When the announcement came through that Shinedown would be playing House of Blues Orlando for two days on December 27th and 28th, the Orlando fans jumped at the chance to get tickets, especially those who bought the two-day ticket. The demand was so high to see them that the band decided to add a third date on December 29th. House of Blues has had bands booked for two days back to back, but never for three. And to see Shinedown in a very intimate setting on the House of Blues stage is hard for any fan to pass up, including me. I was fortunate to receive credentials to cover all three sold-out shows.
The multi-platinum album selling Shinedown out of Jacksonville FL formed in 2001 and released their first studio album ‘Leave a Whisper’ in 2003. With singles of “Fly From The Inside”, “45”, “Burning Bright” and a cover of Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Simple Man”, the album was certified Platinum and each of the singles reached the Top 5 on Billboard’s Mainstream Rock charts. And this was just the start of their illustrious career. Since that time they released 5 additional studio albums with their latest ‘Attention Attention’ being released on May 4, 2018. The album simultaneously hit #1 on both Billboard’s Alternative, Top Rock, and Hard Rock Charts and debuted at #5 on the Billboard 200. Their single “Devil” from ‘Attention Attention’ hit #1 on Billboard’s Mainstream Rock Chart and became the band’s 12th #1 single. With over 10 million albums sold, 10 million singles sold, 11 Platinum and Gold singles, and 4 Platinum and Gold albums, it’s easy to see the demand for fans to see them live.
When I got to House of Blues Orlando the line ran all the way around the venue and even further back. The majority of my media friends were also in attendance along with members from Orlando’s rock station 101.1 WJRR, who was sponsoring the show that night. The sold-out crowd was packed in tightly and anxious for the show to get going. Things were running slightly behind schedule that night and they didn’t want to start the show until everyone was inside the venue. Taco Bob, one of the morning hosts from 101.1 WJRR, came out briefly to thank the crowd from coming out and to hype up the crowd for Shinedown. When the curtains got pulled back, the crowd erupted. One by one, Barry Kerch (drums), Eric Bass (bass), Zach Myers (guitar), and finally Brent Smith (vocals) made their way to the stage all in white t-shirts and black pants.
Shinedown only hinted that these shows would be something different and unique. I know those of us in media speculated for months over what the band could be planning. What they delivered this night is not what I certainly expected and ended up being something amazing and special. The band’s first part of the set was performing their third album, ‘The Sound of Madness’ from cover to cover in order. Opening up with the heavy and fast-paced “Devour” (a personal favorite of mine) had the crowd bouncing and rock fast. Zach was dancing and jamming hard all over the stage, literally. The stage was bare with the exceptions of a keyboard, mic stands, and the drum riser. Following straight into the title track “The Sound of Madness” showed Barry really getting into the song, standing up at times and singing along with Brent. Eric was also playing with passion, looking quite focused and determined. Brent though was having fun with the fans and the photographers during his vocals, pushing hard, and gesturing often for the crowd to get nuts.
Playing the entire album from front to back was something they had never done, so it was a unique experience for the crowd and media that night. And it was great to hear some of these brilliant singles “Second Chance”, “If You Only Knew”, and “The Crow & The Butterfly” live again. But, I loved getting to hear songs you rarely hear live like “Cyandine Sweet Tooth Suicide” (another personal favorite), “Breaking Inside”, and “Sin With a Grin”. The band walked off stage thanking the crowd after they were done with the album. In a few moments, they came back out to perform an entire second set of songs.
They kicked off the second set with the #1 “Devil” from ‘Attention Attention’, which the crowd loved. And the group of us in media who stuck together to watch the show after photographing were definitely singing along with the rest of the crowd. They followed up with “Diamond Eyes” (another favorite of mine) which appeared on the Deluxe reissue of ‘The Sound of Madness’ and also used in the movie The Expendables. And the crowd was singing along loudly for this one. But the singing never stopped as they followed with “Cut the Cord” from their 2015 album ‘Threat to Survival’. The band moved into the newest single from ‘Attention Attention’ titled “Get Up” and then “Enemies” from the 2012 album ‘Amaryllis’. Shinedown moved into acoustic mode first performing “Amaryllis”, the title track from the 2012 album.
Before they continued, Brent took a moment to truly address the crowd thanking them for their support and thanking 101.1 WJRR for their support. Brent explained to the crowd the story of when ‘Leave a Whisper’ was released how no one wanted to help provide support. They couldn’t get onto tours, no wanted to interview them, they couldn’t get onto covers of magazines and weren’t getting any radio play either. He joked it was because they were all too ugly to put in front of people. But, 101.1 WJRR in Orlando, FL was the first national radio station to play Shinedown on the air and how thankful they’ve been to the station for supporting them from their start and ever since. They then went into playing “Simple Man” from the Deluxe reissue of ‘Leave a Whisper’, which had the whole crowd once again singing along. And before they wrapped up their final song, Brent had the crowd lock arms with each other, and when he counted to 3 to have them all jump up and down as they played. When he said 3, House of Blues was shaking with all the people jumping. It was an amazing sight to see as Shinedown wrapped up with “Brilliant” from ‘Attention Attention’.
The first night of Shinedown was definitely something special to witness and experience. An entire playthrough of an album, some great single selections, and the always amazing live experience Shinedown provides. The one thing that shows how amazing this band is was how simple they kept the stage. There were no fancy backdrops, lighting rigs, gimmicks, and such. It was just them and their music and that was all they needed. I was glad to be able to experience it and very much looking forward to the next two evenings.