blake matthews | shinedown | april 2019
The air was thick with smoke and the lights were dimming down at 9:15 p.m. on Saturday, March 9, 2019. The music started playing as the lights went out in a packed Brown County Arena. Moments later, lights began shooting from behind the curtain covering the sight of the stage. At exactly 9:20 p.m., the curtain dropped with a huge pyrotechnic explosion as Shinedown opened with their No. 1 hit “Devil" off of their newest album, “Attention Attention." The reaction from the sold-out crowd was pure excitement. They had been waiting all night for this.
Brent Smith's vocals were electric, cutting through the fog and perfectly complimenting the laser light show eminating from behind the band and trailing into the crowd. The stage was set up with a half circle walkway that came to its peak at the rear of midstage, another walkway extended into the crowd that had a small stage set up, just large enough for all the band members to perform on. Six floor-to-ceiling TV screens and lasers upon lasers served as the band's backdrop.
Drummer Barry Kerch was center stage, with guitarist Zach Myers and bassist Eric Bass (fitting name) moving from one side of the stage to the other as they pleased. The band's chemistry was easy to see; they got along very well with each other. After a few songs, Smith addressed the audience and had them all shake hands with their neighbors in order to make the experience all the more enjoyable and relieve any tensions between strangers. After a few more words with the crowd, he went out onto the walkway, followed by Myers and Bass.
Each song they performed brought more fire and more lasers — some unlike anything I've ever seen. They were timed perfectly with the music and cut perfectly through the fog that filled the arena. The performances sounded uncannily like the album recordings, although more natural and raw.
About halfway through the show, Smith did something unexpected: He brought out a cake, complete with candles, and invited PAPA Roach guitarist Jerry Horton out on stage. Smith commended him on his skill and wished him a happy 44th birthday. The crowd then sang Happy Birthday in unison. Horton then blew out his candles and everyone exchanged hugs on stage.
Smith then took the time to thank Green Bay for always being so great to the band, saying, “Green Bay is absolutely a necessity when we tour." He recounted how the band toured in Green Bay after the release of their debut album, 2003's “Leave a Whisper," and expressed respect for the arena's history as the venue's inevitable destruction looms (the final concert at the venue will take place on April 6). After this heartfelt talk with the crowd, they played a fitting song off of their new album, “Get Up." At the climax of the song the stage rained with sparks to a cheering crowd. Afterwards, the stage went black. Soon, the lights came up to reveal all five band members upon the small square stage at the end of the walkway, where they continued with their more heartfelt acoustic songs. Bandmates exchanged some comedy with each other as brothers would. To bring the band back to the mainstage they then played their biggest hit, “Second Chance," which was the perfect mix of Shinedown's heartfelt acoustic music and their harder rock music.
Following that song up, the band moved into old hits “Bully," “Simple Man," “45" and “If You Only Knew," ultimately ending the set with “Sound of Madness" off of their album of the same name. The laser and the explosions went crazy and filled the room with so much intensity that all in attendance knew the band wouldn't leave them hanging on that. The band returned for an encore with one of their newest songs, “Brilliant," which is slow and melodic number that had the crowd feeling at peace.
Shinedown is a band that's more than the sum of their radio hits; they're a talented group of musicians and performers as proven during their inspired live set at Brown County Arena with Asking Alexandria and Papa Roach in support. Shinedown's Attention Attention World Tour is slated to makes stops across the U.S. and Canada through July and should be on the list of rock fans everywhere.