–by Jeff Quirin
–photos by Greg Artime/ Artimeg.com
The summer concert season may have officially come to a close over this Labor Day weekend, but Shinedown capped it off with a bang! On Sunday night the rockers hailing from Jacksonville, Florida came to St. Louis to blow the roof off the Hollywood Casino Amphitheatre one more time as they kicked off the fall leg of their Revolutions Tour. Like any good summer bash you can’t just have one entertainment option. Supporting the headliners on their tour were fellow rock veterans Papa Roach and one of the biggest rising stars on the metal scene, Spiritbox.
Meandering through the gates, past the merch booths, around the long lines for beverages there was no lack of Shinedown shirts through the crowd. Spiritbox may be amassing a large following and Papa Roach has had its fair share of big hits across the last 20 something years but make no mistake, this is and was a Shinedown show. Whether it was “45”, “Diamond Eyes”, or “Second Chance” that brought you to the band, there’s no denying their cross genre pull leading to a large crowd willing to fork over their hard-earned dollars to see a certifiable rock band deliver a rock show.
Spiritbox got the festivities rolling while the sun was still high enough to make everyone sweat just sitting in their seats. If the temperature didn’t get people’s heart rates up, vocalist Courney LaPlante, guitarist Mike Stringer, bassist Zev Rose, and drummer Josh Gilbert certainly did. Courtney, with her domineering stage presence, came out to a little platform out in the pit to belt out their newest release, “Jaded”, as their first song of the night. From there the group from Victoria, British Columbia went through some of their biggest songs across their most recent releases. From their album Eternal Blue they played “Hurt You” and “Yellowjacket” before jumping in to “Rotoscope” and “The Void”. To cap off their seven-song set they played the two songs most casual fans would know from them, “Circle with Me” and “Holy Roller”.
If there’s one thing to pick up from a Spiritbox performance, it’s that lead singer Courntney LaPlante puts everything into her performance. She can give you graceful notes, mesmerize you while she sways, and blow the lid off the roof with her scream. It’s a combination we’re thankfully starting to see more of in the rock/metal community, but you can put her right up there with the best of the best. Their stage set up was noticeably different from their headlining tour earlier this year. Gone was the see-through curtain for the first three songs, but the emphasis on color was still there. Courtney embodied the blue of the Eternal Blue cover with a tealish top and color coordinated baggy pants to match. During “Rotoscope” the LEDs glowed a warm orange red and a cool purple for “The Void”. If there were scores awarded for theming, they’d take top marks.
Next up was Papa Roach and they didn’t disappoint. Like any band with a discography stretching 20-plus years they have a lot of hits to pull from. Also, like about any other Gen Xer/Millennial they have a healthy appreciation for nostalgia. Standing in front of a narrow horizontal screen they started off with “Angels & Insects” from their debut album Infest. They ended the night with another from that disc, “Last Resort”. Now between those two emotionally heavy songs they filled out around an hour set with a few older songs like “Getting Away with Murder” and “She Loves Me Not”, while hitting some newer notes with “Leave a Light On” and “No Apologies”.
One thing you can’t escape with Papa Roach is how mental health is a major part of their sound and lyrics. If that wasn’t apparent by songs like “Scars”, it was made very obvious when the band took a respite while a video from frontman Jacoby Shaddix talked about the topic and how there would be a donation in the name of the concert to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. To hear him talk about practicing gratitude and being grateful to get to do what he loves everyday, connecting with people showed a lot of vulnerability. The fans saw him and matched the energy as they sang along with “Scars”.
The highlight of the Para Roach set, for 40-something like me, was hearing the band cover “California Love” by 2Pac and “Firestarter” by Prodigy. Definitely took me back to freshman year of high school in one of the best ways possible.
I’ve heard Shinedown on the radio for a long time. Even thrown a few songs on random playlists over the years. If they come on the radio, I’m not turning them off. However, seeing them live was a first for me. I wasn’t prepared for the show they would deliver.
For nearly two hours they tapped into all corners of their catalog, and beyond, to give you so many different looks. Whether it was lead singer Brent Smith coming out with a sport coat on through a giant two-sided screen that parted to reveal the band or him dropping the business attire for a denim sleeveless jacket. Could be the wild fireworks of “Diamond Eyes”, the flames bursting up from the stage a handful of times or slowing it down to hear an acoustic song or two. All of them dazzled the audience in different ways.
There is a collection of things that really stuck out to me though. After seeing Jacoby Shaddix go out into the crowd for an entire song, very early in their set, and seeing how Courtney commands the stage, it was strange to see what I felt was limited engagement of the crowd. That all changed when Brent swapped jackets. It’s like they had to get the business stuff done first and then they could open up. Playing an audio clip of Casey Kasem introducing “Second Chance” was a nice touch. There are few music icons that didn’t play an instrument or sing a song that are as well remembered as Kasem. It also speaks to just how big Shinedown has become over the years. Kind nods by lead guitarist Zach Myers to iconic St. Louis venues in Pop’s and The Pageant underscore that they started small and made their way. How’d they do that? By being played on the radio, specifically 105.7 the Point. Another shoutout to the local rock and alternative radio station that has helped so many other bands become big in St. Louis.
Not many would believe rock bands have range. It’s not all shredding and screaming. Taking time to play a classic like “Simple Man” and an almost universally adored anthem like “The Middle” by Jimmy Eat World showcased that they have that range. A welcome change of pace after hours of jumping and headbanging.
If there’s a final take away from the show it’s that mental health is an important topic. Whether fans realize it or not, it’s a major topic in Spiritbox’s lyrics. Courntey digs deep and opens herself up to a lot of her history where things aren’t always great. Papa Roach has dealt with it in essentially all their albums. The song “45” alone should tell you all you need to know about its importance to Shinedown. Rock and metal music, like any other music, builds a community around it. A place where you can go and be seen as who you are with people who see you for who you are and enjoy spending time with you. Even if it’s only for a few hours on one night. There is power in that sense of community. That sense of belonging. Hopefully someone hurting last night found that and it brought them through to today. Somewhere where a light was left on for them to have a second chance and not hurtle into the void in fear.
Be sure to check out the gallery of photos from the night after the setlist below.
Diamond Eyes (Boom-Lay Boom-Lay Boom)
Dead Don’t Lie
I’ll Follow You
The Crow & the Butterfly
Sound of Madness
A Symptom of Being Human
The Middle (Jimmy Eat World cover)
Simple Man (Lynyrd Skynyrd cover)
Cut the Cord