Music, throughout history, has had a way of influencing the social behavior and norms found in human societies. Music is a universal language that is capable of bridging the gap between disparate people and entire social classes, cultures, and continents. Music can also be a tremendously personal thing, a song that has certain significance to one person may hold no meaning for the next. The current immeasurable dissonance in the social climate that spans the entire globe seems to push lost souls to seek comfort in music. In my humble Skullgurl opinion, that reason alone is why the world needs more bands like the four I saw on the second day of October 2019.
I have lived in the Heartland for most of my life, so when I say that it is rare that this area gets huge powerhouse tours, I know what I am talking about. In Skullgurl Speak, a powerhouse tour is one that each band on the tour has written and then performs a myriad of songs that I am able to sing along to, at the top of my lungs, no matter how tone-deaf I am. This very phenomenon occurred that crisp fall night when the Attention Attention Tour descended upon the picturesque slice of Midwest Heaven, La Crosse Wisconsin.
The night was launched in aggressive Nu-Metal style by the Memphis, Tennessee quintet, Savage After Midnight. I realize that most concert-goers usually don’t make it a point to see the opening band during a four-pack concert, so I feel compunctious for the Metal loving folks who missed this band that night. These five cats may comprise the band with the least amount of road years under their belt on this tour, but good golly Miss Molly, a person could not tell by their dynamic set. This band is one you are going to want to get yourself acquainted with if you are not already, and here is why: As Savage After Midnight played, I witnessed almost every single person n the main floor singing along with at least a couple of their songs.
Asking Alexandria, the next band to hit the stage, always makes my job as a reviewer super duper easy. I have experienced the magnificent anomaly that is A.A., and every single time they knock my skull emblazoned socks clean off. I do believe it is because this band is fronted by one of the most brilliantly gifted vocalists in the music industry. Danny Worsnop has shown his recherché gift of vocal versatility from the moment Asking Alexandria hit the music scene. Worsnop took the stage with his signature flair, causing the fans in attendance at the sold old show to go downright bonkers. Do not get it twisted, a frontman is just a lounge singer without an incomparably talented group of musicians to back him, which Worsnop is beyond blessed to have. Song after song, the crowds’ familiarity with the band seemed to increase at a blindingly impressive rate. There was one point in the band’s set that lead crooner Worsnop could have just let the crowd do all the vocals, ‘Alone In A Room’ and ‘Vultures’ revealed the crowd’s unwavering commitment to knowing all the words to the song of Asking Alexandria.
The direct support band on the Attention, Attention tour, Papa Roach, has had such a interminable career that I am still in awe with every new album they put out. Seriously, the amount of talent this band has possessed since their debut in 1999, is almost without equal. Staying not only relevant but remarkably popular in the music industry is virtually impossible to do for one decade, let alone three decades. I remember the very first time I saw P. Roach in the early 2000s and the sheer energy the band exuded on stage made a lasting impression on my young Skullgurl soul. I am telling the absolute truthy-truth when I tell say that Jacoby Shaddix and his bandmates surpassed every expectancy I may have had as far as what kind of performance they would put on. Each and every song, whether it was a newer track like ‘Who Do You Trust’ , or ‘Not The Only One’ from their latest album, or timeless classics like ‘Last Resort’, ‘Forever’ , or ‘Getting Away With Murder’, was met with such fervor there is no doubt that Papa Roach is Rock-n-Roll royalty.
The headlining band, Shinedown, came dangerously close to giving your favorite Skullgurl Metalchick a myocardial infarction within the first few seconds of their set with an impressively blinding and thunderous pyrotechnics display. Full disclosure, if I would have dropped dead right then and there from fright, I would have gone on to my next life a very happy Skullgurl. In my intro to this article, I mentioned that the current state of unrest in the world as a whole may cause people to turn to music as a safe haven. Brent Smith and the rest of Shinedown are undoubtedly one of the bands that creates music that so many shattered hearts and broken souls turn to for solace. Each album brings a new tour, each tour brings Shinedown front and center back into the Midwest. On that early October night, as Shinedown’s set began to unfurl, I was struck by the sheer magnitude of what I was witnessing. The Florida natives doled out hit after hit mixing new tracks such as ‘Get Up’, and ‘Monsters’ with goosebump-inducing, teary eye creating, forever in your heart classics like ‘I’ll Follow You’, and ‘Second Chance’. I feel I would be remiss if I did not mention an event that about made my knees buckle, the moment Brent smith spoke to the audience and told all in attendance to shake the hand of those around them. Brent made his request after the second song of Shinedown’s set, which met I and my fellow professional photographers were still directly in front of the stage in the photo pit. I watched in disbelieve at Brent, on bended knee, reached out to the five or six of us and shook each one of our hands. I have been doing this for twenty years, been in hundreds of photo pits, and this was the very first time I have witnessed this.
Hands down, this show was the creme de la creme of all the shows I have covered this year. These four bands should each be on your list of bands you absolutely cannot miss in 2020. I will even encourage you to try to catch any or all of these band yet in 2019, there are about 60 more concert-going days left in this year, make them count.
WORDS AND PHOTOS BY SKULLGURL METALCHICK