Shinedown, Three Days Grace + P.O.D. Devour Massachusetts With Rock Assault
“You left me here like a chalk outline” – the chorus to the first single off of Three Days Grace latest disc ‘Transit of Venus’ rang out almost prophetic in nature as the band took the stage to ravage a rock-hungry New England crowd on a freezing February evening in Lowell, Mass., on Wednesday (Feb. 20).
Shortly before the co-headlining tour with Shinedown kicked off, former Three Days Grace frontman Adam Gontier unceremoniously up and left the band without much notice, leaving them in a bit of a bind. Luckily, the music genes seem run deep in bassist Brad Walst’s family and he was able to recruit his brother, My Darkest Days frontman Matt Walst, to fill in on the trek. While this left Matt with some large shoes to fill and certainly sky high expectations, he seems to have settled into the role as the (temporary?) Three Days Grace vocalist with ease.
The band erupted onto the stage looking as if they just crawled out of the wreckage of a post-apocalyptic showdown. With guns blazing in the form of behemoth beams of pyro, the band certainly showed no signs of only having recruited their singer a month ago, they played like a well-oiled machine.
With one of the best bass faces in the business, Brad Walst performs alongside guitarist Barry Stock and drummer Neil Sanderson as seasoned vets on the stage. And while Matt Walst may be seeing some of the largest crowds he’s seen throughout his young career, you’d never know it.
It’s hard to deny that many bands are defined by their lead singer and vocalwise, Walst’s voice has a lower register and overall sounds a lot cleaner than Gontier’s. There’s a lot less grit and grime and a bit more clarity fueled by his tenacity to deliver the songs in a manner where they still sound familiar. Of course, Gontier's gritty vocals complement the often angst-ridded lyrics of Three Days Grace songs, but judging by the reaction of the crowd, Matt Walst was accepted with open arms.
While the future of Three Days Grace seems a bit unclear at the moment, the band has truly embraced the rebellious spirit of rock and punched it into high gear to move forward wherever their path may take them.
Shinedown were up next, starting off their set with a bit of a surprise. Drummer Barry Kerch walked onto stage solo and took his place behind the kit. As the music for their song ‘Enemies’ engulfed the arena, fans were searching to see where it was coming from. They only had to look back to the mixing board to see a separate smaller stage where vocalist Brent Smith, guitarist Zach Myers and bassist Eric Bass were getting the night started, rocking their hearts out. Halfway through the song, the three darted through the crowd and back to the main stage for a proper introduction to the near capacity venue.
With something that has become part of a ritual at any Shinedown show, Smith encouraged fans to say hello to the people around them, engage a bit, and just have a good time throughout the night. It’s this all for one and one for all vibe that provides a lot of the backbone to their latest disc ‘Amaryllis’ and fuels such a solid connection between the band and their fans.
Decked out head to toe in formal attire and looking like they’re possibly in the best shape of their lives, the sharp-dressed men of Shinedown didn’t let formality cloud their vision of getting down and dirty and delivering the best rock show in town. With a set that showcased their latest disc while still offering up some of the biggest hits of their career throughout, fans soaked up a retrospective of Shinedown’s full discography spanning from 2003’s ‘Leave a Whisper’ to their latest single ‘I’ll Follow You.”
One thing Shinedown has mastered is seamlessly in a live environment is transitioning from uptempo rockers to more heartfelt ballads without losing energy along the way. This is something that has clearly come from years of experience. There's a lot of fun going on up there too. Between Smith striking rockstar worthy poses centerstage, Myers and Bass swapping sides of the stage to say hi to the fans sitting on the sides, and Kerch's hair flying to the beat of his own drum, the guys in Shinedown obviously love what they do, and that kind of infectious energy is the permeating kind.
Although it seemed that their time onstage felt a bit short -- Shinedown fans would probably feel that way if the set spanned three hours – the band delivered a jam-packed set that featured a slew of familiar chart-topping hits.
Boom! P.O.D. got the night started with a short set that featured hit tunes like 'Alive' and 'Youth of a Nation.' Before their time was over, frontman Sonny Sandoval jumped off the stage and right into the fray to visit the fans in the front row and sing a song with them. After their hiatus, it’s great to see P.O.D. back in their element. It’s obvious that’s where they are at their best, so get there early to check them out!
The Shinedown, Three Days Grace, P.O.D. tour continues through the end of March, check out all the remaining dates here.
Photos of Shinedown, Three Days Grace + P.O.D. in Lowell, Mass.:
Three Days Grace: