LEGENDS HAVE ALREADY RISEN & THE PROOF WAS IN ROGERS, ARKANSAS
Nope, I’m not joking. GODSMACK, HALESTORM, & MONSTER TRUCK made a stop in Rogers, Arkansas and as I said in the sub-title, left proof that legends have already risen right there at the AMP PAVILLION. Fans came from all over North Arkansas to see the biggest rock band on the planet and their guests Sunday, October 6th.
GODSMACK played a ton of music off When Legends Rise and of course the hits off Faceless & 1000hp. Without a hitch they went above and beyond, even for this Bird’s first night of fall. It was a cool evening after raining cats and dogs all day! And included in this show review, I’m going a bit deeper for those that aren’t as familiar with the band or hasn’t thought about them in a minute because it’s time to revisit and acquaint yourself with GODSMACK.
Look, if you’re not a big fan of GODSMACK, I need to school you on a few things because you’re missing out on an insanely talented rock band and by missing out on their music, you’re also missing out on the bad-assness of the players in this iconic American rock band. First, lemme say that SULLY ERNA is probably one of the most talented musicians that America has produced since, oh I dunno name one. And I can see you people that might be a generation or more behind that may have passed the band and members over because they’re not your style or you don’t want to listen because your dad and mom are fans. Whatever the reason is – just stop and open your mind just a little, finish reading this review, listen to the video I’ve chosen below, and then you can decide, m’kay?
Back to SULLY. So this dude might as well have had a funnel of music theory, composition, songwriting, and production piped into his brain during gestation because the dude has elements of everything music that are burned into his Sicilian rooted DNA. Actually, it’s more than chance, it is actually genetics that are attributable to his insane ability to compose the parts of the guitar, drums, bass, and vocals of a song since both his father and grandfather are musicians. While he plays the guitar in GODSMACK, he’s also a meticulous drummer as well. Consequently, SULLY has written the majority of GODSMACK’S material over the span of their 7 released records. (Check out the YouTube videos of the drum battle between SHANNON LARKIN and him here!) He is AMAZING as a musician and a front man. SULLY is the Fred Astaire of Rock on stage and gives everyone that feeling that they’re Ginger Rogers, but instead of dancing they’re headbanging it out!
While you might think that is a little over the top or egocentric, or that the other band members don’t have creative input into the songs GODSMACK produced, you’d be mistaken. The fact that TONY ROMBOLA (since 1996ish, replacing LEE RICHARDS), ROBBIE MERRILL (from the jump), and SHANNON LARKIN (since 2003 replacing TOMMY STEWART) have been together since 2003. Now it doesn’t take a rocket scientist or a professor of gibber-gabber to see that these players have to be the best of the best, right? SULLY isn’t going to write the music and then have subpar musicians play it now, is he? Nope. Plus, TBH why is it any business of anyone’s to say that the music of a band is better or worse because of the creative agreements the band has or doesn’t have? Like that’s going to make a big fat difference to someone hearing the music? Come on. Not to mention, the sole reason I even brought this up was that I’ve often heard this as an excuse as to why the music of GODSMACK shouldn’t be held to the same standards and I wanted to address that.
I honestly think that SULLY and the whole band have been somewhat overlooked as a massive contributor or the contributor to hard or alternative heavy rock for the last 20 or so years. I’m only going from 2003 because that’s when the World’s Best Drummer came into the fold…no, I’m kidding. Since the release of their self-titled Godsmack debut record in 1998, GODSMACK has been a constant in rock/metal. These dudes all have their big-boy-boss pants on when it comes to producing and performing in GODSMACK.
TONY ROMBOLA, as stoic as he is on stage, he is a killer riff man, whose talents go far beyond the rock genre. Have you heard him play the blues? JHC, hand to god I think he’s channeling Robert Johnson or one of the early blues guitarists and Stevie Ray Vaughn from the music hall in the sky when he plays blues. Which, IMHO might be the reason he is such as godam good guitarist. I also get a kick watching him play live and placing bets with myself which song he will finally smile or laugh. (BTW, it was in the middle of the 3rd song at the show in Rogers, for those of you keeping track…)
Since ROBBIE MERRILL has been with SULLY from the beginning, there’s that camaraderie between the two that has to be solid, right? I am only assuming here, I’ve never had a discussion about SULLY & ROBBIE’S relationship. I can say that ROBBIE is a performer that has a ton of fun on stage and he plays some of the sickest basslines, especially on the newest 2018 release of When Legends Rise. This time covering their show in Arkansas, I finally understood what gave ROBBIE‘S tone such a noticeable difference – he uses fingerpicks as he plays. So I looked it up on the www and they’re Dunlap Clear D’s for y’all that like to keep up with stuff like that and they’re part of the reason the notes come off the string so neat, I think.
SHANNON LARKIN (Best Drummer In The World) wasn’t unknown in the music world when he joined GODSMACK in 2002. For those diehard LARKIN fans, they know that he started playing in WRATHCHILD AMERICA 1978 (not joking, totes the year 1978!). After notoriety playing in clubs all over the east coast, they got signed in 1988 to Atlantic Records. During those first years with WRATHCHILD (AMERICA) were pivotal for SHANNON in that he met and played with so many younger bands that went on to be big or the musicians in them did. Playing in other bands after WRATHCHILD (AMERICA) until finding the throne in GODSMACK. SHANNON plays with a style that is unmistakably his creation; with the over handed contact with the tom. It would be hard pressed to find a drummer that played like he did before 1978, not to mention, touring as he did so early playing with bands like PANTERA, TESTAMENT, SLAYER, EXODUS, GANG GREEN, VOIVOD, & so many others, his style was already set in stone.
“SHANNON’S way of playing has not changed a single bit since first seeing him play in 1983-84,” a long-time friend, C. Stegall, of SHANNON said.Long-time friend of SHANNON LARKIN talks about his style of playing.
In Rogers, the band was on point and played to fans that otherwise wouldn’t see them on this year’s tour had they not come to WALMART AMP Pavillion. Ya, it’s odd to me as well that GODSMACK played at the WALMART pavilion after their record Godsmack was ripped off the shelves of WALMART in 1998 for the profane lyrics and those witchy-debil-like symbols inside the jacket. Fast forward, and here they are playing with little to no foul language on stage at all. There wasn’t even one ritual performed to the lord of darkness either! Imagine that! It’s nuts to think that the band’s first record is certified Platinum 4 times and probably, like SULLY has said in the past, all due to the attention that the adults gave the “filthy language”.
Anyway, sorry for that tangent – but I think it’s something to note how things change and how the ability for people to blow something totally out of proportion. I mean now in 2019 foul language doesn’t really exist, ya know? Instead of adjectives being dirty or offensive, in 2019 proper nouns are now met with the same disgust as four letter words used to be. Just go say “Trump” or “Comey” in certain circles and see what happens. I digress…
HALESTORM & MONSTER TRUCK
Don’t ever miss an opener that is on a GODSMACK tour. There’s a reason why an opener is on tour with GODSMACK and that is for you to know that band. MONSTER TRUCK is the opener on this leg of the tour, and they are a monster truck-like 70’s sounding rock band, hailing from The Great White North; Canada. Having heard some of their earlier work released in 2016, I knew that the fans in Rogers would love their clean and crispy groves. MONSTER TRUCK reminds me of the old and new best parts of rock with a few handfuls of grit thrown in the mix. They have some a sound that’ll rock your face off! Their soulful explosion of stoner mainstream rock grooves like the ruts in a worn road guide a tire. MONSTER TRUCK gave everyone a nice workout in anticipation for HALESTORM & GODSMACK. You can find out more about this band by clicking here.
Once again, I was totally blown away by LZZY HALE and the whole band HALESTORM. Seriously, I am not kidding when I say that their set was like taking a straw and hoovering up a chunk of adrenaline! LZZY was on fire and managed to pump the audience up with musical silicone from the first to the last song. They played a ton from their latest release, Vicious including “Uncomfortable”, which was nominated for a Grammy this past February.
The band’s shows have always left me with my jaw dropped because I can’t wrap my head around how LZZY can sing like a madwoman and then do it again the next day. She has a range that is strong AF but it’s not the range that’s as impressive to me. What grabs me by the girl-balls is the power that she heaves out the notes the way she does. I mean, it’s impressive on the record, but it is not mind-blowing like it is when she’s standing above you in the pit, armed with a guitar that she carries like it’s made of foam. She is just a massive presence when she is fronting HALESTORM. Even if she’s dressed in shiny pleather pants and a leather jacket that has fringe as long as a I am tall, does not distract from the band’s show.
AREJAY HALE, drummer for HALESTORM is phenomenal. I got to see more of his kit and obviously him, this show. Man, that dude can skin the skins like he was making the leather for his sister’s jacket! He has a keen precision with his footing and he is super sick with what he chooses to play for his solo. There is showmanship, but there is also true knowledge of his whole kit.
JOE HOTTINGER fits right into the melee that happens on a HALESTORM stage. He can get down with his bad self, or LZZY’S bad self with a quickness. He engages the crowd and packs a punch in playing on stage. Plus, he looks like he’s having the time of his life up there. Which is really what I want to see in a performer, I want to know they’re super-stoked to be on a stage doing what they probably thought would only be a dream, ya know?
The subtle and sweetness of the bass comes from JOSH SMITH as he plays just as fluid as flowing water from a spring. His interaction with the crowd is kinda cool though, because it looks like (and very well could be) he’s straight up staring into the soul of someone in the audience. It’s not creepy – it’s just serious and if I happened to be on the other end of that gaze, I’d either melt or just start laughing. However purposeful, it blends with the pop of his bass and the juiciness of the whole band!
Their set was full and fans went nuts at the amount of time they got to spend with HALESTORM. As for the band diggin’ Rogers, AK I think they had a good time and found the crowd to be spirited and fun. The lighting, sound, and the band’s position on the stage was perfect. They didn’t look cramped, nor did they look like hey were about to be swallowed up by some mammoth stage.
I wonder what would happen if LZZY & SULLY did a song together? I think for me personally, I would explode out of sheer amazement. Why don’t they do a song on tour? If they did one in Arkansas, I didn’t hear it or see it and it would have had to have been at the end of GODSMACK’S set. But I bet if they ever did a song, it would slay hard.
The tour with GODSMACK, HALESTORM, & MONSTER TRUCK is currently making the rounds across the US and you can see the remaining dates by clicking here. Dates of interest are KNOTFEST 2019 – MEXIO & BUZZFEST. You can also snag tickets and VIP passes at that link as well.