Jul 28, 2010

Carnival of Madness - Merriweather Post

By Bob Suehs

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SHINEDOWN / CHEVELLE

July 28, 2010

Merriweather Post Pavilion

Columbia, MD

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The Carnival of Madness tour is a brand new Summer-time venture that Shinedown are planning on making a yearly event; the tour is a play on the bands latest release, "The Sound of Madness" & I'll give it to Shinedown because they packed the inaugural version of the tour with some of modern rock's biggest sellers.

10 Years, Sevendust, Puddle of Mudd, Chevelle & Shinedown; All the bands on this bill have done very well in terms of record sales, radio airplay & whether you like it or not, the billing for this tour is a fair representation of what modern rock is all about in 2010!

Merriweather Post Pavilion is a historic venue in it's own right & if you've never been to this outdoor amphitheater then you have no idea just how unique this venue is.

The venue has a large amount of property with more than ample parking, & there's a massive amount of trees that would give you the notion that you're in the woods, BUT, walk outside the property & you'll discover that there's a large Mall, a massive amount of homes, commercial parks, & when you drive around the surrounding area you realize just how congested this area truly is & how weird it is to have a large, outdoor concert venue that makes ALOT o' noise so close to homes & businesses...to say that it must get annoying with the traffic & sounds that leave the venue all Summer long is probably an understatement if you live in that area.

The weather on the day of July 28, 2010 was hot as hell! I can sugar coat it, but the best way to describe it is like this; You know those days when you walk outside & immediately start to sweat, the days when there's not a breath of fresh air, the days that are muggy & humid & you can't wait to get in a cool A/C filled room...that's how this day was & if you didn't keep hydrated then you would be headed for trouble!

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The show started after 4:30 PM and it was on a week day and my initial thought is that this tour should have been a "weekend only" tour so that way everyone could get there & see the entire show. When early shows take place on week days you always alienate the people who work all day because you can't tell your boss, "Hey, I'm leaving early to see a concert!", so what happened with this show was that the bands who played earlier in the day didn't have a large crowd.

By the time I arrived at the venue I managed to catch the last 2 sets of the night, Chevelle & Shinedown. I was hoping Puddle of Mudd were co-headlining so I could catch them, but Puddle of Mudd's set had just ended by the time I picked up my passes & got into the venue. The only thing I can tell you about Puddle of Mudd's set was that Wes wore a dress onstage!

The stage for Chevelle was very basic; there was a large white sheet draped across the entire back of the stage & a minimal drum kit was in the center of the stage. Gear wise there were a few effect pedals, small amps, & the huge stage was almost bare when the 3 guys from Chevelle came out & started their set.

I remember seeing Chevelle on their first tour, they were on Ozzfest 2002 & they were playing the tiny stage; no one really knew who they were, the band played a short set & I remember a friend saying to me, "They remind me of Tool!" & she was exactly right, Chevelle has the same appeal that Tool has; the music is tuned nice & low, the vocals are beautifully bleak, the lyrical content is dark, the show is simplistic & the large white sheet behind the band was used to show a sea of mini flowers that changed colors & swirled about as the band played.

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Musically, I still feel the same way about Chevelle as I did many years ago; I can appreciate the bands writing ability, they write good music and I like the singers voice alot, but every song really does seem the same after a while. There's an overly depressing vibe that looms over Chevelle & the overly simplistic drop C guitar playing seems to drag on after a certain point and the limited guitar playing adds to the gloomy sound.

What I will give Chevelle props for is their live sound; I see alot o' bands on a daily basis & few live bands sound as clean & crisp as Chevelle do in concert! Grant you, there's only 3 guys onstage, but the sound mix Chevelle had this night was PERFECT!

Chevelle did something odd during their set that I don't quite understand; they played their "hits" towards the beginning of their set, then the rest of the set was stuff that if you didn't own their record you wouldn't have known....when you play large venues & do the "big" rock show I always thought it was a given that you save the "hits" for the end.

Probably the most interesting moment of Chevelle's set was when Pete said to the crowd, "The singer for the band that played before us came out here wearing a dress....that's been done before, Kurt Cobain did that in Nirvana years ago!" & I'm not quite sure if it was a playful dig at Wes from Puddle of Mudd or whether it was meant to be mean, but I thought the same exact thing as well & it's probably because Wes from Puddle of Mudd is such a Kurt Cobain wannabe!

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When Chevelle finished their set I surveyed the venue and saw I was correct in my theory that the show had started too early for a week day & that the average person who worked all day could not get there in time to see the entire show; shortly before Shinedown took the stage it was clear that the venue was packed!

The stage set up for Shinedown was a mix of video screens, the backdrop had a cool looking rippled texture & there were ramps all over the stage so the bands members could run all over the place. Production wise, this is the biggest thing Shinedown has EVER done!

Look closely at the pics of Brent that I posted in this review; what struck me as odd about him from the moment he walked onstage was an ominous "stain/wet spot" on the crotch of his pants....make your own assumptions as to what it was, but I'm just sayin', there WAS a wet spot on his crotch from the moment he walked out!

Shinedown opened their set with "The Sound of Madness" & lead singer Brent came out looking like a chubby circus barker, I swear he reminds me of Meatloaf meets Ozzy Osbourne so much, sporting a Circus styled jacket, side laced stretch jeans, sun glasses that hid black painted eyes, & a large top hat that was something Alice Cooper might have worn; The Carnival of Madness had clearly started!

Shinedown's set was diverse, they played 2 songs they did for movie's, a b-side & their cover of "Simple Man" originally done by Lynyrd Skynyrd.

Brent's ranting is to be expected when you see a Shinedown show & at times it's almost funny because during "Save Me" he was almost yelling at the crowd to make changes in their life & his point was interesting, but his delivery came off like a pro-wrestler & during this speech he spotted a girl who was text messaging & he called her out for texting, then told her it was cool, he didn't have a problem with it. The interesting thing about Shinedown is that they are a big rock band, yet they don't have the big rock attitude!

During the song "Heros" there were images of Johnny Cash, Ghandi, Jim Morrison, Bob Marley, & Martin Luther King flashed in the background & I was really surprised there were no Dimebag pics in that montage!

Brent chose a spot towards the end of the set to walk through the entire crowd & shake hands & when he decided to get back onstage he did something odd...with a security guy in place, Brent walked straight through the standing room only pit area & parted the pit as if it were the Red Sea!

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At the end of the bands set Zack took his shirt off & tossed it into the crowd and if you looked at his shirt closely you could see that he decorated it by hand & dated it & then the bands drummer did the same and tossed his white tank top into the crowd & Brent tossed several stage used towels into the crowd....the fans seemed to love it, but there's something that I've always found kinda gross about handing someone a towel that you've wiped your sweat with!

"Second Chance" was the nights closer for Shinedown & I think it was an interesting closer because it went out on a mellow note as opposed to closing with a rocker, but then again, "Second Chance" is the bands biggest hit so it makes sense.

Shinedown has been on the road for literally 2 years in support of "The Sound of Madness" so this large Summer shed tour was the perfect ending for the touring cycle of "The Sound of Madness" & overall it was definitely a fun night for radio friendly modern rock.

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SHINEDOWN set list

Sound

Devour

I Dare You

Cyanide

If You Only Knew

Diamond

45

Crow & Butterfly

Heros

Alice

Son of Sam

Left Out

Simple Man

Fly

Second Chance