The completely empty stage with only a black curtain across the back stood in stark contrast to the twenty tons of stainless steel and weaponry that made up supporting act Five Finger Death Punch’s setup. There was something about that empty stage, though that seemed to only build up the anticipation for headliners Godsmack; stark, empty, just waiting to be used. After a promo video for Sully Erna’s Avalon the house music started playing AC/DC’s For Those About to Rock which only got the crowd more pumped. Another video of rock on trial featuring the likes of Dee Snider, Jello Biafra and Ronnie James Dio only put them over the edge.
Finally, the curtain fell to reveal a blazing orange orb mid-stage which slowly turned to reveal Shannon Larkin sitting stoically behind his kit while the amps slowly levitated off the ground and the rest of the band took the stage.
Touring in support of their 2010 release, The Oracle, Godsmack wasted no time launching into the album’s first song, Cryin’ Like A Bitch to the crowd’s obvious pleasure. While shooting the first three songs I wasn’t watching the crowd but I sure as hell could hear them as they sang along to every word.
The wide-open stage set-up gave Tony Rombola (guitar) and Robbie Merrill (bass) room to roam but for the most part they kept things on the down-low. In contrast, Shannon Larkin was beating the snot out of his drums like he was taking out his frustrations after a really bad day; in my opinion he is one of the most dynamic drummers in rock music. Sully Erna’s vocals were spot on and the veins in his neck were bulging to the point where I expected his jugular to blow at any second.
All action, no talk, Godsmack plowed through hits from all of their albums but it was during Keep Away that the crowd (with one notable exception) was at its loudest while the whole band heaped guitar picks and drums sticks on the crowd. For Love-Hate-Sex-Pain, Sully finally put down his guitar (which stayed down for the rest of the show), freeing him to move around the stage. What he was doing I couldn’t tell you because I was transfixed to the large LED screen which was synchronized to the music and displayed images ranging the gamut of subject matter reflecting the song’s title. Already a bottom-heavy band, the floor of the Fox was vibrating to the intro of What If? as if one of those legendary Bay Area quakes was about open up and swallow us whole.
The sun-cocoon closed over Shannon’s kit, the amps raised a little further and two more drum kits rolled onto the stage. The time had come. To be honest, I’m normally not a fan of the drum solo with the exception of Neil Pert from Rush who somehow manages to make his percussive yet melodic at the same time. What Sully and Shannon had going was different but equally impressive in the both the synchronization required but also in their ability to engage the crowd in a medley of rock classics starting with AC/DC’s Back In Black and going right into some drum solo karaoke with Black Sabbath’s War Pigs (complete with bouncing ball lyrics on the big screen). All the while and without missing a beat, Sully was tossing sticks into the crowd, at one point playing with his last stick and waiting for Shannon to toss him another from the other side of the stage.
It wasn’t until the lead in to Whatever that Sully addressed the crowd for the first time, “you may not be the biggest crowd we’ve seen on this tour but you’re possibly the best.” That got the crowd going, but the biggest response of the night was when he offered congratulation on the San Francisco Giant’s World Series victory. But before getting the crowd to sing, Sully couldn’t help but to mention the “aroma” wafting from the crowd only to be met with a half-dozen joints being tossed on stage. I won’t say who, but a certain band member seemed the happiest he’d been all night.
I must admit that I mistakenly ignored The Oracle when it first came out but it is without a doubt a solid and diverse album worthy of purchase. I know I was not the only one pleased to get five songs this night.
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- Cryin’ Like A Bitch
- Straight Out of Line
- War & Peace
- The Enemy
- Keep Away
- What If?
- Drum Solo
- I Stand Alone
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