I was called in last minute by Rockstar Weekly to do a video interview with Shinedown after their interviewer fell sick. Not knowing much about Shinedown other than their two radio hits, Second Chance and If You Only Knew, I figured I’d best do some investigative research before the interview and found the guys on Twitter… and spent the better part of two hours reading tweets — and was impressed! This was a band who took time to talk to their fans, get to know them, and share not just the business pr stuff with fans, but the personal stuff too. It gave me some good insight for the interview questions.
The interview was one of the easiest I’ve ever done. I found Brent Smith (singer and founding member) and Barry Kerch (drummer and founding member) to be articulate, intelligent, and easy to talk to. Guitarist Zach Myers and bassist Eric Bass were close by during the interview, chatting with fans on Twitter prior to the show. By the time I left the venue, I had such an incredible feeling about this band, I knew that I had to see this band live – somehow I had to see them perform.
With Sick Puppies and Shinedown supporting Nickelback, the show was sold out, so I decided to do something I’ve not done since U2’s Vancouver show back in the 80’s – buy a ticket from a scalper. I asked one entrepreneur what his price was and it was too steep (well above cost) – so was the view; it was up in the nosebleeds. I found another dealer and told him I wanted the cheapest ticket possible, I just wanted to be in the building. He too presented me with a nosebleed seat, behind the stage, but the price was fair and so I shelled out and took the risk! (and yes it’s a huge risk especially if the show is sold out – you may end up with a counterfeit ticket. As for the moral issue – there is that also. But… considering the underhanded way that the ticket promoters ‘sell the event out’ then offer tickets on ticket broker agencies (which are actually owned and operated by the same promoter), or how they suddenly ‘drop’ a batch of new tickets hours before the show starts… I wasn’t too concerned with buying tickets from someone who was getting face value for them. He didn’t make any profit off me.
So with ticket (and ratty old point and shoot camera) in hand, I found my seat behind the stage. What a view! This was going to be awesome even if I was up in the nosebleeds!
Sick Puppies were first up and although they sounded good, I am not a fan of their music in any regard so was glad when they hit the last song. I will say this though – lead singer/front man Shimon Moore has stage presence.. much more so that bassist Emma Anzai who almost literally stood in one spot all set, as if this stage was just too large for her. She thrashed it good but didn’t make good use of the overall stage itself, and very seldom looked at the audience or interacted with them – Moore at least made the attempt to connect with the audience, but limited himself to those up front and ignored the entire rest of the venue. I’ll also say this for them, they have good marketing strategy. Text the word ‘sick’ to a number announced by Moore at the end of the set, and you ‘might’ win a free guitar autographed by the band… so yes I did indeed text. Only to receive one back, “sorry you’re not the winner but you’ve now signed up for Sick Puppies news letter. Text STOP to not receive ‘x’ amount of texts a month (which you will be charged for probably). One thing that did impress me about the band though, was they announced an autograph session out in the main venue area after the show – which was still going on when I left 2 hrs later.
Shinedown started somewhat late; I heard later that Breaking Benjamin who was also supposed to open for Nickelback, cancelled out last minute and so there was some mixup as to the time factor. Either that or the band got caught up in the Twitter chat they do with their fans almost weekly 🙂
As I said, I’m not familiar with Shinedown’s music so cannot provide a setlist of any kind but I do know they sang the two songs I like, as well as Devour, Crow and Butterfly, and an awesome acoustic rendition of Simple Man, which I caught on video. The setlist was solid, the audience was appreciative and the band was tight and worked as a unit. There were open displays of affection for each other and for their road crew. Sitting up in the back of the stage afforded me the opportunity to see guitarist Zach Myers hug his guitar tech who brought out his guitar for him – I doubt the people down front saw it as they were in the shadows at the back of the stage. This band is genuine in what they talk about – its not just talk, they demonstrate it too even when nobody’s looking. The real deal.
This band also really appreciates their fan base and takes their responsibilities to the fans very seriously. Front man Brent Smith thanked the audience in a very unique way – he told us, “We have only one boss – and it just happens to be everybody in the audience.” The band gave it everything they had, roamed the entire stage and pulled as many people as possible in to the experience – often coming out to the sides of the stage to include the people behind the stage (my section) and the people on the upper tier truly in the nosebleed seats. It’s been a long time since I was impressed by a band big enough to perform in a 40,000+ seat venue. Shinedown impressed me.
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