Pechanga Casino's concert theater isn't exactly where you'd expect rock-music veterans like Aaron Lewis to entertain beer-swigging fans. Its plush carpeting, luxurious seats, and blazer-clad ushers make it better suited for something more cultured, say a production of A Streetcar Named Desire.

Still, this doesn't explain why the Lewis fan seated behind me kept shouting, "Stella!" And this was before the show even started.

Lewis's sold-out solo acoustic performance drew both high-rollers and lowlifes to the casino -- the kind who can afford a $65 concert ticket, yet drink enough $12 beverages to wipe the event from their memory. Those sophisticated enough to appreciate Lewis's evocative voice, yet have no qualms about drowning him out by shouting lyrics back at the stage.

Lewis's vocal theatrics, underrated by rock critics and usually buried under his band Staind's heavy sound, breathed new life into familiar hits, ranging from the set-opening "So Far Away" to closer "It's Been Awhile." Lewis's set was mostly Staind material, a surprising change from his habit of playing cover-song requests from the audience.

Then again, given the obnoxiousness of the fans who filled the theater, maybe Lewis had figured he'd already heard enough from them.

  • Concert: Aaron Lewis
  • Show date: January 15, 2010
  • Venue: Pechanga Casino
  • Seats: C orchestra, row A

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