Errols Weekly Music Update.

July 23, 2008

Concert Review: Shinedown at the Highline Ballroom in NYC – 07/22/08

Concert Review: Shinedown at the Highline Ballroom in NYC on Tuesday July 22, 2008.

After attending many shows at the legendary Madison Square Garden for the past year or so, I knew on my drive down to NYC, that the Highline Ballroom was obviously going to be smaller. Now I love the Garden don’t get me wrong, love the energy but I was so pumped for a smaller venue and knowing that I was going to see my new favorite band, (I know.. I have a new one every week), Shinedown, just put me over the top. I had never been to the Highline and while walking down 16th street after crossing 9th Avenue; I was getting nervous that I had the wrong address. I saw a “Western Beef” supermarket- I worked there many years ago with my uncle- and just assumed I was on the wrong block. But wait, right next to or on top of Western Beef, was the Highline Ballroom. Talk about old school- the guy at the door actually ripped part of my ticket off and gave me the remaining part. I can’t remember the last time that has happened. And then there it was as I walked up the stairs; I had flashbacks to Le Balloon in Brooklyn when we use to go see live bands (or the Lion’s Den). As I reached the top step and saw the entrance, I could already see the members of Black Stone Cherry seemingly right there in front of my face, creating havoc for the crowd. Then I made my way through the standing only crowd to get my position on the floor.

Now as you all know, I love many types of music but you can probably tell I’m partial to the heavier stuff. The Highline Ballroom seems to fit about 750 people tops and I loved every moment. Heavy bass lines pounding in your chest like your heart is going to burst right through, the crashing sound of cymbals (when is the last time you actually heard cymbals crashing at a show?) and the lead guitar ripping your ears off. I felt like I was in someone’s basement watching these bands. And talk about hot? Just picture yourself on a NYC subway platform waiting for the # 3 train to pull into 14th street on a day like yesterday.I was in my element. I needed this night; I needed loud guitars and driving heavy music because it has been a while since I have had that.

Knowing that I made the mistake of showing up late when Shinedown played with Zombie and Godsmack a few summers ago, I was not going to blow off the two other bands: Black Stone Cherry (BSC) and Theory of a Deadman. (TOAD) So I showed up right at 7:00 as BSC was playing their first song. These guys are from Kentucky and I have to say these guys are pretty good. Their set was full of energy and the one thing I will say is towards the end of their set I think they were trying too hard to be rock stars but overall a good way to start the night off. Highlights were “Rain Wizard” “Lonely Train and “Hell and High Water.” At one point they brought out a high school choir from Orange NJ to help on the background vocals and the ironic part is all the members of BSC were singing for this one song (and they had not done that in the prior songs), so you could hardly hear the choir. I figured the rest of the band would not sing background and let the kids do it but….

Then the second band to take the stage was Theory of a Deadman. They are from Canada and were signed to 604 records by Chad Kroeger- lead singer for Nickelback. These guys kicked butt. Their lead singer, Tyler Connolly, had an Elvis Presley hairdo that never moved throughout their set. Now I think the reason I liked them so much, (and I mean no disrespect to their fans) but they remind me of Puddle of Mudd (the “Come Clean” Puddle). I loved their first album and it was weird how similar the songs are as well. For instance, “Bad Girlfriend” or “I Hate My Life” struck a chord with me with the Mudd song “She Hates Me.” And tell me “So Happy” doesn’t take you back to “Bring Me Down” by POM? These guys are talented and their set was tight!! The highlights were “Santa Monica” and “So Happy.” Keep an eye out for these guys. Great sound.

By the time TOAD was finished, I was saturated (and for the people who know me, you could picture the puddles of sweat). I was warmed up and the anticipation for Shinedown to take the stage was killing me. I couldn’t wait. The crowd was mixed- some kids and some older dudes like me- same with the women- yes there were women there. I could tell the crowd was there for Shinedown and when I heard the snare drums piped in over the speakers as the beginning of “Devour” started, I was jumping out of my skin. The speakers for their set was almost as tall as the room and then there was a blast as the lights came on and there here is the man, Brent Smith, seemingly larger than life up at the front of stage and singing the opening lyrics “Take it and take it…” I felt an adrenaline rush and thought my ears and chest were going to explode off of my body it was so loud. And about a little more than 2 minutes into the song when you hear the bass by itself, I was so out of my mind that I wanted to take the stage and sing along with Brent as he wailed “diving down, round and round…” As the song ended I knew I was in for a nice ride. As the blaring guitars introduced “Cry for Help” the crowd was in a controlled chaos. No mash pit, which made me happy. I will admit at times, Smith’s vocals were hard to hear but their enthusiasm more than made up for it. And I was impressed that the fans knew all the words to the new songs and we all helped Brent wail the chorus “You better pray there’s another way out, you better pray someone’s listening now..” The frantic pace kept up with another new song- “Cyanide Sweet Tooth Suicide.” And it was great because all the words I knew were the chorus and again in unison the crowd chanted, “White… Lights… Train…. Wreck” The guitar work in this song and the breaks in the song were flat out phenomenal. Then it was on to my new favorite song of the week: “Sound of Madness”… “Hola here we go…” Talk about a head banging start out of the gate? I was “air-guitaring” and “air-drumming” all over the place; I couldn’t believe how good the show was at this point. (And it was maintained to the end).

The first song not from the new album was “Heroes” off of Us and Them (a friggin’ great CD) and this time the whole audience participated in singing the vocals for Brent. Hey they might have been playing for a “block party” type atmosphere but everyone was having a blast. Brent addressed the crowd and was pointing out that he never thought he would write a love song but his recent marriage changed this. And I knew what song it was before he even said it- “If You Only Knew”- the one song I told all of you to download a couple of weeks ago. It’s impossible to not like this song and to hear it live already was the icing on the cake for me. This will be their “staple” at every one of their shows going forward. I predict this song will top “I Dare You” as a fan favorite. He then explained to the crowd that they were going to play many songs from the new album; hey no complaints from me- I was prepared.

The setting was intimate and for “The Crow & the Butterfly” Mr. Smith explained that this was the toughest song he ever had to write. He said finding the right words took him a while-it is worth the wait. This is another fantastic song and “epic-like” where you get lost in the sweet melody. His voice is perfect for the song. Then at one point in the show, it became real serious as Brent was describing the song they were about to perform, “Second Chance.” He told everyone to “just be yourself”, be a good friend and live your life the way you want to. He described his seemingly hard upbringing by his parents. Seemed like they weren’t too happy that he wanted to be a singer and he insinuated that he was also hit while living under their roof. The song is directed towards them and the chorus states “Tell my mother, tell my father I’ve done the best I can to make them realize this is my life…” Powerful song & lyrics.

Shinedown continued to please the crowd as they performed some songs from “Leave a Whisper” with the highlight being “45.” As the show ended, Brent informed the crowd that it was the last song and even I assumed they were coming out for an encore but they didn’t. I heard a lot of complaints as the crowd was itchin’ for “Simple Man.” And the crowd did hear Simple Man- the original version over the speakers as they exited the Highline Ballroom. So what you didn’t hear “Simple Man”- I was more upset about not hearing more of their own songs. But not to the point that it made me not like the show- no way- the show was a blast and I can’t wait to go see them again. Next time I’m taking you with me!!!

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1 Comment »

  1. I was at that show too — and used to go to La Balloon in Brooklyn back in the day *lol* Excellent review!!! I was a little shocked/bummed that they didn’t do an encore either, but they KICKED ASS! They totally brought it and I can’t wait to see them again!!! We had our son with us and he was on cloud 9 the next day….we waited for the guys and they all signed his shirt. Way to go!!!

    Comment by Dare_Me — July 24, 2008 @ 12:30 pm


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