Yep, it’s official, I’m too old.
Shinedown is probably best known for the song 45 (or possibly Save Me), but they actually have two studio albums, both of which have several singles that are getting a lot of airplay on rock radio (at least on my rock radio). They are one of those bands that you don’t think you have heard of, but as the songs start playing you realize that you have heard everything that they are playing, and beyond that, it is pretty cool. Pretty mellow stuff by my standards, but still some good music. You have to give those guys some credit though, the show was supposed to start at 7:30pm, but they hit the stage and started playing at 7:00. Even starting their set a half an hour early, they managed to get at least 2/3 of the crowd on their feet -something that the opening act on a double billed show with big names rarely pulls off, at least in my experience. They didn’t have much in the way of a stage show, not that you would expect the opening band to. Just before their last song, the singer went into an A’Capella version of …Something… At which point the rest of the band left the stage. I didn’t like that -not because it sounded bad, it didn’t, it actually sounded great- because it put me in mind of the ‘too cool for the band’ attitude that eventually led to Creed breaking up. But who am I to judge? The band sounded great, and it got me pumped up for a couple of bands that I have always wanted to see live.
I have to be honest, I really expected Rob Zombie to do a show that left Godsmack unable to top it. You just kind of get that feeling that someone like Rob Zombie is going to have a freakshow type thing going on that will make it worth the price of admission to listen to the songs that they are playing on the radio every day anyway. He did have a great stage show, there were dancing girls, a huge alien mock fucking the guitarist (that was funny) and three enormous screens showing themed anime during the songs (though one of the songs featured Charles Manson and the family along with their sentences for the Tate–LaBianca murders -WTF was that about?) His showmanship is unquestionable, certainly second only to Marilyn Manson in all the stage shows I have ever seen -and I have seen A lot of bands.
Rob Zombie was also the most disappointing of the three bands. The band sounded worse than any other band I have ever heard live, bar none. I have been to Ozzfest, where the main stage opened at 7:00pm, but local bands were playing the second stage as early as 9:00am. Even the local bands, using nothing but their own equipment amplified through the PA, sounded better than Rob Zombie. It was as if someone took the equalizer and pushed all the sliders right the fuck to the top. All you could hear was noise. The only way you ever knew what song was playing was by the spacing or an occasional guitar riff that you could make out over the cacophony. I did enjoy the show, it just would have been a lot better if they had maybe turned down the mid-range on it so you could make out the damn songs. Seriously, the only two songs that I recognized immediately were Living Dead Girl and Dragula, and that is only because of the intros. Though I suppose I should have expected it; he does look like he is from the “the louder the better” school of rock, and they certainly pulled off loud, just not in a good way.
As for Godsmack, they can be summed up in two words:
They actually started their show by blasting For those about to rock (we salute you) over the PA, while showing a montage of tour footage. It ultimately ended with a live backstage feed and a huge pyrotechnic display. I am not going to say that their stage show was creative or imaginative, but they did manage to keep everyone there on their feet for an hour and a half, belting out some awesome songs (of course the songs are awesome, it is Godsmack). They also seemed to understand the concept of volume a hell of a lot better than Rob Zombie did. Their show felt twice as loud. I say felt because you could actually feel not just the drums, but the rhythm and bass guitars as well. Not only that, but you could also actually hear each of the instruments -four separate instruments mixed together in such a way that they each added depth to the song, what a concept!
Godsmack also had more energy to their show than any other one I can remember seeing, the only act that even comes close is Iron Maiden. When you watch Sully running around the stage singing, then playing the guitar, then playing the drums, and you see the big smile he has on his face, you just get the feeling that he really is happy to be there. I know they all say that they are happy to be there, but he just looked like he was having so much fun that it was impossible not to enjoy it. It had the effect of making this huge venue (with the lawn seating, I can’t even guess at how many people were there) seem like it was going on in his own garage, and you were one of his buddies just hanging out. Yeah, I probably read a bit too much into it, and a good showman is supposed to make you feel that way, but he is the only one that has ever actually done that for me. I have had the opportunity to see a lot of bands that I really like in concert; Megadeth, Ozzy, Iron Maiden, Whitesnake, The Scorpions, Dio, Korn and dozens more. Not one of them came into it with the same energy and attitude that Godsmack did.
I left that show a much bigger Godsmack fan than I went into it. While I am not planning to rush out and buy a Rob Zombie cd, and I already have both of Shinedown’s (it’s some pretty good stuff. Nice hard rock, but mellow enough for daily listening. I recommend it.) I certainly plan to complete the household collection of Godsmack cd’s (the wife has always been a fan, I have never had much of an opinion). If you get the chance, you really should go see them live. The stage show isn’t much to write home about, but you are certainly going to get an energy and vibe that is damn hard to find nowadays. It really is rare for a band that is as big as they are to actually enjoy (or fake it well) what they do day in and day out. Of course don’t plan on sleeping for at least a good 4 hours after the show, even if it doesn’t end until nearly midnight, because you are going to be way too amped up to even sit still for that long.