specific to that particular occasion.
For bands that have not garnered the notoriety of Fiona Apple or John Legend, it can be intimidating to perform in this venue. However, from the moment that Finger Eleven’s LSD–laced guitars struck their first chords, there was no denying that they had claimed the Riviera Theater’s audience for the night.
Even the NASA countdown to liftoff doesn’t bear as much urgency as that announcing the arrival and introduction of “Eleven—Finger Eleven.” As the flashing lights set the stage aflame, the guitars assumed a life of their own, adding fuel to the already immense fire that consumed the band and spread throughout the audience. It was that same flame that allowed viewers to realize that they spend their lives in the same state of envelopment and they too need to break out.
Using their universal lyrics and punctuated yet lulling rhythms, Finger Eleven not only tossed in wood, but also doused the stage with a little gasoline to keep the fire burning. “Just look at the state I’m in,” begged vocalist Scott Anderson in “Talking to the Walls,” expressing his deep vulnerability with his infallible vocal sentiments.
The smoke continued to overtake the room throughout the concert, especially after the band performed the sincere “I’ll Keep Your Memory Vague,” which consisted of no less than four minutes of Anderson attempting to talk himself out of pursuing an unremitting love interest.
Anderson wasn’t “standing still” when he ranted through “Paralyzer,” describing that common experience of being struck by the appearance of a stunning supermodel from across the room and worrying that she won’t take any notice of the pauper on his knees begging for affection.
By the time the band played their commercial success, “One Thing,” listeners had already accustomed themselves to ingesting the smoke from the flame that the band had lit as if it were the oxygen needed for their very survival.
For a band that is less widely known than those that normally enter the Riviera Theater, Finger Eleven definitely left a couple of burn marks on listeners and scorch marks on the stage. If nothing else, Finger Eleven’s performance made it clear that even though you may feel devoured by the burning flames of life, you can escape and start anew.