It’s a sold out show at The GIANT Center in Hershey, Pennsylvania that not even freezing rain or snow can prevent. 10,000+ fans of all ages pack into their seats, buzzing to spend an unforgettable night with Shinedown, Papa Roach, and Asking Alexandria. It’s been quite some time since I’ve attended a show of this size, and while I did miss the freedom of being in a general admission venue, there’s an undeniable beauty to sharing the room with thousands upon thousands of other people and watching them have one of the best nights of their lives.
Asking Alexandria, an English rock band, opens the show right at 6:47pm as fans are still trying to find their seats. They start the show with a bang and it takes no time at all for the crowd to raise the energy in the room to a point of it being almost electrifying. The lead singer of the band, Danny Worsnop, makes excellent use of their stage space and their yellow lighting really pops against his red clothing choices.
Next to take the stage is Papa Roach, with the arena nearly full to capacity now. Not only is it lit up by the spectacular light show going on behind the band, but fans all around the room are using glow sticks and lighters and phone lights as well. They play through a set that’s nearly the size of a headliner, even managing to stir up a bit of trouble about halfway through. Their main vocalist since starting the band in 1993, Jacoby Shaddix, requests that those occupying the front GA portion of the venue, get a bit rowdier. He taunts security as they try to calm the near-moshing crowd then he stirs things up even more by hopping off the stage. Jacoby runs around the barricade, giving high-fives to fans. He takes off into the crowd, climbing the stands and standing on top of the chairs while he sings. All 10,000 people are more than riled up and ready for the main act.
It’s 9:20pm, five minutes after Shinedown is supposed to take the stage, but Papa Roach ran a bit late. The air is filled with excited chatter as the anticipation grows. Some of the concert-goers tonight are young and here for their very first show, while others are seasoned attendees who know the routine. The house lights dim and the screams are deafening; nothing really compares to the buzz in your ear when you listen to thousands of people screaming inside a closed venue. Immediately, their lighting and stage presence is impressive, rivaling some of the best performers I’ve seen. The arena is shaking with the noise as they barrel through their 18 song setlist, barely stopping long enough to breathe.
About halfway through, standing on the B Stage, Brent Smith picks up a massive bar of Hershey’s chocolate and explains that the venue staff gifted it to them. Guitarist, Zach Myers admits to the loss of control currently occurring during the show. Brent unwraps the bar and takes multiple bites around the edge before he splits the bar over his leg, handing giant pieces off to other members of the band who continue splitting the bar, before tossing the fragments into the crowd. “At least you can leave here saying that Shinedown gave you chocolate! Now bring out the other 15,000 bars,” Zach jokes to the ground and then it’s right back into the music.
One of the most memorable moments of the show was the execution and performance of Shinedown’s hit “Second Chance,” which was released in September of 2008. Brent raises his hand and tells the crowd to stand as well as pull out any light source they have, be it a phone flashlight or lighter or something else, take it out and turn it on. He explained this moment was special and he wanted everyone to participate, and then they beautifully performed the song, with an entire arena of people singing the lyrics back to them. It was chill-inducing.
The band rounds of their set with five more songs, never letting their energy lull or their charisma with the crowd falter. It’s sure to be memorable, be it your first concert or your fiftieth. Their use of pyrotechnics heats up the venue and you can hear the gasps echo through the room each time the stage lights up in a fiery blaze. I, and many others, ended the night blown away by the showmanship we just witnessed and itching to experience another Shinedown show as soon as possible.
Devil / Diamond Eyes (Boom-Lay Boom-Lay Boom) / Enemies / Monsters / Black Soul / I’ll Follow You / Unity / Get Up / Bully / Amaryllis / Call Me / How Did You Love / Second Chance / 45 / Simple Man / Cut the Cord / Sound of Madness / Brilliant