As part of the Summerfest 50th year celebration, Shinedown kicked off their summer tour by headlining the Harley-Davidson Roadhouse stage in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. To say the area was packed with fans was an understatement. The venue even delayed the band’s start time so everyone had an opportunity to get in.
However, once the music being played through the PA got a bit louder, you knew it was getting closer to show time. Over the years, Shinedown has had various pre-recorded intro songs. For this particular Summerfest show, it was Let’s Go Crazy by Prince and it played all the way through to the end. The music then switched gears to get the crowd pumped up and slowly, the dark stage started to light up, including outer rings on Barry Kerch’s dual kick drums. Once the lights were fully up, the intro to Devour, from 2008’s The Sound of Madness, started and it was game on. The fast-paced song, included growling backing vocals from Zach Myers, and snarling faces made by Barry. This was a perfect start to the night. Fly From The Inside (Leave A Whisper, 2003), a beloved song of longtime fans, added to the tempo set from the start. Colorful lights and fog filled the stage as the band was going full speed. Between Barry’s dreads flying in circular motions to the beat and the dual jumps from Zach and Eric Bass, the band were firing on all cylinders.
When Brent asked for a show of hands from those seeing Shinedown for the first time, a lot of hands went up. He told the crowd, before they went any further, they had to take care of something very important. He told everyone to look left and then right because they probably didn’t know the person standing next them. He asked everyone to turn to their neighbor and shake hands or give high-fives. People obliged. Brent even started shaking hands with the photographers standing along the front of the stage. He then looked to the crowd on his right and asked them to repeat, “Boom Lay, Boom Lay, Boom.” After a couple chants, he looked to his left and had the crowd repeat the same. He eventually counted everyone in at the same time and they all yelled the chant once more as loudly as they could and the bombastic Diamond Eyes was off and running. Including Zach and Eric who had switched sides and were jumping along in time with the beat.
They stepped it down a few notches with the powerful message in How Did You Love from their last album, Threat To Survival before another from Sound of Madness, If You Only Knew. To the delight of fans, Brent jumped off the stage and ran to the back of the center T barricade. He told everyone Shinedown were in the middle of making their sixth album but they wanted to take some time to come out and see their friends and family and all of Milwaukee. He had one request of the crowd though. He wanted them to let it go. Meaning, when he told them to jump, he wanted them to jump. He said, “This is not a game, this is not a joke. This is your night. This is your moment. This is your history. So let’s get after it.” He ran back to the stage, encouraged everyone to participate, then counted to three, yelled jump and the crowd jumped. The band then launched into Enemies (Amaryllis, 2012). Talk about getting the crowd pumped up. There was so much energy coursing through the audience.
After Unity, Brent mentioned he was surprised when he noticed they were going on so late but then joked that he knew no one was going to bed that night. Brent decided to skip the speech he had prepared prior to State Of My Head and instead, told everyone they had magic in the palm of their hands. He asked for the stage lights to be brought down and then asked everyone to take out their lighters and cell phones and to leave them up for the entire song. People’s hands then began to bounce along to the beat of the song and eventually moved back and forth as directed by Brent. To see all the lights in that one contained space was pretty cool.
During Second Chance, Zach played both acoustic and electric guitar and it was now time for the loudest sing along of the night. And it wasn’t even prompted by a band member. From where I was standing, the crowd seemed to be louder than Brent’s singing. People definitely love this song. Bully lead into Cut The Cord and after the song ended, there was a funny comment from Brent. Due to the proximity of a nearby stage, there were times between Shinedown songs when you could hear loud beats from another artist performing. Brent joked, “Who is that? Is that deadmau5?” Zach answered with, “Shinedown is playing and that is all that matters.”
Brent, with Zach on acoustic, were alone on stage during 45, which some would argue is their most popular song on Leave A Whisper. While they played a shortened version, just the first verse and chorus, Brent let the crowd take the lead,
“What ever happened to the young man’s heart
Swallowed by pain, as he slowly fell apart”
They stopped playing and Brent told those in attendance they were an absolutely outstanding audience. He said they never take these moments for granted and the only reason the band was on stage was due to every single person in the audience. He thanked Milwaukee for being there since day one. “To us you’re all family. Thank you so much for allowing us to be ourselves.”
Zach then spoke to Brett off mic and Brent relayed that it wouldn’t take four years from them to play Milwaukee again. Zach kept talking to him and Brent was shocked it had been eight years since they last played Summerfest. [Earlier in the day Zach posted the stats on his social media.] Brent jokingly asked if everyone wanted their money back and admitted that it had been way too long. They continued with an acoustic version of Simple Man that included plenty of opportunity for the crowd to sing along.
As the night came to an end, the band gave every ounce of energy they had left for title track, Sound of Madness. While the album may have been released nine years ago, it still evoked just as much excitement in the fans as I remembered when I saw it played live for the first time at Summerfest all those years ago. Shinedown fans are dedicated, passionate and enjoy playing a role in supporting rock ‘n’ roll. In turn, Shinedown continue to give 110% of themselves by writing meaningful songs, playing powerful, memorable performances and over all, never forgetting who is the boss.
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