Fall had a nice introduction and warm welcome in Kansas City when Godsmack, Sevendust, and Sidewise rolled into Kansas City on September 29th 2015. The highly-anticipated “1000 HP” tour was at its next stop playing the one and only Midland Theater downtown. This North American tour started gaining attention in early July. Shortly after the tours announcement Kansas City’s own Sidewise was picked up to open for the co headliners. It was early in the evening on Tuesday when the masses started to flock The Midland Theater and it was apparent early on these fans were serious about seeing some of their favorite bands in action. Before I get into the review I have to point one thing out. The Midland Theatre is absolutely beautiful. The building itself is history and when you first walk through the box office you can immediately feel the vibe the venue sets off. The auditorium is filled with sculpture, various art, and superb architecture. The atmosphere and beauty of the place adds to the rock ambiance in the air. This simple fact may have overshadowed that the “1000 HP” tour is mainly an arena show. In all its entirety the outlook on the night seemed it would not fall short of my positive expectations.
Who better to crank up the positive vibe than Photos from the Pit’s good friends, Sidewise? As always Nico Manesh on the mic, Matt Wilkinson on guitar and vocals, Jason dean on the Drums, and Sean Thibodeaux on guitar and backup vocals, and DJ Klinge the monster on the bass. Their electric set kicked off with a hard-hitting song to warm up the crowd. From what I could observe about 30% of the audience was engaged to the rocking performance that was taking place, at first. By the end of their fourth out of five song set Sidewise had turned 95% of the crowd up to full bore. Sidewise ended their short explosive set with Nine Inch Nails’s “Head like a Hole.” This is my third time reviewing sidewise and they just keep getting better. Shout out to Sean Thibodeaux who seems to have put a lot of work into his backup vocals. I apologize if I just haven’t noticed the talent before, great freaking job! Once again after witnessing one of Sidewise’s set my curiosity consumed me and although I witnessed them captivate the crowd I had to ask people what they thought after the set. Megan and her rad dad thoroughly enjoyed sidewise and some of the younger fans in the crowd even started to rave about the Kansas City fave. Their almost sold out merch booth and busy meet and greet proved these guys haven’t lose any momentum in their road to fame.
It wasn’t long between sets before Sevendust took reign of the Kansas City crowd and the Midland Theatre, in front of one of the coolest backdrops I have ever seen (try to catch a glimpse in the photo’s below). The backdrop is a larger image of the cover on their new album “Kill the Flaw” set to release October 2nd 2015. Heavy hitting rock band Sevendust consists of LJ Witherspoon on the vocals. Morgan Rose rocking the sticks, Clint Lowery on lead guitar alongside John Connolly on guitar, and Vince Hornsby on bass. Right off the bat I noticed LJ sporting a Kansas City hat and I wondered if it was special to the show. To my surprise after their second song “Driven”, LJ announced Kansas City as his new home and Sevendust’s new headquarters. Further proving Kansas City is hot right now and really a cool place to be. Additionally from the get-go I noticed that Sevendust was on fire, it might have been the fact that LJ led the band and commanded the crowd like a rock demi-god. Their fourth song “Praise” really started to amplify the energy in the venue. It also was simultaneously the moment when the crowd really started to let loose and enjoy the show. That pretty much means it was the point when pot smoke started to roll out of the crowd. LJ gave word of Sevendust’s new album at this point, “Kill the Flaw”. As I mentioned earlier it’s set to release on October 2nd 2015 and is highly anticipated by Sevendust fans nationwide. Be sure to catch a preview of the album on their website. Definitely worth your time to check out one of the new tracks. I can’t garnish the truth though through all the wonderful energy in the atmosphere I notice a lot of rad Dads and Moms with their kids. It melts what’s left of my heart when I see parents exposing their young to rock and roll and all its greatness. Sevendust hits “Shine” and “Decay” were executed on stage perfectly. It almost seemed supernatural how well LJ was leading Sevendust’s explosive set. Then it became apparent why. Earlier in the set I noticed children side stage, it was the families of Sevendust members and I couldn’t have been more ecstatic to see these guys rock their asses off for their families. Sevendust ended with a hit off their new track “Thank You” from their new album “Kill the Flaw.” LJ and another member even went as far as pulling their kids on stage to jam right alongside them. A perfect ending to an almost perfect set.
The progress of the show was it at an all time high after Sevendust, and Godsmack was getting ready to take stage. At this point the show took somewhat of a lul. The assembly of the downsized set took a considerable amount of time on top of camera and mic checks. After the intermission came something I don’t think anyone expected. On the center screen came a pretty long video of what seemed to be set “backstage” which was obviously pre-recorded. The video included two eccentric fans wielding a selfie steak and some ridiculous outfits. The video mocked and detailed their attempt at getting backstage to meet Godsmack. It wasn’t something that I’d expect from the rock icons but I digress. It was somewhat laughable when the video ended with the fans from the video running on stage and then they actually ran across the stage at the Midland. After this curveball another video preceded it which added to the crowd’s anticipation and slight aggravation as their buzz wore off before Godsmack. The second video to precede the first was a montage of the band to the tune “Shipping off to Boston” by Dropkick Murphys. I’m not lying though this tickled my jimmies a little and made up for the long break. As you already know Godsmack consists of Sully Erna on guitar and vocals, Shannon Larkin with the percussion, Tony Rombola on lead guitar, Robbie Merrill with the bass, Tommy Stewart on percussion duex, and Lee Richards on guitar duex. The set opened with Awake, Realign, and one of the new singles 1000 HP. The crowd loved it. Which proves Godsmack is more than just their radio hits. I love the new look and Godsmack was really tuning into their roots on this tour. A Godsmack show couldn’t be without their amazing drum battle and drum solo and oh my lord was this something to experience. Low lights, high energy, and lots of rock coursing through the Midland’s veins at this point in the show. I have no doubt in my mind they completely killed the rest of their set. Due to my day job I had to depart shortly after and was sad considering how great things were going that evening. We did catch a glimpse of the set list though and it looked like Godsmack ended on “Smells Like Teen Spirit” by Nirvana. What a perfect way to part with Kansas City and into great show at the Midland.
The crowd was in, I was in, and everyone seemed as though they enjoyed their warm welcome to fall. Godsmack, Sevendust, and Sidewise did not disappoint one bit and I couldn’t have been happier. Also great to welcome Sevendust as Kansas Citians now. Great things are in store for all these bands and I can’t wait to see them next time.
Review by Kyle Scranton
Photos by Josh Chaikin