Carnival Of Madness Tour – Canandaigua, NY

Review By: Elle Tourjman | Photographs By: Nadine Swiger

Carnival Of Madness Tour kicked off the way anything with the words ‘carnival’ and ‘madness’ should, with loads of special effects and crazy crowds to match! We caught up with the tour in Canandaigua, New York. Unfortunately, we hit a slight snag at the ticket booth so we missed the opening band, 10 Years. We smoothed things out in just time to see part of the performance of one of my favorite bands, Sevendust. Singer Lajon was animated as always, smiling and doing sexy little booty dances around the stage. Lajon shouted to the eager crowd, “We are Sevendust. You can love us, you can hate us but you sure can’t ignore us! Sevendust has arrived! Say it!” I’m always sad when Sevendust finishes up their set. I feel like, “That’s it? Damn it’s over so fast!” I know I’m probably just being greedy. Seeing these talented musicains play with such high-spirited energy I can’t help but wish that it would never end.

Puddle Of Mudd had their drummer, Ryan Yerdon, come onto the stage first, followed by guitarist Paul Philips, bassist Damien Starkey and finally, vocalist Wes Scantlin. They started out with their hit, “Control” while the audience sang and danced along to the juicy lyrics. By this point the arena looked pretty full. It soon became apparent that these southern boys have quite the following in New York. Paul and Damien did a few twirl dances around the stage for their first song. It was pretty entertaining and quite fun to watch. I particularly enjoyed Yerdon’s dexterity with the percussion and drumming. His hands and feet were flying while he kept a perfectly timed beat. The whole drummer’s stand was visibly shaking while he enthusiastically pounded out the intense and catchy beats. All the band members of Puddle Of Mudd did extremely well and were spot on, with the exception of Scantlin, who seemed a little off during the set. At one point during a song he took the mic and was swinging it around like a lasso competition at a rodeo. He almost hit Starkey in the head with it several times. Damien ducked, dodged and finally just moved the hell out of the way before the mic was put down again. Other songs in POM’s setlist included my favorite, “Spaceship”, “Blurry”, “Stoned”, “Psycho” a cover for “T.N.T” and “She Hates Me”, which had everyone screaming along. The highlights of the set were definitely the interaction and silly antics between Starkey and Philips, Yerdon’s impressive and much improved drumming skills and Scantlin’s lasso stunt.

Chevelle was up next. I enjoyed the musical versatility of this band, with Pete Loeffler doing lead vocals and guitar, his brother Sam Loeffler on drums and Dean Bernardini on bass and backing vocals. Chevelle is definitely one of those bands that are very easy on the eyes. They may look like a pretty boy band but don’t let their image fool you for one second. As soon as Pete starts into “Forfeit” you can feel the burning intensity behind the lyrics. Its not just another song to him. Where he whispers the lyrics at certain parts on the album, he screams during the live performance, which I liked so much better.  Several times, his screams gave me chills and I have heard plenty of screaming vocals before. It might not be as radio friendly but who cares? It sounded sick and made me rethink my pre-conceived notions about Chevelle. I wish they could be that forceful on their albums. While you hear it a little on the songs “Jars” and “The Clincher” its nothing like seeing it live. In fact, it doesn’t even come close. Its much more hardcore and a side of Chevelle I hope to see more of in the future.

Shinedown was the last performance of the night, headlining the tour. They opened with various, bizarre imagery playing on a huge LED screen above the stage while they started the first song of their set, “Sound Of Madness” from behind a backlit white curtain. The fans ate it up, reveling in the intentional theatrics. It was a cool way to kick off their set and I enjoyed the visual eye-candy of contrast every bit as much as the audience. Brent Smith came out in a black, ringmaster style of outfit, complete with a top hat and red and black striped cane. Behind him on the back wall of the stage were pieces of screen with more images flashing across them and behind that was a huge, blood red velvet curtain that made me think there was a vampire somewhere back there. Now that would be madness!

In addition to the screens there were at least four or five floodlights that were constantly changing the color of the giant curtain behind the spliced LED screens, spotlights, smoke, mirrors and more! It was visually stunning with Brent pacing up and down the stage in his carnival costume while he belted out the words to “Devour”. He was in typical Rockstar persona with his dark shades, even though it was after 9 pm and raining heavily outside. “This is the moment of rebirth!” he yelled to the crowd and got the entire arena of thousands clapping along to “I Dare You” with their hands in the air. It was quite a spectacle. At one point he said “You know what? I kind of feel like an orgasmic Willy Wonka!” I thought that was hysterical and so, too, did he as he said it with a huge grin on his face. Smith is certainly a good showman and managed to get the thousands of fans jumping to his tune, like the pied piper of a twisted carnival of madness. I love watching the interaction onstage between musicians, once I could tear my eyes away from everything else that was going on. Zach Myers and Eric Bass were playing off each other, jumping back and forth and switching places to work the whole stage. I like the way they included drummer Barry Kerch by leaping up the steps to his drum set several times to really listen in and play along as a group.

Brent gave an introduction to a song they wrote for Sylvester Stallone’s new movie, “The Expendables.”  The name of the song is called “Diamond Eyes.” They cut all lights in the building for it, with only the light from a strobe, which gave off a diamond starlight effect for the whole arena, lending its ambience to the music. I really enjoyed the song, even without the special effects. Smoke rolled around onstage and I felt like I was somewhere magical up until the last few strains of the song. Speaking of magical, they also performed “Her Name Is Alice” from the soundtrack for “Alice In Wonderland”. They closed the night with “Son Of Sam”. I was impressed with each of the bands that performed that day and only wish I had the chance to see them again before the tour ends. The only thing they may have done better would be to add a few clowns here and there and make them pop out at the crowd at random moments. Aside from that, it was perfect!



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