Under the Sun Tour

Little known T fact: I was a huge Better Than Ezra fan in my youth. They are arguably my first favorite band and “Good” was my favorite song for years.

Now, I’ve seen most of the bands I’ve considered “favorites” over the years live. Metallica, Apocalyptica (okay, so they just have my favorite song), Shinedown. However, I’ve missed out on BTE.

(I should note that I did have an opportunity in college – they played the Paradise Rock Club and I almost went … but missed it because I was in theory going to hang out with one of the Suffolk hockey players. Stupid men. I regret not going to that show to this day.)

In any case, in randomly looking up summer concerts, I found out they were coming to the Denver Botanic Gardens at Chatfield as part of the Under the Sun tour on July 28. A lot of stuff was going on in our lives but Brandon and I bit the bullet and bought the tickets and went to the show.

The tour – 90s throwback! – consisted of Eve6, Uncle Kracker, Better Than Ezra, and Sugar Ray.

We missed the first part of Eve6’s set thanks to traffic and picking up food.

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They were … okay. I’ve seen better, I’ve seen worse.

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Concert selfie!

Next up was Uncle Kracker. First few songs were boring as hell and he was doing nothing to get the crowd into it. Except after the first few songs, and then he yelled at us for sleeping on him – sorry, sir, that’s your fault for SUCKING. They picked it up a little … but if I don’t see them again I won’t be sorry.

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Next up was Better Than Ezra, and they were AWESOME. They opened up with “King of New Orleans” and went straight into “Good” after that. Kevin Griffin said that they weren’t going to wait for anything and went straight after it. I was going to stay in the grass with Brandon … but I couldn’t help myself and ran up to the stage.

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I forget the whole set (and it’s not on Setlist.fm yet), but I do know they played “At the Stars” and explained that they actually wrote the song up outside of Crested Butte, which was really cool for this Colorado girl.

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They also had Michael Jerome on the drums do a really cool set using only cowbells. I love drummers and the cool shit they can do, man.

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They finished up the set with “In the Blood” which, although it opens up “Deluxe,” is a strong finisher, too. To top it all off, I managed to catch a guitar pick. Night? Made.

However, the night wasn’t even over yet. We still had Sugar Ray to go. Brandon had seen them in college and said they put on a great show, and after seeing them, I have to agree. Mark McGrath may be in his late-40s, but he is an entertainer, plain and simple, and he is awesome.

(He also referenced his roles in the “Sharknado” franchise, which made me super happy. If I had had more time, I was considering bringing a stuffed shark to throw on stage.)

Sugar Ray was just plain fun. There were beach balls tossed around, a cover of “Unbelievable” (apparently one of the guitarists (bassists?) wrote it) … it was pretty awesome. We also both headed down to the stage for this show … as did quite a few other fellow concert-goers.

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Nightwish Concert

I was all set to write a post on a different subject and then realized I totally forgot I hadn’t blogged about this concert yet … probably because it got lost in the house shuffle.

Anyway, way back on April 21 (so two months ago), I went to yet another metal show – Nightwish, with Delain and Sabaton. I’ve known of Nightwish since college – my roommate Amy was a big fan (same deal with Within Temptation) – but that was two (or three?) lead singers ago.

The show was at the Ogden Theatre, the only one of the Colfax venues I haven’t been to. Now that I’ve been to all three, I have to say I prefer the Bluebird over all. We also didn’t have the greatest spot at this show so maybe that led to part of my dislike of the Ogden, but eh.

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Marquee.

Delain I believe was already playing when we finally got inside. I remember them being better than Brandon led me to believe, but that could have been an Insomnium thing where they’re better live than in studio.

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Next act was Sabaton, a Swedish metal band who plays songs based off historical events. Obviously I thought they were awesome. Even if I didn’t like their music however (although I did), I would have been a fan thanks to the lead singer. He noticed a young girl up on the balcony – probably about 12-years-old or so – and started talking with her. He learned that it was her first concert (I think; at least first metal show) and for a memory, tossed her his sunglasses.

I believe metal gets a bad rap a lot of the time thanks to the stigma that all metal bands are devil worshippers and whatnot (okay, I get the Ozzy Osborne thing, but if you actually look at some of Black Sabbath’s lyrics … they were anti-war and politically motivated. Go on. Research “War Pigs/Luke’s Wall” and get back to me.), but I have friends who are wonderful people and also huge metal heads (my friend Jeremy, for one) and have met some of the nicest people at metal shows. As a result, I’m super happy for the lead singer for making the gesture toward a young fan, because it proves that stereotypes aren’t always real.

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As for the Nightwish show, it wasn’t nearly as good as Epica or Within Temptation were. It wasn’t bad, per se, but I got hooked on Nightwish during the Tarja days, and Floor, while awesome, just isn’t Tarja. It’s a different sound (which both Brandon and Jeremy like, by the way), but it doesn’t quite do it for me.

Me being so tired I was half-falling asleep during the show probably didn’t help, either …

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Would I see them again? I don’t think I can answer that question. Sabaton was fantastic and writing this post reminds me I need to look and see if their studio stuff is as good as their live stuff. Nightwish … maybe. If it’s not at the Ogden.

Within Temptation Concert

While I’m a fan of a lot of different types of music, it seems I’m mainly going to metal shows these days. I think I should blame the husband on this one …

Anyway, Within Temptation came to town on September 27 and since they’re one of Brandon’s current favorite bands, he bought us tickets. I’ve known about them since my college days, as my roommate Amy was a fan.

It was a small-ish show – just WT and Amaranthe, which was happy for me as it meant I could get to bed before midnight (lord I’m old). Our friend Jeremy likes Amaranthe a lot, but this was the first I heard them – they’re pretty good.

However, the Within Temptation set blew me away. The few Shinedown shows I’ve seen recently have been amazing, but Sharon and the crew legit brought me to tears a few times during the show. It has been a long, long time since music has moved me that much. If they come back to the states on their next tour, I will 100% go again.

And now, the photos, because really, this wouldn’t be complete without them.

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Marquee at the Gothic. This was the first show I’ve ever been to at the Gothic – wasn’t bad, but I think I prefer the Bluebird.

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Amaranthe.

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Husband in between sets.

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Lead singer Sharon den Adel, before she ditched the jacket.

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Sharon.

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The band. Thought it a tad strange the drummer was behind plexiglass …? Maybe he just gets that sweaty …

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Sharon with these super cool fringed arm sleeves.

Carnival of Madness

A week ago Tuesday, September 10, the Carnival of Madness came to Red Rocks Amphitheatre in Morrison, Colo. Shinedown headlined, with Papa Roach, Skillet, In This Moment and We As Human. Given how much I raved about Shinedown last time they were in town and given the fact that this show was at Red Rocks, only the coolest concert venue ever, it was obvious that I was going to buy tickets.

Unfortunately, like last time, Brandon couldn’t go with me. This time, it was due to him upgrading to captain and therefore being in airline training. Luckily he was able to go to their St. Louis show on 9/7 thanks to my cousin Mike, who does sound for Papa Roach.

In any case, unbelievably awesome show in the rain. It rained off and on from when I got there (at the end of In This Moment) until the Shinedown set … where it dried out until the encore when it poured and pretty much didn’t stop for the rest of the week.

The set list was very similar to last time; it is, once again, thanks to Setlist.fm:
I’m Not Alright
Enemies
Devour
Unity
The Crow & The Butterfly
Adrenaline
I’ll Follow You
Diamond Eyes (Boom-Lay Boom-Lay Boom)
If You Only Knew
Amaryllis
****
Sound of Madness
Second Chance
45 (first verse and crowd participation
Simple Man (Lynyrd Skynyrd cover)
Bully

Also thanks to Mike’s unbelievable generosity, I got a set of drumsticks (Tony Palermo; Papa Roach), some PR guitar picks, a shirt (with a sugar skull!), and a VIP pass so I could watch part of the Shinedown set from the sound booth and hang out with Mike on the bus. The only thing I asked for – and felt a little guilty for – was to see the legendary signature tunnel at Red Rocks … and it was totally cool and totally worth it.

Any regrets? Brandon thought I might have been able to meet the bands … which may have been possible after the show if it weren’t for the horribly miserable rain, but as AWESOME as that would have been, it wasn’t something I was expecting. So yeah, a little sad, but can’t be sad about something I never thought I would get. My main regret was actually not getting a picture of me with my cousin, since I rarely see him. Dangit.

I also regret not getting to the show earlier for a better spot. I was waaaay off to the side – obstructed view, they’d call it – and couldn’t really grab good quality photos. Boo.

Anyway, pictures!

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In This Moment. I missed most of their set – what little I heard wasn’t bad, though. I did miss the other opening act, We As Human, so I can’t speak to them.

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Mike setting up on stage with his crazy orange in-ears.
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Papa Roach.
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Creepin’ on Mike while he’s doing his actual job of sound mixing.
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Crowd totally into Papa Roach.

While yes, I mainly got tickets for Shinedown, it was really cool to see Papa Roach live – they put on a great show. Very high energy – lead singer Jacoby Shaddix kept hopping into the crowd and I swear went at least 30 rows up. They are entertainers for sure and it was fun to see.

Next up was Skillet – they and Papa Roach switch off on the tour as to who’s second to the main act. Skillet is a Christian group and seemed a little out of place on the tour, honestly. The music wasn’t bad and I liked a few of their songs, but the energy? Lacking. I saw a whole bunch of people sitting down during their set and that shouldn’t happen during an awesome show. The music should speak to you so you WANT to stand and sway and clap your hands and stomp your feet or what have you. Skillet didn’t inspire that in the crowd.

I basically used the Skillet set to wander around to try and thaw my limbs out … which meant buying a sweet burnout Shinedown tee at the merch booth and talking with Mike quite a bit. I was okay with this.

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Logo on the video boards.

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Shinedown opening with fire dancers (it IS a carnival, supposedly) and one of my new favorite songs by them, “I’m Not Alright.”
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Crowd lighting up the Amphitheater for “The Crow & The Butterfly.”
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The creeper view of Brent Smith (that is, from the sound booth). Best perk of being back here? Closer to the pyrotechnics – warmth!
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These cords make the music happen. Also: set list.
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Closer view of Zach Myers and his AWESOME ARGYLE SOCKS OMG WANT. Yes, I like argyle. Yes, I lusted over his socks. Yes, I’m weird.
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More carnival people – this was during the encore; either right before or right after “Sound of Madness.”
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Brent Smith and Zach Myers on the railing (in the rain) for “45”/”Simple Man.” Getting soaked like the rest of us.
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Near the end of “Bully.”

And because I had to, the signature tunnel:
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Shinedown Concert

I don’t go to many concerts. I did in college – a lot of small, local bands, mainly – but only a handful over the past several years, with the last obviously being Epica. A lot of it is due to cost – concerts are expensive, man. That being said, if I really like a band, I know I’d try to make it work.

Enter Shinedown. I think I had heard their stuff – maybe – off and on, but I was really introduced to them by Brandon, who’s known about them since 2003. So, when I heard they were coming to Denver (well, Broomfield, which is close enough), I decided that we were going.

Slightly easier said than done. We thought the show was Tuesday, 3.26. Legit could have sworn that was the date. Brandon put his work request thinking Tuesday night as did I. Then, I go to get the tickets, and it’s Monday, 3.25. So, since the date … changed? we’re stupid? something? … Brandon couldn’t go (was in Kansas City that night) and I couldn’t really change my work schedule around to be off on Tuesday (though I did get stuff switched so I could come in at 6am instead of 4:15am), so I could go, but I wouldn’t get much sleep.

Luckily, my friend Claire is awesome and decided to come with (even though she had to be at work at 9am) and be my date.

The show was up in Broomfield at the 1stBank Center. I’d been there once prior – back in … 2006, I think? 2005? … for a CHL game to see the now-defunct Rocky Mountain Rage, but never for a show. Or anything else.

Venue wasn’t bad – I think I’m partial to smaller ones, just given my concert history – but still relatively intimate given it’s size. We had floor “seats”/general admission which wasn’t bad. I would have liked to get a bit closer to the stage – like I did at the Epica show – but didn’t happen.

Opening act was P.O.D. We got there in the middle of their short set. I owned their CD (or at least the one with the songs that everyone still knows – “Boom,” “Alive,” “Youth of the Nation”) back in the day. It was okay, but nothing special.

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Next up was Three Days Grace. Going into the show, I didn’t think I knew anything by them, but after hearing them play, I definitely recognized quite a few of their songs. I listened to them again after the show on iTunes and, like Insomnium at the Epica show, I think they’re better live. I was pretty impressed with their show and liked the post-apocalyptic Las Vegas theme they had with their backdrop.

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One of my favorite parts of that show was when the drummer went off on a solo that lasted several minutes. A small part of me still wants to learn to play the drums even though I know I totally don’t have the discipline (or the money) to learn.

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Next up was obviously Shinedown. I originally thought they were the headliner, but given the length of their set and of Three Days Grace’s, I’m pretty sure it was a double-headliner.

Here’s the setlist, thanks to Setlistfm.com:
Enemies
Devour
Unity
The Crow & The Butterfly
Save Me
I’ll Follow You
Diamond Eyes (Boom-Lay Boom-Lay Boom)
If You Only Knew
Amaryllis
45
****
Sound of Madness
Second Chance
Simple Man (Lynyrd Skynyrd cover)
Bully

All in all, pretty damned awesome.

Here are the photos I took from the show … you can tell I was a bit far back.

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During the “Simple Man” section … since it really was a section.
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A few other notes:
– I would SO pay to see them again. Fantastic live show. That, and Brandon needs to come next time.
– They didn’t play my favorite song (“Call Me”), but they played numbers 2 and 3 in “Second Chance” and “If You Only Knew,” so I was happy.
– I took video of “Diamond Eyes” for Brandon as his consolation prize.
– I LOVED the fact that the band was dressed up, so to speak, in shirts and ties for the first part of the set. Very dapper.
– Lead singer Brent Smith can be happy in the fact that yes, I did follow his advice and taunted Brandon for not going to the show and yes, he does hate me for it and regrets not being there. Silly work.
– Smith was also right about music elevating oneself and floating out of the building, because I had Shinedown in my head the entire next day at work. Still do half the time, if I’m being honest with myself.
– Can they come back to Denver? Like, tomorrow? Kthx.
– LOVE the message of “Bully,” and the story of Amanda Michelle Todd that they share, but I have two nitpicks – 1.) it’s hard to read Todd’s story on the video screen and try to watch the band perform and 2.) did that seriously have to be the last song? Way to leave us on a depressing note. I’m sure it’s purposeful in that the powerful message is the last thing you encounter and therefore, it’s ideally the freshest in your mind as you leave, but still!

In closing: if you enjoy rock music and you get the chance to see them, DOOOOO IIITTTTTT.