May 28, 2015 Godsmack pound Wellmont Theater Montclair, NJ 5-12-15 w/ Hellyeah & Within Reason
Celebrating two decades since their inception, Massachusetts’ own Godsmack finally emerged in 2014 after a four year hiatus to remind fans what real Hard Rock sounds like. In fact, the Bostonians hit the ground running with their sixth and newest album, 1000HP, released August 5, 2014 via Republic Records and debuting at #3 on the Billboard 200 charts. To celebrate the release, founder, frontman, and songwriter Sully Erna, guitarist Tony Rombola, bassist Robbie Merrill and drummer Shannon Larkin made their way across the USA in 2014 playing festivals, including headlining Rockstar Energy Uproar Festival. After three consecutive #1 albums – Faceless (2003), IV (2006), and The Oracle (2010) – expectations were high and the pressure was on for the band to produce something amazing, and their most recent Spring 2015, twenty-one date tour, with shows featuring a big dose of 1000HP, have proven that these New Englanders still know how to rock. Joined by everyone from Papa Roach to In This Moment during this string of shows, they stopped at the Wellmont Theatre in Montclair, New Jersey on Tuesday May 12th with Hellyeah and Within Reason to bring their iconic Metal growl back to the East Coast.
The show opened up with Alabama Rock band Within Reason glowing under a stage of deep, blue light. With Chris Dow on vocals, David Koonce on bass, Griffin Zarbough on drums, and Jordan Foster on guitar, Within Reason formed in 2005 and have never looked back. The 2007 BAMA Music Award winners’ music may sound familiar to some, as they had two songs featured on the TV series One Tree Hill – “Favorite Sin” and “Let It Out” (Cycle A Smile 2006). The band won Microsoft’s Gig Of A Lifetime contest and had their song “We’ll Have It All” (After the Crawl 2012) in the debut of the Microsoft Surface tablet ad played during the Grammy’s. This night in May, these good ol’ boys came out strong and gave it their all. The entire band was full of energy, with Zarbough’s Power Rock drumming sending tremors across the venue as Dow’s clean vocals and Foster’s surprisingly strong backup vocals pulled everything together. Reminiscent of bands like Nickelback and Hinder, Within Reason played a good mixture of tunes, even tossing in a ballad. Although the crowd was unsure of these relative newcomers at first, by the end of the set, they were enamored by the band, rocking along to each song. The band played only one more show with Godsmack before taking off with Black Stone Cherry for a few dates, and then continuing on with Buckcherry for a total of nine shows, wrapping things up June 13th at the Newport Music Hall in Columbus, Ohio. Check them out for a night of good, clean Rock-n-Roll.
Next up was American Heavy Metal supergroup Hellyeah. The talent was immediately obvious when Mudvayne’s lead vocalist Chad Gray, Nothingface’s guitarist Tom Maxwell, Pantera’s drummer Vinnie Paul and Bloodsimple’s bassist Kyle Sanders hit the stage. Filling the Wellmont with an immediate, tremendous energy, Hellyeah kicked off the set with “War In Me” and continued with Sanders spitting a mouthful of blood into Gray’s face as they started “Sangre por Sangre (Blood for Blood).” Above the band on a riser, Paul played the kit like it was an extension of his own body as Gray bellowed into the mic, “The amazing thing about life is that it allows you to make mistakes and then you learn from them… and then you never do that shit again!” Never short on appreciation, the band gave many thanks that night: to the fans, to the tour, to all the kids that love Metal and will love Metal in the future. Among other songs such as “Demons in the Dirt,” “Moth,” “You Wouldn’t Know,” “Drink, Drank, Drunk” and “Say When,” the boys covered every inch of the stage, sharing the spotlight and just having a great time. Hellyeah have now completed the North American leg of the Blood For Blood tour celebrating their newest album, Blood for Blood, released June 10, 2014 via Eleven Seven Records. Perhaps their most cohesive and complete album to date, their next adventure now takes them to Europe and the UK before crossing the pond back to the US and finishing up in Perth, Australia on August 31st. With a band this full of talent, one would be remiss to skip out on the chance to see them live.
By the time Godsmack hit the stage, the venue was packed with heaving, sweaty bodies crammed up against the barricades. Dressed in a simple, faded black t-shirt, cargo shorts, bandana, and Converse, Erna opened the set with the title song from their newest album, his voice a snarling growl that reminds one of the infamous James Hetfield. Meanwhile, drummer Larkin put on a phenomenal, streamlined show to the packed house, with energy and hits that rattled the very stage the band walked on. Announcing that the second song of the night, “Cryin’ Like A Bitch,” was a pre-Memorial Day dedication to the troops, Godsmack rocked the house with their churning, booming Hard Rock. They played other favorites such as “What’s Next?” “Straight Out Of Line,” “Awake,” and “Mistakes” to the delight of fans. With a videographer shooting the crowd reaction from the stage, Erna sang the first few notes of “Something Different” but left the rest open for the crowd to see if they could finish, implying that this video shoot may be included in their upcoming documentary.
Giving the center stage over to Larkin for a drum solo while throwing water bottles out into the audience, Erna then gave the audience another chance with the last note of “Keep Away,” which they sung perfectly. Already a set full of highlights, an amped up level of excitement came during the performance of “Voodoo,” something that needs to be seen to be believed. One of the tracks that first introduced audience’s to the darker side of Godsmack’s sound, the rendition was nothing less than perfect, setting an undeniably entrancing atmosphere. In the middle of “Whatever,” Erna stopped to announce that it was time for “Have A Cocktail (Beer) With Godsmack,” where he threw about ten cups into the audience, and all but three were caught by ecstatic fans. Closing the set with “Moon Baby,” spirits were high, but as the drumming started for the encore, the stage manager came out and announced that unfortunately the show would be ended unexpectedly early. Later, it was announced by the band that Erna had come off the stage after the main set complaining of dizziness and shortness of breath, and the decision was made to have him checked over by medical personnel in lieu of the night’s encore. Erna had recently gotten over a virus that had compounded the situation, but after an examination, he was thankfully alright and cleared to continue the tour in Rochester, New York.
While Godsmack’s set may have been abruptly cut short, there was plenty of Rock already sustained to make it one evening fans will not forget. The band continues to prove why they are still heavy-weight champions of Hard Rock and put on one of the best live shows in the business. The tour’s run did continue until the last show at Rocklahoma in Pryor, Oklahoma on May 22nd. Now the band turn their attention overseas for the month of June to perform in some cities they have never been. For any Bostonians out there, in honor of the storied career the band has attained, Mayor Marty Walsh has declared August 6th as Godsmack Day in Beantown, a day sure to be full of celebration.