A brisk spring evening at the Total Mortgage Arena in Bridgeport, CT, would soon bring a Shinedown rock ‘n’ roll show for the ages. This 10,000-capacity arena is rarely a host to concerts, let alone a large-scale rock concert like this one. Needless to say, it was a sold-out show, with every single seat filled. Fans of all ages, young to old, lined the entire city block repping their favourite ’00s Alternative Metal merch, ready to bang their heads with fists in the air.
Total Mortgage Arena in Bridgeport, CT – 7 April 2023
Words and Photography: Shannon Wilk
Currently setting out on the first few dates of this leg of the Planet Zero World Tour, Metal pioneers Shinedown are lighting fires on stages across the states. As the huge stage screens played a highlight reel of moments from the band’s recent tour, the crowd roared, excited to rock out and forget about everything else.
The Planet Zero logo appeared, the screens split, and smoke billowed out as four silhouetted figures began walking onto the stage. Guitarist Zach Myers gets on his mic singing, “Boom-Lay Boom-Lay Boom!”, fireworks shoot up, and we’re off to the races for Shinedown’s headlining set.
“I… Can’t… Hear… You…” remarks vocalist Brent Smith with an eerie tone. The stage is enveloped by red lights, and red fireworks explode above the stage as the band kicks into their first new song of the night, Dead Don’t Die.
The group goes back to their 2012 album, Amaryllis, for the next three songs; I’ll Follow You, Bully, and Unity. A piano descends onto the stage, and bassist Eric Bass takes a seat in front of it and begins playing I’ll Follow You. Myers hops up on the top of the piano and performs the song’s beautifully written solo from the perch.
“Before we go any further, we need to take care of something,” says Smith, “turn to your neighbour, shake each other’s hands, give each other high fives, tell each other how nice it is that you’re at this show.”
After a slower song, Shinedown takes it up a notch with Bully. Drummer Barry Kerch whips his long dreads around as he bangs on his kit, intro-ing If Only You Knew. Bass jumps around in circles in the centre of the stage as frontman Smith sings the first verse of State Of My Head.
Light beams shoot up from under the stage as the band powers through their song Enemies. Taking it down for a slow song again, but this time it’s a new tune, A Symptom Of Being Human. The piano descends once again, Myers and Bass sling on acoustic guitars, and Smith requests that the crowd puts up lighters and flashlights through the song. “All hands in the sky, make a fist, raise ’em up, HOLD!” says Brent Smith as Kerch begins pounding the snare and kick drums to start the Sound Of Madness.
Now it was time for the title track of the band’s latest album, Planet Zero. Heavy and anthemic in nature, the song instantly got the audience moving. While Planet Zero got the crowd moving, 45 got the audience singing their hearts out.
Next up was Devil, from Shinedown’s 2018 release. “It’s about to get heavy,” sings Smith, and fire explodes out from all over the stage. Now it was time for the band’s biggest hit, Second Chance. Bassist Eric Bass and guitarist Zach Myers take the stage alone for a performance of Oasis’ Don’t Look Back In Anger.
As the rest of the band joins them back on the stage again, the piano comes down once more. The group performs parts of two slower songs; Daylight and Get Up. Brent Smith lays on top of the piano, drummer Barry Kerch sits his red solo cup atop the instrument and leans on the edge of the piano, Zach Myers plays his acoustic while facing his bandmates, and bassist Eric Bass plays the keys.
This segment of the show portrayed the more human side of the band. It was as if the sold-out crowd was just looking in on them in their living room, playing music together. “For Gary [Rossington] and for all of Lynyrd Skynyrd, way above,” says Smith, looking up as Myers begins strumming the chords to Simple Man. The crowd certainly made themselves known, singing this classic song with all they had.
For two more songs, the entire band takes the stage again. “I can hear you out there. You’re saying, ‘We came out on a Friday night, and they’re not gonna play it,'” remarks the singer. “Who said we’re not gonna play it!” The intro track to Cut The Cord begins, and the room fills with cheers and people singing.
With seven studio albums out and over two decades as a band, Shinedown has not lost a beat. In fact, they’ve matured and grown leaps and bounds since their formation in Florida in 2001.
Planet Zero is available from https://shinedown.lnk.to/planetzero.