I thought both lead singer Brent Smith and bass player Eric Bass were going mental, as the overabundance of energy was evident in their music and their faces.
w/Halestorm, We Came as Romans, & Shaman’s Harvest
Hollywood Casino Amphitheater, St. Louis
As I walked up to the Hollywood Casino Amphitheater, I heard the heavy rock rhythms emanating from the stage that fed my musical soul. It has been far too long since I have been to a hard rock concert, and this lineup of Shinedown and Halestorm was perfect to get my head banging.
Shaman’s Harvest served up some bluesy hard rock to open the show, which worked the crowd into a lather. Nathan “Drake” Hunt’s vocals were soulful and genuine; the heavy rhythms the band kicked out were hard as hard rock can get. This is a band for me to keep my eye on; they have the talent and passion that speak to me musically.
We Came As Romans’ set was full of songs that made the audience members jump around. The group’s high energy rubbed off on the crowd and gave the youngsters something to rage against. While I may not be the biggest fan of screamo rock, I appreciated the enthusiasm the band gave to every song.
The makeup of the crowd was not what I expected. While there was an overabundance of sleeveless Caucasian millennial males, there was also an impressive amount of, ahem, mature concertgoers. I had no idea Shinedown appealed to both the young and the old(er). That is a hard feat to accomplish.
The first time I heard Halestorm, I was both mesmerized and mystified. Their sound was heavy and well-conceived, and Lzzy Hale’s vocals hypnotized me. I must have listened to “I Get Off” about 50 times; it is one of the best crafted hard rock songs I have heard in my life. I was in love with the song so much, I got one of my favorite drag queens to perform it just so I could see the song come to life.
As Hale & Co. took the stage, the crowd came to life. The rest of St. Louis obviously loves Halestorm as much as I do. On the road to support their latest album, Into the Wild Life, the band kicked off their set with two songs, “Love Bites (So Do I)” and “Mz. Hyde” from 2012’s The Strange Case of… The energy Hale and her band created onstage was nothing short of amazing. She and her bandmates—which include her brother on drums—are a well-oiled, hard-rocking machine.
Songs like “Apocalyptic” and “I Am The Fire” were as outstanding live as I was hoping they would. While Hale can kick out some throaty, heavy vocals, she has an amazing blues element to her vocals, as well. On both “I Like It Heavy” and “I Get Off,” Hale improvised the song’s lyrics with some very impressive bluesy, soulful vocals that were nothing short of mind blowing. That said, she completely slayed the crowd with her rock vocals on “Mayhem.” Bonus points were awarded for Arejay Hale’s drum solo and his use of his Pee Wee Herman drum sticks: truly skillful and entertaining.
Now onto the main course: Shinedown. My first encounter with Shinedown was while I was checking out their latest album, Threat to Survival. Crisp, clean vocals mixed with intense, complicated hard rock rhythms sealed the deal for me. How is this the band’s fifth album and the first I have heard of them?
As the massive curtain dropped and Shinedown took the stage, I knew St. Louis was in store for an amazing night of hard rock. Keep in mind it was as hot as Hades this evening, but the band came out in three-piece suits looking sharp and professional. It was almost as if the guys were giving a big middle finger to the heat, which endeared them to the hyped up crowd.
Song after song, the band’s energy was off the charts. During, “Adrenaline,” “Diamond Eyes,” and “Asking for It,” I thought both lead singer Brent Smith and bass player Eric Bass were going mental, as the overabundance of energy was evident in their music and their faces. When a band loves to play its music as much as the crowd loves to hear it, there is an energy feedback loop that creates magic. While all four band members were giving each performance all they had, these two musicians affected me the most.
After an onslaught of face-melting tracks, the band launched in a suite of ballads. “Call Me” was endearing; Bass’s version of “Creep” was breathtaking, but much too short; and “I’ll Follow You” was so epic in nature, it almost made my cold, black heart want to feel something.
Smith loves his fans: no doubt about it. He threw water bottles out into the pit, got the crowd to get to know each other in a real human way, and created a moment of magic when he took the house lights down and had audience members use their cell phones to light the amphitheater. That last event was so mystical that even I had to take pause to soak in all the love. Every time Smith addressed the crowd, it felt part inspirational and part motivational. He doesn’t just front one of hardest-rocking bands around; he wants his fans to be better people and make the world a better place. It was all a bit overwhelming but completely appreciated.
As the band wrapped up its set with epic performances of “45’’ and “Cut the Chord,” it was a cover of Lynryd Skynyrd’s classic song “Simple Man” that gave me chills. Dedicated to veterans—of which I am one—this song was the icing on top of a very metal cake.
Shinedown’s set was nothing short of amazing. Neither their energy nor talent faded for one second as their love for playing St. Louis was felt in the Gateway City. These boys should have earned the key to our fair city, as they gave one of the best hard rock performances I have seen in my life. | Jim Ryan
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