SHINEDOWN … MORE THAN A ROCK BAND
SHINEDOWN … MORE THAN A ROCK BAND
All live music photographers have a “top three” holy grail of shows we’d kill to shoot. And with all of the incredible bands out there today, my top three are Shinedown, Shinedown, and Shinedown. They are extraordinary. When I try to explain to others why this band (more than any other) means so much to me, I point out that these gentlemen – Brent Smith (Vocals), Eric Bass (Bass, Keyboards, Production), Zach Meyers (Guitar), and Barry Kerch (Percussion) – are more than rock stars. Each of them is the epitome of an outstanding human being. Their kindness, generosity, humility and purpose “shine down” (pun intended) on those in their inner and outer circles and it creates an energy for us to aspire to, and live our best lives. When music becomes the vehicle through which a band can communicate such a powerful message, there are always going to be scores of devoted fans who will follow them for the long haul.
The packed-beyond-capacity PNC Arts Center in Holmdel, New Jersey was a testament to that very fact, for on June 28th Shinedown gave one of the best rock-and-roll performances I have ever seen. Every single detail of their show is meticulously planned and executed, yet it comes off as a personal show being given in an intimate venue to a smaller audience. They connect with their fans (whom Brent often calls “their bosses”) in so many ways, which is certainly a challenge playing in all of the largest venues. Brent leans into the audience and seems to sing directly to individual fans; he shakes hands with concert-goers and photographers and makes conversation throughout the show as if he’s encouraging a friend by pointing out their strengths and potential. Eric and Zach never stay in one spot and cover the whole stage (running, jumping, and spinning while singing) to give as many fans as possible a chance to see them up close. I love that the band had their stage built around Barry so that he is often encircled and a part of the band, as opposed to being regulated to the rear of the stage as most drummers are. Pulling him in like that is a typical move for Shinedown as they are a tight-knit group of “brothers” who look at themselves as equal parts of their musical phenomenon. Barry belongs center stage, too, as he is as much of a dramatic performer as he is an excellent percussionist. I love watching him stand up and then crash down on his set with every ounce of energy he has while pointing his drumsticks toward the audience and across his neck.
Now if you’ve been living under a rock (I am truly sorry about that) and do not know who Shinedown is, let me tell you a little about them. Formed in 2001 (and solidifying their current lineup a few years later), this amazing group of musicians realized they had something special when the music they began creating together had such an immediate impact. Every one of the 25 singles released over Shinedown’s nearly two-decade career has ascended to the Top 10 – a feat unmatched by any other rock band, now or ever before. Shinedown has sold more than 10 million albums worldwide, has 13 platinum and gold singles and four platinum and gold albums, and has more than 1.5 billion total streams. Yup, that’s 1.5 “billion”!!
The band’s six successful studio albums are: Leave a Whisper (2003), Us and Them (2005), The Sound of Madness (2008), Amaryllis (2012), Threat to Survival (2015), and their most recent creation, ATTENTION ATTENTION (2018). This latest masterpiece is also setting all kinds of records with the album simultaneously hitting #1 on Billboard’s Alternative, Top Rock and Hard Rock Albums Charts and debuting Top 5 on the Billboard 200. The opener and first single “Devil” earned the band an iHeart Radio Music Award nomination for Rock Song of the Year in addition to a nomination for Rock Artist of the Year. Another hit anthem “Get Up” surpassed 40 million streams and the single “Monsters” recently achieved #1 on the Billboard Mainstream Rock Songs chart and has already amassed nearly 15 million streams and counting. ATTENTION ATTENTION was born from their personal experiences with depression and addiction and the only person the band trusted to produce the album was their bassist, Eric. Each song of the album takes you through the journey of battling the disease starting at the lowest point with the song “Devil,” and working through it with songs like “Kill Your Conscience,” “Monsters,” “Darkside,” “Get Up,” “Evolve,” and “Brilliant” to name just a few. Eric said of the album, “I want this to feel like a journey. I hope it catches listeners’ attention. Throughout the process of listening to it, [I hope] the hair on their arms stands up and they become invested in this creation. That’s what I would love for people to take away.”
Having seen Shinedown at least a dozen times already, I am always excited to hear their setlist. With all of their hits, it must be a challenge for them to choose a well-balanced selection that will appease the fans, promote the new album, and satisfy their preferences as well. That evening’s setlist was my favorite of all the tours as it included a wide selection of old and new material along with their biggest hits from ATTENTION ATTENTION. The band broke again with tradition by playing the meat of their set spread throughout the entire audience. Barry had a secondary drum set at the soundboard while Brent, Eric, and Zach played at various locations in the venue. It was an amazing sight and energized the crowd even more. It was just another example of how the band will do what it can to connect with their audience.
As always, Brent’s voice was perfection. His searing, passionate and rich vocals reach deep inside and take a hold of you while his lyrics add yet another layer of meaningful effectiveness. Zach and Eric are the perfect blends of kick-ass guitar licks and raucous rhythms that really define the band’s sound as a whole. And Barry? He’s just an amazing drummer who drives the music incessantly forward with an unparalleled energy all his own.
I don’t see this band of talented musicians with hearts of gold slowing down any time soon, and I’m sure I speak for all fans when I say, “I hope they never do.” We need their music and message today, more than ever. I’m happy to report that they don’t seem ready to slow down either. Brent recently stated, “I want everyone to know we will always go to the next level.
There’s no ceiling. We’ll continue to push ourselves not only as musicians but as songwriters and as people. I feel like [the] record ATTENTION ATTENTION is what the world needs right now. It’s about celebrating the will we all have inside of us. To me, this band means giving up is not an option. That’s why we never say ‘Goodbye’; we say, ‘Until next time.’”
Devil/Diamond Eyes (Boom-Lay Boom-Lay Boom)/Enemies/Monsters/Black Soul/I’ll Follow You/Unity/45/Bully/Amaryllis/If You Only Knew/How Did You Love/Second Chance/ Simple Man (Lynyrd Skynyrd cover)/Cut The Chord/Get Up/Sound Of Madness/Brilliant
Tour Dates: http://www.shinedown.com/shows
Let me just say that there were a ton of people at PNC that night who came to see Badflower. This hot, young band from Los Angeles commandeered the stage with passion, grit, and energy and proved that they are most definitely worth all of the hype.
Formed in 2014, Badflower consists of Josh Katz [lead singer, guitarist], Joey Morrow [lead guitar, backing vocals], Alex Espiritu [bass] and Anthony Sonetti [drums]. In February 2019, they released the critically-acclaimed album OK, I’m Sick which produced several #1 and top 10s on the iTunes Rock Charts as well as a debut in Billboard Top 200. They also just earned a second consecutive No. 1 with the single “Heroin” topping the Mediabase and Billboard charts for Active Rock.
x ANA x/Drop Dead/White Noise/Die/Promise Me/The Jester/Heroin/Animal/Ghost
Tour Dates: https://www.badflowermusic.com
The English alternative rock band Dinosaur Pile-Up rocked the stage with tunes from their brand-new album Celebrity Mansions. Their unique blend of punk, grunge, and alternative rock is refreshing and attention-grabbing. Formed in 2007, Dinosaur Pile-Up is Matt Bigland (Vocals, Guitar), Jim Cratchley (Bass), and Mike Sheils (Percussion). They have five EPs and four studio albums to their credit and are ready to set the world on fire!
Upcoming tour dates:
09 – Toronto, Canada – RBC Echo Beach*
10 – Burgettstown, PA – KeyBank Pavilion*
13 – Detroit, MI – Riff Fest at DTE Energy Music Theatre*
14 – Tinley Park, IL – Hollywood Casino Amphitheatre*
17 – Broomfield, CO – 1st Bank Center*
18 – West Valley City, UT – USANA Amphitheatre*
20 – Phoenix, AZ – Comerica Theatre*
21 – Irvine, CA – FivePoint Amphitheatre*
24 – Reno, NV – Reno Events Center*
26 – Kent, WA – ShoWare Center*
27 – Ridgefield, WA – Sunlight Supply Amphitheater*
30 – San Francisco, CA – Bottom of the Hill
31 – Los Angeles, CA – The Echoplex
1 – Tucson, AZ – 191 O’Toole
2 – Phoenix, AZ – Rebel Lounge
6 – Austin, TX – Stubbs Jr.
7 – Dallas, TX – House of Blues
10 – St. Louis, MO – Blueberry Hill
11 – Kansas City, MO – Riot Room
14 – Nashville, TN – Exit/In
16 – Baltimore, MD – Metro Gallery
19 – Philadelphia, PA – The Foundry
20 – Brooklyn, NY – Knitting Factory
UK rockers Broken Hands are on the rise with their upcoming album Split In Two set to release on August 9th! Formed in 2012, the band is comprised of brothers Dale (lead vocals) and Callum Norton (drums, backing vocals), Jamie Darby (lead guitar), Thomas Ford (bass), and David Hardstone (rhythm guitar, keys). Their debut album Turbulence was released in 2015 and they just signed with Atlantic Records last year.
09 – Toronto, Canada – RBC Echo Beach
10 – Burgettstown, PA – KeyBank Pavilion
12 – Mansfield, OH – Inkcarceration Festival at Ohio State Reformatory
13 – Detroit, MI – Riff Fest at DTE Energy Music Theatre
14 – Tinley Park, IL – Hollywood Casino Amphitheatre
17 – Broomfield, CO – 1st Bank Centre
18 – West Valley City, UT – USANA Amphitheatre
20 – Phoenix, AZ – Comerica Theatre
21 – Irvine, CA – FivePoint Amphitheatre
24 – Reno, NV – Reno Events Center
26 – Kent, WA – accesso ShoWare Center
27 – Ridgefield, WA – Sunlight Supply Amphitheater