On Apocalyptica

In the spirit of catching up, also way back at the end of April, Brandon and I went to a concert … and, once again, a metal show. This time, however, it was a metal show of my choosing.

I discovered Apocalyptica back in college and knew them as the band that covered Metallica with cellos. I then discovered the song “Hope,” which I can still safely say is my favorite song, despite the fact that it’s instrumental. It’s just that amazing.

I saw them live ten years ago, back in September 2005. That show was at the Bluebird. It was small, intimate, sparsely attended … and beautifully powerful. Just four guys with cellos on chairs and simply amazing. I’ve talked about that show to Brandon probably since I’ve known him.

So, when I found out they were back in Denver almost by fluke – thanks Facebook for telling me which friends like the Ogden Theatre and that Apocalyptica is coming to the Ogden! – I told Brandon we had to find a way to go. The day of the show ended up being a super long day – I worked that morning, we got in a workout, we headed down to the Springs to witness a close friend’s civil ceremony (and went out to dinner with them after) … and then drove back up to Denver to the Ogden without even bothering to change.

Apocalyptica’s style has changed slightly over the years. They’ve gone from four cellos down to three and have added some drums and a lot of guest vocalists, but the music is still amazing.

It was a much more crowded show than the first time I saw them, and the nature of the music made it probably one of the most subdued metal shows I’ve been to, but the guys put on a great show (I would argue they’re better showmen now than they were ten years ago) and neither of us regretted the long day.

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Marquee.

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Backdrop with drums.

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Shinedown: West Coast Tour 2016

What, another Shinedown concert post? I know, I know … I feel like they’re the only band I go see.

In the post I wrote after the Saints and Sinners Ball, I commented, “I’ve seen this band three times … and I’ve essentially seen the same show three times. If the show I’m going to see of theirs in March (hopefully) is basically the same show again … I may not want to go see them anymore because I don’t want to spend my money on the same. exact. show. over and over again.”

Well, they came to Colorado Springs on March 13 and it so happened that both Brandon and I were around to see them. I decided to give them one more shot and see how it went. The show was part of a small West Coast run, which is probably why they came to the Springs as opposed to Denver.

I worked that morning, went for a run (oh, Ironman training …), realized that yes, I was getting sick (as was Brandon), but screw it, and headed down to the Springs early. We had high hopes of getting a dang guitar pick this time, so we wanted to get to the venue early in hopes of getting close to the stage.

We grabbed a (should have been) quick(er) dinner at Denny’s and then got to City Auditorium about 4:45 (doors opened at 6).

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The line, when we got there, was just around the corner. By the time the doors opened, it was well around the block. When we got into the building, we split up – Brandon stampeded the stage to get a spot and I high-tailed it toward the porta-potties.

This was successful. We were about three or four “rows” (as rows is a very fluid thing on the floor) back and next to a really nice couple who we chatted with to pass the time until the show started.

The opening act was the Virginmarys. They were … okay. Sounded a bit familiar despite never knowing about them before this, but when I heard the lead singer talk and realized he was British, it made sense. This is going to sound a bit crazy, but all British rock bands have a similar sound. It might be a chord here or there, but there’s teeny tiny little similarities, from these guys, to Oasis, to Blur, to whomever.

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I could tell this Shinedown show was going to be a bit different because there was no swath of fabric blocking the stage between sets like usual. Which really just meant we could see the roadies set stuff up, but you know.

The set list was also vastly different …

Unity
Fly From the Inside
Diamond Eyes (Boom-Lay-Boom-Lay-Boom)
If You Only Knew
Cyanide Sweet Tooth Suicide
The Crow & the Butterfly
Through the Ghost
Enemies
I’ll Follow You
Amaryllis
Cut the Cord
State of My Head
Second Chance
45 (acoustic snippet)
Simple Man (Lynyrd Skynyrd cover; acoustic)
Sound of Madness
(thanks to setlist.fm)

“Unity” was different as an opener, but I liked it – upbeat, happy … it set the tone for the rest of the show. “Cyanide Sweet Tooth Suicide” is something they haven’t played live in several years, so it was a nice treat to hear that. “Through the Ghost,” likewise, was amazing and I pretty much cried through the whole thing.

“Amaryllis” was played due to a Twitter request from a fan (who played it at his wedding); another song I cried throughout.

I was a little bummed once again that they didn’t play more off of “Threat to Survival,” but I really have no complaints. The guys interacted with the crowd the most out of any of the three previous shows I’d seen and it was the least scripted, as well, which I really loved. I felt like they actually cared about we, the fans, as opposed to some of the other shows of theirs.

And of course, my close-up spot afforded some pictures …

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Both Zach Myers and Eric Bass (pictured) had guitar picks on their mic stands and I loved the way the light reflected through them.

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(I think I like this one more for the cell phone in front of me …)

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So Brent Smith parted the crowd and hopped onto the floor to talk to the audience … and as a result, we moved up a row or two on the floor.

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For the “encore,” Zach came out in a Peyton Manning jersey. He’s a Titans fan, but is a general fan of Manning’s from his days at Tennessee.

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Ahh, lens flare …

Also of note:
– Brandon caught a water bottle tossed by Brent Smith – twice.
– WE FINALLY GOT OUR GUITAR PICKS!!!! We got two – one of Eric’s and one of Zach’s … and should have had at least one more. One came right near me; I turned on my phone flashlight to find it … and some guy next to me used my genius against me. Boo.

In closing: Shinedown’s music is amazing; we know that. They sound good live; we know that. But when the guys put out a personality during the show … they’re really hard to top.

Saints and Sinners Ball

Also known as Shinedown round three.

Way back on Halloween, Brandon and I went to go see Shinedown (double-headlining with Breaking Benjamin and alongside Nothingmore) at 1stBank Center in Broomfield, Colo. This was my third time seeing Shinedown and second time at 1stBank Center.

Let’s start off with the first two acts.

Nothingmore opened with the theme song to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and the band came out in costume … dressed up as the Turtles.

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Their music wasn’t necessarily my style, but they were good performers. Some bands that have been around for years (*cough*Uncle Kracker*cough* don’t have the stage presence that these guys did. Their drum stuff and some of their theatricality (like with this awesome creation:
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reminded Brandon a bit of Blue Man Group.

The night we saw them was their last night on the tour, so they took a giant selfie with the crowd at the end of their set.

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Next up was Breaking Benjamin, who also embraced the day and came out in Star Wars costumes.

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Brandon was really excited to see these guys and they did put on a great show. They threw out candy to the crowd. They grabbed a sign from an audience member (sign was for said member’s significant other serving overseas) and brought it up on stage to sign,
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giving a great shout out to our service men and women before playing “Unknown Soldier.”

Going on with the Star Wars theme, they did a great mash-up of the Imperial March and a few other covers – Schism, Smells Like Teen Spirit, and Walk. Probably my favorite musical moment of the show.

I forget which song they did it for, but they had all the house lights turn off and had all of us light up the arena with our lighters (that is, cell phone flashlights) to show how much light we can bring and it was fairly fantastic to see how much light it was.

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They ended up their set by grabbing a whole bunch of fans from the crowd and bringing them on stage to sing “The Diary of Jane,” and to have a chance to be on stage with their favorite band, which was super, super cool.

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Finally, Shinedown.

First, pictures:

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Opening.

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Barry Kerch with some killer make-up going on.

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So there was this stuffed Eeyore at Brent Smith’s feet and I’m not sure why …

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Zach Myers with some face paint.

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Brent Smith and Zach Myers.

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Near the end of the show.

Thoughts on the show:

The Good:
– Music was fantastic, as always.
– They also threw out candy into the crowd.
– They played “How Did You Love,” probably my favorite song off the new album.

The Not So Good:
– They really didn’t embrace the Halloween theme like the other bands did. Okay, so they tossed out candy, and Zach and Barry had some face paint on, but that’s it. A little disappointing.
– For it being the “Threat to Survival” tour, I expected way more songs from the new album, as opposed to … three. Come on now, guys.
– I’ve seen this band three times … and I’ve essentially seen the same show three times. If the show I’m going to see of theirs in March (hopefully) is basically the same show again … I may not want to go see them anymore because I don’t want to spend my money on the same. exact. show. over and over again.

On the plus side, Brandon was able to get one of Barry’s drumsticks (unfortunately it’s just plain; doesn’t have his name on it like the Papa Roach sticks we have) and I was able to somehow snag a Breaking Benjamin guitar pick at the end of the night. Woo!

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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