When two of the best rock bands produce their most prolific albums to date AND go on tour together, you do what it takes to get tickets for their show. That’s what I – and about 25,000 other people - did in order to experience SHINEDOWN and GODSMACK at the Saratoga Springs Performing Arts Center (SPAC) on August 21, 2018. Cool upstate New York breezes flowed through the park that evening as I walked around exploring the venue since it was my first time there. The Amphitheater is surrounded by historic buildings including the National Museum of Dance, the Saratoga Automobile Museum, the Gideon Putnam Resort and the Roosevelt Baths and Spa. An adjacent golf course and several hiking/running trails made this quite the unique venue and concert experience.
What was also unique was the calm and relaxed nature of the fans. The atmosphere felt as if we were friends gathering for a summer picnic. Concertgoers Nancy and Tony DiLorenzo (from Scotia, New York) were two of the many friends I made that night. Nancy said she had been “jumping out of her skin” to see this concert, as both she and Tony are die-hard Godsmack and Shinedown fans. She said, “From the first time I heard Godsmack, I was hooked for life.” Tony echoed her sentiments and added that he’s been coming to concerts at SPAC for many years, even attending a WHO concert back in the day. Both were truly excited to see the bands and hear their new music performed live.
Red Sun Rising
Ready to take on the world
One of the trials and tribulations of being a warm-up band is that, often, the crowd is a bit sparse. What many don’t realize is that this is the time you may really see a gem of a band that has a fresh, new sound. A band that’s going places. Red Sun Rising is one of those bands and concertgoers who arrived late missed an outstanding set. They opened the night right on time with the song “Clarity” from their new album Thread (released this past March). The first thing that strikes you is Mike Protich’s rich vocals. The tonal quality of his voice is special because it maintains its clarity and strength whether he’s singing powerfully or softly. Interacting and engaging the crowd is something that seems to come naturally to him and he worked hard to involve the fans throughout their set.
The band is filled with a lot of talent backing him up too. Ryan Williams (Guitar), Ricky Miller (Bass, Vocals), Dave McGarry (Guitar, Vocals) and Pat Gerasia (Drums) played together with passion, and also with an ease that proves this group belongs together. They effortlessly cranked out really heavy rock creations, as well as more melodic “top chart” rock songs. I heard several fans commenting that these guys seem to “really love what they do because they have so much fun on stage.”
Red Sun Rising often uses the hashtag “WeAreThread in an effort to describe their musical style. They believe there isn’t one genre that accurately describes the true spirit of their music. One characteristic that really sets them apart is the inclusion of complex harmonies within their songs. I love when a band has several talented vocalists and utilizes them to add richness and texture to the music. Listen to the songs in their setlist below and you’ll discover how unique and eclectic their sound is.
As they neared the end of their set, Mike thanked Godsmack and Shinedown for including them in this leg of the tour. It was evident that they were all grateful for the opportunity, and that they are ready to set the world on fire in their own way. Follow the band on Instagram @redsunrising for cool pics of their adventures on the road.
Clarity / The Otherside /Amnesia/ Veins/ Emotionless/ Deathwish
Lasers and fireworks and flames … oh my!
It is difficult for me to write about the gentlemen in Shinedown without gushing, so let’s get that disclaimer out in the open right now. As a fan since their first album, I’ve watched the Shinedown entity grow and mature over the years as they’ve toured incessantly, produced a ton of outstanding material, and evolved into the quartet of talented musicians they are today: Brent Smith (vocals), Eric Bass (bass, vocals), Zach Meyers (guitar, vocals), and Barry Kerch (percussion).
With six successful studio albums to their credit (Leave a Whisper, Us and Them, The Sound of Madness, Amaryllis, Threat to Survival, and ATTENTION ATTENTION), the Shinedown catalog has Gold, Platinum and Triple Platinum-certified albums. Twenty-three of their songs are top 10 hits and twelve of them have hit number 1. This is a true testament to the hard work ethic and perseverance of each band member.
To start their set, Shinedown pounded out “Sound of Madness,” “Diamond Eyes,” and “Cut the Cord,” leaving fans breathless early on from jumping, singing and screaming at the tops of their lungs. The energy expended by the band did not decrease throughout the entire show as Eric and Zach constantly ran across the stage interacting and singing with fans. Brent covered the stage too, taking time to shake hands with many lucky front row fans as well as running around the entire amphitheater so that he “could see everyone that is here.” It’s sometimes hard to see a band’s drummer, but Shinedown built their stage around Barry so that he was often in the middle of his bandmates’ actions. He has a great stage presence as he regularly stands to accentuate his riffs, points to the crowd, and draws his drumsticks horizontally across his neck.
Emotional renditions of “If You Only Knew” and “Bully” came next, followed by their brand-new single, “Get Up.” This song, in my opinion, is the jewel of ATTENTION ATTENTION and was one of the songs that night where the band really shined brightly. It was born from Eric Bass’ battle with depression and how he views and deals with it. The band shares their very personal struggles through their songs in the hopes that they will bring hope and light to those who are listening. In a recent interview with Parade, Eric said, “Because by laying it all out there we’re saying we’re human. We struggle and fight everyday just like you. Sometimes mightily. And by showing our struggles and scars to our fans and to the entire world, we’re letting those who deal with depression or with substance abuse know that they aren’t alone.”
The songs “Enemies,” “Unity,” “State of My Head,” and crowd-pleaser “Second Chance” came next. Brent prepped the crowd for this segment by instructing them to jump and sing in unison. And when Brent Smith says to jump … the thought in every fan’s head is “how high?” So, the entire audience erupted as the band rocked out with high octane energy. Shinedown’s stage show has really been ramped up with pyrotechnics that underscore the beat and artful laser displays that accentuate the lyrics. The show was as pleasing to the eyes as it was to the ears.
Brent and Zach then surprised fans in the lawn seats to perform the band’s rendition of Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Simple Man” and the two had every single concertgoer singing the chorus together. The unity of the audience during this part of the performance is a show-defining moment. The song has been a staple in their setlist for years as it is a crowd favorite due to Smith’s exquisite vocals and interpretation of the song.
The show ended with another newly-released single, “Devil,” which is punctuated by heavily driven guitar lines that really show off the band’s hard rock side. Although this was their finale, I really felt the band came alive a bit more during this song. It’s apparent that their new material is especially meaningful to them and it really came through in their performance of it. I would have loved to hear a bit more of their new album in their set. The lyrics of “Devil” are just as impactful and heavy as the music:
The silence, the silence
The blinding ultra violence
Knockin’ at your door
Pacin' back and forth
What now? (What now)
The whispers and the screams
The stereotypical profiling ritual
Vicious and obscene
There are three things that make Shinedown a truly special band. First, there is the high quality of musicianship of each member. No one member outshines the other. They are a true brotherhood. Second is the level of dedication and sacrifice that each one of them gives day in and day out. And the third most impressive quality is their altruism. They aren’t playing music just because they like it, although I’m sure that’s part of the reason. Instead, it seems like their mission is to help and inspire others through their music. They want others to benefit from what they’ve learned from life so far.
Brent ended their performance by saying to the crowd, “Thank you for your patience, your dedication to us, your loyalty. We wish you all love, success and happiness in your lives.” And then his signature lines, “Remember, it‘s never goodbye. It’s just ‘til next time.”
Follow Shinedown on Twitter and Instagram for their latest tour information, band videos, and amazing performance pictures: @shinedown.
About a month ago, Sully Erna posted a video to Instagram of the band talking about receiving AARP membership applications. They were joking about the benefits of becoming members of this organization (that caters to those of us over 50) to get discounted rates and rebates. He included the hashtag #seniorcitizenfreefishdinners. It was hilarious. Well, if AARP membership is going to include the likes of Godsmack, then I want in.
This group of seasoned rockers stormed the stage, grabbed us from the first note and did not let us up for air until the last. Entertaining as hell, Sully Erna sang with powerfully sick vocals, worked the stage with his dance moves, joked with the crowd about football rivalries, and poked fun at his “hard as nails” hair that wouldn’t move an inch due to the amount of product he had in it.
Their newly released album When Legends Rise is Godsmack’s seventh; following Godsmack, Awake, Faceless, IV, The Oracle, and 1000hp. Sully has stated that this album could possibly by their “biggest record” since their debut album. Recently speaking with Louder about the new record, Sully said, "It happened somewhat painlessly. I really believe we found something unique on this record, not too far detached from what we do and what we've been, but just enough to raise the eyebrows of the core audience, and draw in a new audience and perhaps a younger audience."
The band’s setlist was a great mix of old and new material and didn’t give the crowd much of a chance to catch their breath. Over the years, Tony Rombola (guitar, vocals) and Robbie Merrill (bass) have perfected a heart-pounding, heavy guitar base that drives the crowd into a frenzy. You can see how they both feel the music as they play in the way that they move around on stage. And if you ever wanted to know what the secret is to weight loss, just play the drums the way Shannon Larkin does. Larkin is an absolute beast on his set. It’s almost as if he and his instrument are one in the same. One of the highlights of the show was the battle of the drums (Batalla de los tambores) between Larkin and Erna. The duet lasted a good seven minutes and included alternating solos, flying drumsticks, and complicated cadences all atop a moving stage.
Zach Meyers joined Godsmack in their rendition of Alice Cooper’s “School’s Out For The Summer” and the crowd went berserk during their final song, “I Stand Alone.” Sully had the entire crowd singing the chorus with him as pyrotechnics and strobe lights lit up the stage. Do whatever you can to see these guys during their tour and you’ll become hooked on their new material. Upcoming dates can be found at: https://www.godsmack.com/tour/.
When Legends Rise / 1000hp / Keep Away / Cryin’ Like A Bitch / Say My Name / Awake / Someday / Voodoo / Batalla de los tambores / Whatever / Bulletproof / School’s Out (Alice Cooper cover) / I Stand Alone
Red Sun Rising