SHINEDOWN ... MORE THAN A ROCK BAND

By Diane DiMemmo

June 28, 2019

All live music photographers have a “top three” holy grail of shows we’d kill to shoot. And with all of the incredible bands out there today, my top three are Shinedown, Shinedown, and Shinedown. They are extraordinary. When I try to explain to others why this band (more than any other) means so much to me, I point out that these gentlemen - Brent Smith (Vocals), Eric Bass (Bass, Keyboards, Production), Zach Myers (Guitar), and Barry Kerch (Percussion) - are more than rock stars. Each of them is the epitome of an outstanding human being. Their kindness, generosity, humility and purpose “shines down” (pun intended) on those in their inner and outer circles and it creates an energy for us to aspire to, and live our best lives. When music becomes the vehicle through which a band can communicate such a powerful message, there are always going to be scores of devoted fans who will follow them for the long haul.

The packed-beyond-capacity PNC Arts Center in Holmdel, New Jersey was a testament to that very fact, for on June 28th Shinedown gave one of the best rock-and-roll performances I have ever seen. Every single detail of their show is meticulously planned and executed, yet it comes off as a personal show being given in an intimate venue to a smaller audience. They connect with their fans (whom Brent often calls “their bosses”) in so many ways, which is certainly a challenge playing in all of the largest venues. Brent leans into the audience and seems to sing directly to individual fans; he shakes hands with concert-goers and photographers; and makes conversation throughout the show as if he’s encouraging a friend by pointing out their strengths and potential. Eric and Zach never stay in one spot and cover the whole stage (running, jumping, and spinning while singing) to give as many fans as possible a chance to see them up close. I love that the band had their stage built around Barry so that he is often encircled and a part of band, as opposed to being regulated to the rear of the stage as most drummers are. Pulling him in like that is a typical move for Shinedown as they are a tight-knit group of "brothers” who look at themselves as equal parts of their musical phenomenon. Barry belongs center stage, too, as he is as much of a dramatic performer as he is an excellent percussionist. I love watching him stand up and then crash down on his set with every ounce of energy he has, while pointing his drumsticks toward the audience and across his neck.

Now if you’ve been living under a rock (I am truly sorry about that) and do not know who Shinedown is, let me tell you a little about them. Formed in 2001 (and solidifying their current lineup a few years later), this amazing group of musicians realized they had something special when the music they began creating together had such an immediate impact. Every one of the 25 singles released over Shinedown’s nearly two-decade career has ascended to the Top 10 – a feat unmatched by any other rock band, now or ever before. Shinedown has sold more than 10 million albums worldwide, has 13 platinum and gold singles and four platinum and gold albums, and has more than 1.5 billion total streams. Yup, that’s 1.5 “billion”!!

The band’s six successful studio albums are: (Leave a Whisper (2003), Us and Them (2005), The Sound of Madness (2008), Amaryllis (2012), Threat to Survival (2015), and their most recent creation, ATTENTION ATTENTION (2018). This latest masterpiece is also setting all kinds of records with the album simultaneously hitting #1 on Billboard’s Alternative, Top Rock and Hard Rock Albums Charts and debuting Top 5 on the Billboard 200. The opener and first single “Devil” earned the band an iHeart Radio Music Award nomination for Rock Song of the Year (in addition to a nomination for Rock Artist of the Year). Another hit anthem “Get Up” surpassed 40 million streams and the single “Monsters” recently achieved #1 on the Billboard Mainstream Rock Songs chart and has already amassed nearly 15 million streams and counting. ATTENTION ATTENTION was born from their personal experiences with depression and addiction and the only person the band trusted to produce the alum was their bassist, Eric. Each song of the album (in order) takes you through the journey of battling the disease starting at the lowest point with the song “Devil,” and working through it with songs like "Kill Your Conscience," "Monsters," "Darkside," "Get Up," "Evolve," and "Brilliant" (to name just a few). Eric said of the album, “I want this to feel like a journey. I hope it catches listeners’ attention. Throughout the process of listening to it, [I hope] the hair on their arms stands up and they become invested in this creation. That’s what I would love for people to take away.”

Having seen Shinedown at least a dozen times already, I am always excited to hear their setlist. With all of their hits, it must be a challenge for them to choose a well-balanced selection that will appease the fans, promote the new album, and satisfy their preferences as well. That evening’s setlist was my favorite (of all the tours) as it included a wide selection of old and new material along with their biggest hits from ATTENTION ATTENTION. The band broke again with tradition by playing the meat of their set spread throughout the entire audience. Barry had a secondary drum set at the sound board while Brent, Eric, and Zach were placed at various locations in the venue. It was an amazing sight and energized the crowd even more. It was just another example of how the band will do what it can to connect with their audience.

As always, Brent’s voice was perfection. His searing, passionate and rich vocals reach deep inside and take a hold of you while his lyrics add yet another layer of meaningful effectiveness. Zach and Eric are the perfect blend of kick-ass guitar licks and raucous rhythm that really define the band’s sound as a whole. And Barry? He’s just an amazing drummer who drives the music incessantly forward with an unparalleled energy all his own.

I don’t see this band of talented musicians with hearts of gold slowing down any time soon, and I’m sure I speak for all fans when I say, “I hope they never do.” We need their music and message today, more than ever. I’m happy to report that they don’t seem ready to slow down either. Brent recently stated, “I want everyone to know we will always go to the next level. There’s no ceiling. We’ll continue to push ourselves not only as musicians, but as songwriters and as people. I feel like [the] record [ATTENTION ATTENTION] is what the world needs right now. It’s about celebrating the will we all have inside of us. To me, this band means giving up is not an option. That’s why we never say ‘Goodbye’; we say, ‘Until next time.’”



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Asbury Park Vibes

Asbury Park Vibes is a media publication dedicated to shining a light on the live music scene, as well as promoting the artists we love! We strive to provide show reviews, photographs, and artist stories that bring fans and musicians closer together.

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