Where: Xfinity Theatre, Hartford, Conneticuit
When: August 24, 2018
There are good lineups and there are epic lineups. Shinedown and Godsmack with Red Sun Rising is an epic lineup that combines two household names with a band that is on their way to becoming a household name.
Red Sun Rising has gotten a reputation recently for being a great band to see live. The intro to their set was the very opening of the fun aria “Brindisi” from La Traviata performed by Luciano Pavarotti. The famous operatic drinking song led into the band’s “Clarity” and the transition was perfect. The six-song setlist consisted of three songs from debut album Polyester Zeal – “The Otherside,” “Amnesia,” and “Emotionless” – and three songs from the most recent album Thread – “Clarity,” “Veins,” and “Deathwish.” The setlist sounded well-rounded; it had the perfect variety of songs to appease the Red Sun Rising fans in the audience while creating new fans at the same time. The band’s performance was impressive. Vocalist Mike Protich was able to engage with the audience in the entire venue, from those right on the barricade to the ones sitting up higher. Guitarists Ryan Williams and Dave McGarry were great, bassist Ricky Miller was excellent on bass and backing vocals, and drummer Pat Gerasia kept everything right where it needed to be. The band performed as a unit; everyone had their time to shine, but no one was trying to outdo someone else. Red Sun Rising was an impressive opening band. They will no doubt be headlining their own amphitheater tour in due time.
Having seen Shinedown once before, the expectation was set for a high-octane, fast-moving set; the expectation was met and exceeded. Intro “Attention Attention” played while the sheet was up and interesting shapes and colors were projected onto it, with “Sound of Madness” starting the set off while indoor fireworks went off behind the musicians. “Diamond Eyes (Boom-Lay Boom-Lay Boom)” was electric. Before starting into “Cut The Cord,” vocalist Brent Smith took a minute and asked the audience to look left and right and shake hands with the people next to them; he then took time to shake hands with the working photographers in the photo pit, the security guards, and even a couple of the fans right on the barricade. “I’ll Follow You,” “Bully,” “Get Up,” “Enemies,” “Unity,” “State of My Head,” and “Second Chance” flowed smoothly one after the other and the audience soaked up every second. The production was huge; the band was walking up and down ramps and standing behind drummer Barry Kerch, bassist Eric Bass was jumping up and down, and guitarist Zach Myers was a lot of fun. Visually, no matter where you were seated in the venue, it was fun to watch. Music wise, Shinedown were on point, just as they were the last time. There was a break in the performance for a minute and the reason why was revealed when Smith and Myers showed up at the top of the amphitheater, behind the seats and in front of the lawn to perform their acoustic cover of “Simple Man.” I have seen bands go into the audience for acoustic sets before, but never on this scale. It was a great move; it kept the set interesting and gave the fans sitting all the way up on the lawn a chance to see the band up close. The musicians walked back to the stage to close out the set with “Devil.” Shinedown’s set was spectacular and this is a band that should be a priority to see if they come to your area.
The main draw for me for this show was Shinedown; I had been a casual Godsmack fan at the most, so did not know what to expect in comparison. Right away, you could see how different their set was going to be in comparison. While they did not have a small production, it was much simpler, without the ramps and the lasers; they did have plenty of pyro, though. By no means, however, did the difference in production mean a difference in quality. Godsmack were amazing. The set started off with “When Legends Rise” and it was energetic and impressive. “1000hp,” “Keep Away,” “Cryin’ Like a Bitch,” “Say My Name,” “Awake,” “Someday,” “Voodoo,” “Batalla de los Tambores” which featured Erna and Larkin on dual drum sets battling against each other, “Whatever,” “Bulletproof,” a cover of AC/DC’s “Highway to Hell” where Shinedown guitarist Zach Myers joined them onstage, and “I Stand Alone” made up the smartly constructed setlist. Fans got to hear their favorite songs, and many new fans were made. Frontman Sully Erna was excellent; his vocals were perfect and the connection he formed with the audience from the first second was unbreakable. Drummer Shannon Larkin is one of the best in the game and was fun to watch. Guitarist Tony Rombola blew through every riff and solo like it was nothing and bassist Robbie Merrill is one of the best examples of how important a good bass player is in a band. Godsmack has that grittiness that bands from Massachusetts often possess and it was really appealing to hear. After such a great time seeing them live, I am making it a priority to learn their entire discography by heart so I am ready for next time.
While there have been a lot of good lineups this year, Shinedown and Godsmack with Red Sun Rising is one of the best. I can count on one hand the number of lineups where I have thoroughly enjoyed every single band and this one makes it to the top of the list. I will absolutely be seeing each one of these bands and I highly recommend that you do, as well.
Post and photos by Karen Shalev
Did you attend this tour? Comment below.
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