Aaron Lewis promised the crowd at his show in Portsmouth, Ohio, on Thursday (March 17) that he was not going to go off on a “get-myself-in-trouble dissertation” during his solo gig at Vern Riffe Center. But the Staind frontman — who has become one of the darlings of the conservative rock block — proceeded to do just that for more than seven minutes.
During a solo show, the outspoken rocker-turned-country-strummer did indeed launch into a long digression about the state of the union. During the stem-winder, he touched on what he claimed were corrupt politicians — on both sides — while doubling down on his strong anti-COVID vaccination stance and what claimed was the real story behind Russian president Vladimir Putin’s now three-week-old bloody, unprovoked war on the Ukrainian people.
“All I’m gonna say is this: Question everything. Everything that they’re telling you right now is a lie. Everything,” said Lewis, 49, in a video of the show posted by someone in the crowd. “We need to come to grips with something, people. This is our country. We own the most corrupt country in the world. So my question is: What are we gonna do about it? Because we put these people where they sit, to become corrupt and to sell us out all for their gain and not for ours. They’re supposed to represent us, not themselves. And they’re all guilty of it — 90 percent of ’em.”
Lewis then slammed what he saw were Democrats who “are trying to destroy this country,” as well as Republicans who “sit idly by while they do so,” calling for bad actors on both sides of the aisle to be “removed” and advocating for members of his audience to run for office to promote their collective “good ideas.”
In a rant that sounded very similar to some of former one-term president Donald Trump’s off-the-cuff stump speeches, Lewis then claimed “we have no order. We have no president,” suggesting that the current administration and Congress have made the U.S. a global laughingstock. He then launched into what appeared to be support for a growing right-wing conspiracy theory about the “true” cause of the war in Ukraine as well as what sounded like his support for Putins’ aggression.
“These are the people that are making us look bad throughout the entire world — the same people that have you convinced that we all need to support Ukraine even though all of their money laundering systems, all of their everything, the way that they get all their kickbacks and they wash everything is all through the Ukraine,” Lewis said to cheers about misinformation popular among in the QAnon-verse as someone in the crowd yelled what has become a common refrain at Lewis shows: “F– Joe Biden!”
After lashing out at the media, the internet and the big corporations Lewis claimed “made billions and billions” off locked-down Americans during the COVID-19 pandemic’s worst days, the singer slammed mask mandates and bragged that he got corona twice while refusing to be vaccinated and “I did just fine.” The singer, cradling an acoustic guitar, then dropped his biggest bombshell.
“You know, as f–ked up as it sounds, maybe we should listen to what Vladimir Putin is saying,” Lewis said of the Russian leader’s lies about the war that has killed nearly 1,000 civilians to date and laid waste to several cities in the democratic former Russian republic.
“Maybe, just maybe, when [World Economic Forum executive chairman] Klaus Schwab and [billionaire philanthropist and frequent target of the right] George Soros and every other dirty f–king earth-destroying motherf–ker all jumps on the same bandwagon, maybe, just maybe we should f–king take a good look at that. Why are they trying to protect Ukraine so much? What do they all have to lose?” Lewis said.
He also promoted widely discredited, purposely misidentified videos that purported to show Ukrainian soldiers holding wooden guns and “crisis actors” pretending to be dead in the midst of the war. “People, if you haven’t seen that, you’d better start f–king looking elsewhere,” Lewis said of the instantly debunked alt-right talking points. “If you haven’t seen Vladimir Putin actually say that he’s fighting the ‘Deep State’ right now, which is the same people we’re fighting, which is the same people everywhere on the face of this earth that people are fighting for freedom. You know, we need to reassess and think about who it is, who these people are, what makes them worthy of us putting all of our faith and all of our trust in these f–king snake oil salesmen.”
After nearly eight minutes of talking, Lewis ended by admitting that the footage of his speech would likely lead to stories such as this one (“that should be good tomorrow”), telling the supportive crowd that he doesn’t care. “And you know what, though? F–k ’em if they can’t handle the truth,” he said before strumming the intro to “Am I the Only One,” the July 2021 Billboard Hot Country Songs No. 1 solo hit whose lyrics are a kind of musical SparkNotes version of the show’s dissertation.
“It seems like nobody wants to hear the truth these days. They just wanna put their masks on and walk around like f–king zombies,” he said.
Watch Lewis’ speech below.