On Collective Soul and 3 Doors Down

B and I have been tossing around the idea of seeing Collective Soul for a few years, but just have never bit the bullet on buying tickets. We knew they had a September show coming up, but we just weren’t sure about spending the money. Thankfully, our realtor is awesome and also works for a radio station and was able to get us free tickets.

Which is good, because the show definitely would not have been worth the money.

The show was at the Fillmore Auditorium, the last of the primary Colfax venues that B hadn’t been to and I hadn’t been to a show there since Dream Theater in … 2006, I believe.

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I did forget how cool the Fillmore is as a venue, especially seeing the lights reflect and refract through the chandeliers.

In all honesty and full disclosure, Collective Soul’s lead singer, Ed Roland, was definitely under the weather – with a bug or just a lost voice I’m not sure – and that affected the show quite a bit.

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Shot from Collective’s set.

Notes from the show, in bullet point form:

– I guess I didn’t realize how odd Collective Soul was.
– The third song of the set, “Shine,” was almost treated like an encore.
– I do feel like the “cheer for us!” parts were a bit repetitive.
– During “Heavy,” the video screens in the back showed the woman from the Dosage album cover … and her eyes opened and looked around and it was SUPER CREEPY and something I probably would have been totally fine never seeing ever in my life.
– “Better Now” was also super long (like “Shine”) which seemed weird …
– … but if you take them in the context of a jam band, it makes a lot more sense. I just never thought of Collective Soul as a jam band.
– “December” (my favorite Collective song) was awesome … EXCEPT for the fact that they didn’t sing the BEST PART (the almost background “December promise you gave unto me/December whispers of treachery/December clouds are now covering me/December songs no longer I sing”) which was tragic.
– “The World I Know,” with images of New York City on the video boards, made me cry ridiculously. Silly show on 9/11 …
– Late in the show, Ed admitted that he was struggling a lot and that they were going to edit the set list some … which meant that the ending was highly anticlimactic. They probably lost track of their stage time which is why, but given the length of “Shine” and “Better Now,” I was expecting a great finale and instead, the show just abruptly ended.

Next up was 3 Doors Down. I owned their first album waaaaaay back in the day but they were definitely a group that I never thought I would ever see.

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And again, I’ll do thoughts in bullet point form:

– I enjoyed the American flags on stage. I’m not sure if that’s something they do all the time or if it was just for 9/11, but I appreciated the touch.
– They weren’t particularly bad, but they weren’t really *good* either.
– The drummer was behind plexiglas … something I haven’t seen since the drummer of Within Temptation.
– They definitely sound better on CD than live. That being said, live or on album … everything still kinda sounds the same.
– I appreciated them thanking us after every song, but more/different crowd interaction would have been nicer.
– We skipped out on the encore because we are old AF.

I felt a little detached throughout most of the concert … more like I was observing as opposed to being a part of it (like at, say, Shinedown), which was super weird for me. Speaking of Shinedown, it makes me really appreciate how some bands are good at getting a crowd going AND it also makes me understand the obnoxiousness that was Brent Smith’s “you’re down here and I need you up here” volume crap back in 2013 now … even as it makes me roll my eyes.

Also, in terms of a 90s throwback tour … I thought the Under the Sun tour (with Sugar Ray, Better Than Ezra, Uncle Kracker, and Eve6 (even though Uncle Kracker was SO TERRIBLE)) was so much better.

And, as a final note … people seriously need to stop fucking FB or IG live-ing during shows because HOLY GOD is it annoying. And seriously, you have one or two people watching; is it worth it? And if your excuse is you want it for later … you don’t have to live it then! Bands tour because it is their best way of making money these days and you essentially making a bootleg can in theory hurt their bottom line.

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Shinedown, 7.31.2018

Also known as Shinedown show number eight.

Shinedown released a new album on May 4, “Attention Attention,” and I’ve been meaning to do a review of it here. Maybe soon. In any case, it is AMAZING. As a result, they announced a tour … and oh hey, they’re coming through Denver again in late July. *buys tickets* *have had tickets since late March*

We also finally decided to bite the damn bullet and purchase VIP/a meet and greet for this tour because
a.) why the hell not; and
b.) we’ve been talking about it FOREVER and if we didn’t do it now, we never would.

Thanks to that, we got in to the venue (Pepsi Center) early … and we probably got to the venue way earlier than we even needed to in the first place. Oh well.

We were ushered into the building, checked off a list, got our tickets scanned … and then herded to the club level to some cordoned off area. From there, we got swag bags* and then all sat around until we got word that the band was coming up. We stood up, essentially forming a circle around the room. The guys came in and split up to sign things, with Brent Smith and Zach Myers going one way around the room, and Barry Kerch and Eric Bass going the other way.

We got Eric and Barry first. From the instagrams, we know they fly Delta all the time, so B has been hoarding Biscoffs (the shortbread cookies DAL is kind of famous for serving) to give to them. All four were happy when they found out, but I think Barry was the happiest. “OMG I love these!” (almost a direct quote) I also wrote thank yous for the Myers, Kerch, and Bass families – as I’m also married to someone who’s gone a good chunk of the time, I wanted to let them know that I appreciate the sacrifice that it takes on their part and that I understand their struggle to some extent. And that we fans thank them for sharing their husbands with us. I think this struck a cord, as both Eric and Barry thanked me on two separate occasions for the gesture.

Brent Smith is an absolute sweetheart. Seriously. That man is freaking adorable. Super nice and I think he was chatting with people to find an excuse to ask for a hug (me: 8th show. B: his Shinedown quote on his RoadID) (yes, we both hugged him). He also said he loves Delta and bragged that he has the most miles out of all of them.

I hope Zach was okay, as he seemed a bit off. He’s mentioned anxiety lately, and I wonder if it was bugging him. Still nice, though, and he flashed his Delta AmEx Platinum card, which cracked both of us up.

After they all made it through, we got to take pictures with the guys. We were considering doing a photo together and then separately (and B did a separate one with just him and “the Other Guys” (that is, Eric and Barry)), but I forgot to ask.

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From L to R: Barry Kerch, Eric Bass, B, me, Zach Myers, Brent Smith. Also don’t let the angles fool you; none of them is taller than us.

Post-photos, we were let free to get early access to merch. In the line, we heard that they were letting all of us early access people on to the floor, so we split up – B went to run down to get us a spot on the rail. I didn’t see anything (originally) at the merch table, so I went to the bathroom and then in search of a little bit of food. Nothing looked good (whyyyyyy has your food gone so downhill, Pepsi Center? It used to be so good 20 years ago … back in high school … holy crap I’m old), so I just got us a pretzel to split and some water.

I go down to join B … and hear they’re selling show-specific guitar pick packs. Eff. So I dump my stuff and run back up … and even though the packs were super limited, I think I was able to snag one. And the last one, I’m pretty sure. If you recall my post from our last Shinedown show, I was able to catch each of the show-specific picks from that show and I really wanted the ones from that night. As catching picks is NEVER a guarantee … $20 well spent.

After standing around a long time, the opening act, Like a Storm, took the stage. They’re a hard rock band out of New Zealand, and were actually pretty dang awesome. Even though a Kiwi friend of ours joked that they’re going to have their citizenship revoked for playing a didgeridoo during the show.

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Whatever. The didgeridoo was f’ing awesome.

I also managed to snag a pick during the set, so yay for that. I need to look up their stuff on iTunes, and I’m hoping they’re more like Sixx:AM as opposed to Insomnium, in that their studio stuff is equally as good as their live stuff.

Shinedown was amazing as always. Clean, tight show, with very little downtime. The only bit there was happened because Brent hopped down onto the rail to make sure someone was okay (we had a few people pass out during the show – standing outside in the heat for hours prior to doors open with no food or water for several hours is NOT SMART, people).

But right into it, song-by-song. Band was a well-oiled machine.

We got three songs off the new album, including “Get Up” which YOU NEED TO LISTEN TO. RIGHT NOW. GO. Open up the link in a new tab and listen to it while you finish reading. Or listen to it and then come back. BUT LISTEN TO THE SONG. There’s a reason that just a video of a song (without even the actual music video) has damn near three million “views” on YouTube.

It also goes without saying that I cried throughout the whole thing.

We actually didn’t catch any picks this show, but it’s hard to catch them when none come near you. We did get a drumstick, though, but as we already have a BKerch signature stick, we traded it for an Attention Attention guitar pick. No regrets there.

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The one shot I got … and really only got it for the purposes of this post. Still loving actually enjoying shows without worrying about taking photos.

As we had to meet a friend who’s moving off to grad school in a week early the next morning for a hike, we didn’t stay for Godsmack (wouldn’t have been home by 9:30 otherwise! … again, we’re old). If a few of the songs I really liked that they’ve been playing on this tour were early in the set we would have considered hanging out for a bit, but they weren’t, so home it was.

Eight shows, and Shinedown has not failed to move me once. Okay, kind of once, but that’s because they got upstaged. Still, I will gladly see them another eight times, and we will also probably consider another meet and greet, as that was money well spent.

* the swag!

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Towel, drawstring bag, seat cushion thingy, a photo we got signed, hard copy of “Attention Attention” we got signed (gave our other one to someone we befriended in line so she could give something to a friend of hers), lanyard that got signed.

Birthday Shinedown 2017

In general, I like getting the hell out of Dodge for my birthday.

There are a myriad of reasons for this, but mostly, I like hiding. Part of it is because I’m right around a holiday (4th of July) and no one is ever around to celebrate, part of it is because everyone always forgets (parents included) … I’m a weird one in that I generally loathe my birthday.

B, wonderful as he is, has taken it upon himself to make my birthday as awesome as possible. Which for me, means spending it just the two of us (if able; his job makes this iffy), and not in Denver.

Originally, our thought was to go to Boston for my birthday (so I could eat all of the wonderful things), but cost prevented that. So, plans changed. I thought if B wasn’t home and had to work, I’d treat myself to a ridiculously expensive hotel room in the mountains (either Vail or Beaver Creek) for a night and hike around and see wildflowers and whatnot. Or maybe we’d do that even if he was home.

But then we learned Shinedown was touring some in the summer and what do you know … they were playing a show on my birthday. In Lafayette, Ind. That’s what we both honestly wanted to do more … so that’s what we did.

The morning of July 4, we hopped a flight from DEN-MSP and then caught a flight to IND where we rented a car and drove the hour or so to Lafayette. I’d been to Lafayette (well, West Lafayette to be specific) years before – my parents met at Purdue University, and my dad played clarinet in the band, so we went back for an alumni band thingy for him where he played on the field during a football game. I don’t think Brandon had ever been, though.

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Across the street from our hotel.

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Fourth of July band concert. Oh small towns …

We didn’t stay out to watch fireworks, but could see about a good dozen or so displays from our hotel window. And, since it was Indiana, where fun fireworks are legal, who knows how many of those displays were actually “official.”

The next morning, we woke up and hit up a diner across from the theater for breakfast.

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Random street piano I made B play for the photo op.

We wanted to see if anyone had started lining up yet, and thankfully, they hadn’t. After breakfast, we went for a run – training never stops ’round herrre – then back to shower and to explore.

We popped over to the Purdue campus for a bit – I was taking random photos and seeing if my parents could guess where I was – so I could see if there was anything good in the bookstore (there wasn’t). If they had a “Dad-style” shirt I would have gotten him one, but nope. We wandered over to the stadium so B could send pictures of a rival Big Ten stadium to his Gopher fan dad and drove over to the airport so B could get a sense of their flight program.

After that, we drove my history nerd self over to the Tippecanoe Battlefield.

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(We took a serious picture, too, if you can believe it.)

We were starting to get hungry again at this point, so we grabbed some snacks from a gas station and then ate possibly some of the worst Chinese food I’ve had in my life. So terrible.

(As far as birthdays go, this one was awful in terms of food eaten.)

Back to the hotel for a tiny bit and then to the theater to sit outside for a good four hours so we could be up front for the show. We didn’t have a bad spot – 10 back, maybe? – and I had my phone and my nook and some snacks. The hotel was also only four-ish blocks away so if we needed to pee, we’d take turns leaving and going back. This way, we could also take back anything we had to entertain ourselves before heading in. B also left the line at one point to grab us more food – salads and, for him, wings from Buffalo Wild Wings. Worst salad I’ve had from them, too, btw.

Eventually, we were let in, rushed the stage … and were pissed to find VIP people (who were supposed to all be on the upper level in assigned seats) on the rail. Grumble. In any case, we were only one person back from the rail and by the time Shinedown really got going, B weaseled his way up on to the actual rail.

First up was Lacey Sturm.

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They were … okay. I guess she was the singer for Flyleaf back in the day. My thoughts in bullet point form that I made on my phone post-show:
– meh
– bassist good
– guitarist played ZM sig? (in reference to a PRS Signature Zach Myers guitar; proven accurate on Instagram a few days later.)
– (her) voice got drowned out a lot
– sings with passion, but don’t get her stage presence (not sure with what she was doing up there …)
– one of the worst covers of “Roxanne” ever (did not enjoy)
– one of the cymbals fell over and it was funny
– someone in the audience said she had a good vocal range, but I don’t see it. Honestly didn’t like her style.

Basically, it’s not like they were bad; just not for me.

Between sets, we got to see the set up, as usual, and our location enabled me to spot something I’ve never seen before –

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Zach Myers’ Grizzlies guitar case. Ha.

Since it was birfday show, I didn’t want to take a lot of pictures – I really wanted to enjoy the show – so I only got this one, and I normally would have deleted it because, crap, but whatever.

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As for the show itself …

– It was SO. FUCKING. HOT. inside the theater. I was sweating so badly and at a few points, thought I was going to pass out due to the heat.

– Someone apparently yelled “you suck” up at the stage, so Brent Smith legit stopped the show to go lecture him and the crowd and saying they didn’t need to be there and could walk off the stage. I’m super glad they continued the show (for obvious reasons), but seriously? Whoever that was? NOT COOL.

– In this, my seventh Shinedown show (third state!), I finally broke my streak of seeing a new song performed. I’d already seen every song at this show. Kind of sad day, but also not really.

– The crowd at this show? Sucked. Unfriendly people around, a lot of Facebook live-ing going on, a lot of pictures … Ugh.

– I think because I was so happy, I cried through about 75-80% of the show. Seriously.

– Brandon was able to get Zach’s attention at one point with a scribble on his phone to say that it was my birthday; Zach mouthed “how old,;” I said 34 with my fingers; he mouthed “older than me;” I mouthed back “BARELY!” (okay buddy, by like four months); and he flung a guitar pick our way. It didn’t quite make it, but the security guard retrieved it and got it directly into my hands. (I made sure to thank him again specifically after the show).

All in all, we were able to snag four picks, and it was mostly me! Usually B is the guitar pick snatcher; this time it was me. Yay.

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Marquee post-show.

Going back to those guitar picks … I was the happiest that I was able to catch both Eric Bass’ and Zach Myers’ show-specific picks because it had my birthday on them … so I tweeted a photo of the picks and a thank you out, and lookie who retweeted it:

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Hee!

As we were ranking Shinedown shows later the next day, I found it hard to properly place this show. Not the greatest set list, hot as balls, shitty crowd … but the birthday happiness aspect makes it have a special place in my heart.

Once again, thank you to my husband as well as all of the guys in Shinedown – Eric Bass, Barry Kerch, Brent Smith, and especially Zach Myers – for making this one of the best birthdays in a long time.

Shinedown: West Coast Tour 2017

Also known as Shinedown show number 6 … the sixth show in four years and five or six days.

After we saw Shinedown in October, we figured we wouldn’t be able to see them in a while because of other tours and album writing and whatnot. But then … they released a small West Coast tour. We grumbled slightly about them not coming to Colorado this time, but then I spotted the first two shows on the tour – Albuquerque, N.M. on 3.31 and Tucson, Ariz. on 4.1.

I thought, “Dude. We could potentially see one of those two shows!” I talked to B about it and we decided on the Albuquerque show, as it’s a fairly easy drive down from Denver (6ish hours). He got the 31st off, I requested those few days off from work, we drove on down.

We were considering concert VIP for this show and thought we bought it … but all we did was buy VIP floor seats for the venue (which was 100% worth it, mind you). They had the meet and greets for the tour, but the packages for the ABQ show weren’t available until well after we had already bought our seats. Oh well, maybe next time.

Anyway, this show on the tour was weird in that there was no opening act. There are a few opening bands on this tour (As Lions, Cold Kingdom), but for whatever reason, not at this show.

We got to the venue (Legends Theater in the Route 66 Casino) way early because we weren’t sure if we needed to be in line for ages to get a good spot. We find out that we actually have seats for the show.

Third row, but chairs.

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Kind of dumb, but whatever. We had several hours to kill and didn’t feel like sitting in a car for the drive back to our hotel (30-ish minutes, probably more with traffic), so we gambled a bit and then played cards in the back of my Rav until it was time to find food pre-show.

We did pop in the time the doors opened at 7 to get our seats. B asked one of the security people if we could get on the rail, but she said no. Not that that stopped everyone once the show started anyway … So we did end up getting up front anyway!

Before I get ahead of myself, set list, courtesy of Setlist.fm:

Asking for It
Black Cadillac
Devour
Diamond Eyes (Boom-Lay Boom-Lay Boom)
I’ll Follow You
How Did You Love
If You Only Knew
Enemies
Unity
State of My Head
Second Chance
45
Cut the Cord
Simple Man
Sound of Madness

You could tell it was the first show of the tour as the boys were a little off (specifically through “Asking for It”), but it was a lot of fun. Brent Smith dedicated “Simple Man” to Zach Myers’ son Oliver, as it was Oli’s birthday that day (and during “Sound of Madness,” you could see Myers’ wife Bethany holding Oliver backstage. Cute kid.).

In terms of Shinedown shows we’ve seen, I would say it was average. Definitely not the best, but not the worst either. That’s not to say it was a *bad* show, though; on the contrary, it was pretty awesome. Myers was totally on this show and I think Barry Kerch was having more fun than usual.

Other items of note:
– Brent Smith, please stop growing the hair back out. You look creepy.
– Eric Bass, what the heck was going on with your hair???
– I quickly sharpie’d a “Happy B-Day to Oliver, Zach! :)” note on the back of our tickets (printed out) and showed it to him during “Simple Man,” and he seemed super touched when he mouthed “thank you” back.
– We raked in the souvenirs this show, with a drum stick (this one actually is a BKerch signature as opposed to the Halloween show one we got) and three guitar picks – one Zach, one show-specific (well, the first two shows of this tour) Eric, and a Back to the Future duplicate that we could possibly use to trade later.

I’m super thankful we made it to this show, as I’m not sure when we’re next going to be able to see them live again.

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On Sonata Arctica

Oh hey, another post about a metal show!

Like with Nightwish and Within Temptation, I learned about Sonata Arctica from my final college roommate, Amy. We technically had the chance to see Sonata (along with Nightwish) back in March, as they played in the Springs two days after Shinedown, but B had to work and we were both getting quite sick, so thought it prudent we not go.

Eventually we learn that Sonata was coming to town again and I was really kind of thinking I wanted to go, so fortunately, the timing worked out and we hit up their show at the Gothic.

We got up right near the stage as the night of the concert was in either the teens or single digit temperatures, so no one wanted to wait in a long line. We found street parking across from the Gothic so we could wait in our car until either:
A.) the doors opened; or
B.) the line started to get long.

In our case, it was (B), but we didn’t end up having to be out in the cold for long. We also saved our friend Jeremy a spot, as he was meeting us there.

The first act was Omnium Gatherum.

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They were okay. B and I actually were smart for this show and wore earplugs, but as a result, the growls of the lead singer got basically muffled into dinosaur noises, which amused me to no end.

Next up was Leaves’ Eyes.

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First of all, props to them for the proper usage of the possessive apostrophe. This grammar nerd appreciated that a lot. Secondly, we both thought they were good. It was a fun show, with it being audience interactive in that we did some sort of Viking chant/cheer thing and, as you see in the last photo above, the lead male singer came out in costume with a sword! Totally awesome.

Finally, Sonata Arctica. I’m trying to be better about enjoying shows instead of being so concerned about taking pictures, so as a result, I only have one to share from their act.

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Overall, both of us were happy we decided to come to the show. It was obvious that the band has been together for a while and has toured for a while. We hadn’t really heard much of the new album, but I downloaded a few songs off of it the next day due to liking them so much. I also got to hear “Power of One,” which is an older song and doesn’t get played all that much (but is my current favorite by them), so I was super giddy about that.

Also, while in general I think wearing ear plugs was a smart move, I don’t feel like I got as good of an experience wearing them, missing the true feel of the music. I’m unsure on whether I’ll wear them again to a show, or whether I’ll just wear them for the opening acts (as I do really like my hearing …).

All in all, a good time, even though I’m still not the biggest fan of the Gothic for a show.

Shinedown: Take Five

This was *technically* a Five Finger Death Punch headliner show, but since both B and I had to be up early the next morning … we skipped out after Shinedown. That, and I heard from my cousin (the one that tours with Papa Roach) that the guys from 5FDP are douches, so y’know. I trust him.

After the amazingness that was the Colorado Springs show, we weren’t expecting as good of a show, particularly given that it was a bigger venue. But, on the off chance we thought it was awesome because we were so close on the floor, I bought us GA floor seats pretty much as soon as tickets went on sale (in fact, I might have even gotten them through a presale).

It thankfully worked out that B was home for the show, sneaking home during a break in Delta training. I ended up having that day off from work, so we woke up, got in a run, and headed to Pepsi Center ass early (doors were at 5/5:30; we got there … before 2pm, I want to say) so we could storm the stage. Quite a few other people had this same idea, but we probably weren’t any worse than maybe 100 people back.

When we were finally allowed in (getting our floor wristbands), Brandon stampeded the stage while I high-tailed it to a pee room. We had been hiking down to the gas station while we waited for snacks, but the gas station that essentially splits the Pepsi Center parking lot doesn’t have a bathroom. No, it has porta-potties outside it … which were so damn disgusting that I just couldn’t.

While wandering about, I was also tasked with finding us food. Hot dog for Brandon and mediocre chicken fingers for me. I miss when food at Pepsi Center used to be good … back in high school …

Brandon, meanwhile, was able to get us essentially second row on the floor. I somehow fought myself, our food, and two waters (not in bottles; opened in cups) to him, aided slightly by concert buddies Brandon had made. We ate our food and I probably pissed more people off by sneaking back through the masses to throw our trash out and then snaked my way BACK. People probably did not like me for this, but eh.

First band to go on was As Lions. I’m pretty sure this was their first ever tour, which, damn, is awesome for them. They were British, but didn’t have that British rock band sound (see: that Springs post linked above).

In any case, the music wasn’t bad and they were highly entertaining.

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High energy lead singer.

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Set list. The bottom part cracks me up.

Next was Sixx:A.M., which I had heard a little about. They put on an awesome show – you could tell they have a lot of fun on stage, which I, as a fan, love to see.

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Next up, Shinedown. Firstly, before I get into anything, set list:

Adrenaline
Fly From the Inside
Diamond Eyes (Boom-Lay Boom-Lay Boom)
Unity
How Did You Love
Enemies
Call Me
State of My Head
Second Chance
Cut the Cord
Simple Man (Lynyrd Skynyrd cover)
Sound of Madness

Notice song #7 on that list. NOTICE IT. That is probably my all-time favorite Shinedown song that they hardly ever play anymore. But the song went Gold this year after being out in the world for eight years, so maybe that’s why? Or, as I joked to Brandon, “it’s because you yelled “Call Me” and “play Call Me” at the Springs show.” I cried throughout that whole song. And through How Did You Love.

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(I didn’t take as many photos this time because I chose to ENJOY the experience, and it was worth it. I also hopped around and danced like a crazy person, which had the happy side effect of making the guy who had seriously creeped up into my personal space back off lest he be elbowed or stomped on.)

Other highlights:

– caught three guitar picks. Two different, one the same as one from the Springs show, so we gave the duplicate to our concert friends.

– It was Eric Bass’s birthday, so they brought out a cake and we all got to sing to him.

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– The crowd test of Brent Smith hopping into the crowd on the West Coast tour must have worked out well as he did it again at Pepsi.

– During the “Simple Man” section, there was a tiny break and I was close enough to Zach Myers to show him the picture of the Germantown Commissary I put on Instagram (that he liked …), zoomed in on the logo … and he saw it and his eyes lit up in recognition and he mouthed, “Hey! That’s my hometown!” Pretty cool. Also pretty sure he attempted to flick guitar picks our way after that …

When wandering for food, I saw a tee that had “Call Me a Sinner, Call Me a Saint” on the back (clearly from “Call Me”) that I kind of just had to buy. And we got a shirt for Brandon, too.

While not as intimate as the Springs show, the guys are starting to show some better personality on tour which makes it that much more fantastic of a show experience. Sure, they do some generic schticks, but when it comes down to it, they just put on a great show.

And it helps when Smith doesn’t do the volume “you’re right here, I need you up here” thing, because damn is that annoying. Not experiencing that again? GLORIOUS.

Shinedown. They’re the best. Go see them. I’m at five times and will happily grow that number.

(Tour still going on now – see if they’re coming to you!)

The Great Southern Road Trip: Day Three

For our fifth wedding anniversary this year, we decided to take a road trip to race Ironman Chattanooga and cross a whole bunch of states off my list. This is the story of that trip.

Day Three: 9.21

While eating breakfast at our hotel, we almost considered going back up into Kentucky and hitting up Dinosaur World (near Mammoth Cave National Park), but we planned on Nashville, so off into the city we went. We were totally unsure on what to do (plans, sometimes we need them), but since we have our DMNS reciprocity, I found us a science museum to waste some time at.

The Adventure Science Center is a great place for kids – very hands-on type of activities – but for adults? Maybe not so much. While we had fun for an hour or so, both of us were very glad we didn’t actually spend money on admission.

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I am a child of the ’80s/’90s, so catching a ride with Ms. Frizzle and the gang? Totally awesome.

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It’s a T. rex!

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The center of the center was essentially an interactive science playground. Mmmaaaayyybe we shouldn’t have been on it as much as we were, but there weren’t signs telling us not to …

After that, we headed into downtown Nashville to hang out.

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Johnny Cash Museum. We did not go inside.

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We were hungry and needed lunch before anything. We were debating on a few different places, but when an easy barbecue option presents itself, you take it.

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Jack’s Bar-B-Que.

After lunch, we decided to check out the Country Music Hall of Fame.

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Walk of Fame-type deal across the street.

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A friend of mine pointed out that the windows make the building look like a piano. Can’t believe I didn’t notice it at the time …

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Old posters inside.

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Love this.

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Tons of records inside.

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The original “Jolene,” a.k.a. Brandon’s favorite Dolly Parton song.

I haven’t been to any of the other music Halls of Fame, but I enjoyed this one. Very cool seeing the evolution of apparel and instruments as well as the early “outside the box” collaborations that happened. We might think Big and Rich, for example, was strange for adding some rap into the mix, but similar mash-ups have been happening for years in the business. I only got into country in college and I kinda sorta have been able to get B into it, but even he really enjoyed everything.

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Ryman Alley.

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Stopped here.

After an afternoon downtown, we found ourselves another hotel near the Grand Ole Opry (if it’s a thing, it’s a subtle thing …) and went on to the Opryland grounds for dinner.

While both of us enjoyed ourselves, we think that Nashville would have been a better stop in the evening as opposed to the day (so as to really see all the neon in its’ glory and to just stop in a random restaurant/bar and hear some live music, kicking back with a beer), and that we might have been best served just getting to Chattanooga a day early.

States Hit: 1 (TN)
New States Hit: 0 (got this yesterday)