Article and photos by Glenn Woodell
It’s not every show that you walk away being impressed with the opening band. But Red Sun Rising is a band to watch as they got things started for heavy hitters Shinedown and Godsmack. A relatively young band out of Akron, Ohio, with only two albums to their credit, they were a perfect match for the lineup and made up for their lack of popularity with their captivating stage show.
Let’s face it. Bass players are usually not known to be the one to watch on a stage. As one myself, we’re constantly trying to keep the connection between the drummer and the rhythm guitarist while trying to keep the audience’s feet stomping. But Ricky Miller was anything but static on the stage. The long neck on that bass came close to a few of his fellow bandmates a couple of times.
Naturally the guitar players are expected to be active. Try being active while keeping a smiling face. Eddie VanHalen was always able to do it. Enter Ryan Williams on lead guitar and lead smiles. I think he was having more fun than the audience.
Mike Protich on lead vocals worked both the stage, the mic, and the crowd and helped spread the word about the new genre of the band they are trying to promote. Rather than fall into an existing category, they refer to themselves as being in a genre that weaves like thread in fabric that crosses multiple genres. They use #WeAreThread to promote that idea and Mike had it prominently displayed along the bottom of his guitar for everyone to see.
Enter Shinedown and the pyrotechnics. After only four minutes into the show, the pyros started and continued until the end of the concert. During the second song, lead singer, Brent Smith, took time to provide thanks to those around him. He invited everyone in the audience to greet those around them and make new friends. He then thanked his support staff as he came to the edge of the stage, knelt down, and shook hands with all of the photographers and the support staff within reach in the pit.
Godsmack followed suit with the pyrotechnics and the thanks. At about a third of the way into the show, lead singer, Sully Erna, thanked the military as the band played snippets of Queen’s We Will Rock You, The Beastie Boys’ So Whatcha Want, Metallica’s Enter Sandman, Led Zeppelin’s The Ocean, and Rush’s Tom Sawyer. He exclaimed that there was nothing better than live music and asked all the audience to put away their cell phones and watch the show. Throughout the set, bassist Robbie Merrill, caught worn out drum sticks from Larkin and passed them out to selected audience members.
One of the highlights of the show was their classic drum battle as Shannon Larkin came forward on his rotating drum riser and started an amazing solo. Sully then joined him on a similar rotating drum riser as they played a synchronized solo.
For the show ending, Sully invited Shinedown lead guitarist, Zach Myers, to play guitar while he sat down (mostly) at a piano and played Elton John’s, Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting in its entirety.
This show had a lot of sweat, fire, drums, heavy guitar riffs, and appreciation to go around. From the opening act to the last song, this is a show not to be missed.
Red Sun Rising