The Carnival of Madness (We as Human, Sevendust, In This Moment, Skillet, Shinedown)
Live in Asbury Park 8/11/13
Review and Photos by Rob Acocella
The Carnival of Madness tour opened in Asbury Park NJ on August 11 at the famous Stone Pony. That particular tour date consisted of performances by We as Human, Sevendust, In This Moment, Skillet, and Shinedown.
Unfortunately, after arriving at the venue just a little late (NJ beach traffic on a nice day), but still with plenty of time to at least catch Sevendust's set as the second band, I realized from the parking lot that what I was hearing was "Angel's Son." Knowing that Sevendust usually puts that late in their set, I darted for the door only to catch the last 30 seconds of their final song by the time I made it through security. Apparently someone decided to start the concert way ahead of schedule.
After setting up some pretty elaborate set decorations, In This Moment took the stage. I'm not going to fake anything here, while I've long been aware of this band, I never really followed them. Not knowing any of the songs in particular, I can't give a critique of how much like the album they were or weren't. I will say this, though: The band sounded really solid and tight from the point of view of someone that hadn't heard any of the songs before, and Maria Brink and her synchronized slave dancers did a great job of provided creative visuals to go along with each song through their movements, props, and occasional costume changes. I can certainly appreciate the amount of work that must have gone into synchronizing the performance movements for each song and having to memorize an entire performance to repeat every night for weeks on the road. Overall they were entertaining to watch, between the smoke guns, the dancers, and the rebel-zombie-like stage costumes of the band against the pure white piles of skulls and fence gates set as a backdrop. For anyone that wants to know, it seems that the setlist from this show can be found HERE
The direct support slot was filled by Skillet. I'm again going to be blunt here, they did not jive well with me. The backing vocals done by drummer Jen Ledger sounded awful, similar to a young school child yelling or whining. The band's overall sound was so generic that I wasn't sure if I was at a Rock concert or walking through the local mall. On top of it all, vocalist John Cooper took every chance he could to insert biblical references or drop other Christian propaganda on the audience between songs which were about the same topics. I had not previously known that they were a Christian Rock band, but it became increasingly evident as the show went on. My personal opinion is that religion should be kept out of music, or at least Rock music. If you absolutely must put your religious views into music and lyrics, it should be done in a way that it is not completely obvious or preachey, which I don't feel they accomplished, and I don't feel was their goal to begin with. The reason is that music should be something everyone can relate to, and when you make the message of your music more exclusive, you start to leave people out and make it hard for them to digest. The band has an energetic stage presence, and I suppose if you're a fan of their music already then you would appreciate the stage show they put on, including a rising pillar system that would elevate 2 musicians at a time on either side of the stage. If you are a fan of Skillet, and want to see what they played that night, you can find the set list HERE
The show closed with an amazing performance by Shinedown which included fan favorites like "45," "Simple Man," "Devour," and "Second Chance." It was also the live premiere of "I'm Not Alright" which had previously not been performed live. Shinedown have long been known for their high-energy live shows and as always, they did not disappoint. Brent Smith's vocals were spot-on and with the extra help from Eric Bass and Zach Myers they nailed every note. It wouldn't be a Shinedown concert without some inspiring words from Brent, and he got the crowd really energized talking about how strong NJ was for making it through Superstorm Sandy and rebuilding the beaches, and how Rock and Roll is a way of life and not just a genre of music. I may be a bit biased as a fan, but I've never seen a Shinedown concert that I had anything bad to say about, and I'm happy to report that the trend is still continuing.