Hands-down, Shinedown put on the most exotic and impressive stage show of the festival. Flames and fire and smoke and carnival and fire-eaters and fire-blowers and halloween faces and more smoke. A mind-blowing set, revealed by the curtain that had been in place for hours, dropping to reveal the band and performers, back-lit by gouts of burning air. Just amazing! And the crowd loved it all. Definitely one of the highlights of a weekend where every band put everything they had into their performances.
Avenged Sevenfold also had pyrotechnics, but I think Shinedown won on the sheer overkill-visual stimulus.
Smoke and fire and spooky characters and a strong, if a little bombastic, front man.
Every time I hear Shinedown, the first few moments of the song, I think, Why the heck do I not listen to them all the time? Brent Smith's huge vocal range! Wow! But then... by the middle of the song, I'm already bored. I have to say that their set at Aftershock had the same effect. Visuals-apart. Half-way through the set, I'm ready for Korn.
Why? Hard to put a finger on the reason. The music is good. The vocals are strong. The show is impeccable... and yet, the songs seem somewhat formulaeic: written to please the consumer, as the perfect rock songs, which take turns exactly as expected, no suprises: rather than songs that come from a raw need to write the music and who the heck cares if anyone likes it or not. I prefer the raw need to the calculation, always have. But I do understand, very well, the need to earn a living and pay the mortgage.
Singer Brent Smith reminded me of someone. Or actually of two someones.
The first, I recognized immediately. He has the same physical build and demeanour as G., my friend and karate-brother-in-crime in France. I recognised G in Brent Smith's posture: G first trained in Shotokan before joining us in Shito-ryu: Brent Smith kept up a very impressive, Shotokan-deep shiko-dachi stance throughout most of the first two songs, with an occasional turn into zenkutso-dachi. Very Shotokan. Hmm.
The second "deja-vu" was a much more obscure and subtle connection to TV programs I watched and loved years back, in England, and I really have no idea why Brent made me think of them. It wasn't until I was editing all the photos, and remembering him saying over (and over, and over) again that Rock Is Not Dead (why say this to 20,000 people who are quite obviously rock fans?) that I realised who else he reminded me of. Not one character, but two: Rick from The Young Ones. AKA Ric Mayall. Wolfie, from Citizen Smith. AKA Robert Lindsay.
If I work out why, I'll let you know.
I hope Brent has a (British) sense of humour... I hope so, they are on their way across the pond to the UK, as part of their tour: check out the dates on their website!
Anyway: the Shinedown visual show was mindblowing. Seriously. Great job!
For more photos from the Shinedown set, click on any of the photos to go the full gallery.
For other Aftershock reviews and photos, go to Toon's Tunes home page.