By Brandon “B-Mac” McCarthy, Photos by B-Mac and Matt “Rabit” Martinez Red Hare Images
When I first stepped into the new House of Blues in Anaheim, I was genuinely amazed with the craftsmanship seen in how they converted a movie theater into a fashionable music venue. The bands I first saw there were Korn and King’s Bounty. After that single performance, I knew I wanted to go back for the next big act that comes to town. The day after Easter, Matt Martinez and I had the pleasure of returning to see the popular band, Shinedown. It was the last date of their monstrous tour that they put together with the UK’s As Lions, and Minnesota’s own Cold Kingdom. Two of the groups were new to me, and I wanted to see what they can offer the rock ‘n’ roll world. Shinedown is a group I have been following since my college years. Seeing them live made me appreciate them even more. The night was filled with some insane, well received, and well crafted heavy metal.
Coming all the way from Minneapolis, Minn., Cold Kingdom graced us with their glorious hard rock performance. It was the first time they have been to California, and it was immediately apparent that they were ready to rock. Fronting the group was the enchanting songstress, Dani Engum. She has the voice of Lzzy Hale of Halestorm, and the stage presence of Alissa White-Gluz of Arch Enemy. Her melodic singing dazzled the audience as soon as she sang the first words to “Let It Burn.” The combined guitar works of Evan Ogaard and Zac Boyd was filled with raw fury. The solo Ogaard plays on “The Light” is full of passion and tenacity. Cold Kingdom performed some great tunes that reached the crowd’s hearts, especially with the fan-favorite “Crash Poet.” Minnesota has produced a fine hard rock band that belongs in the Los Angeles music scene, and is readily proving their being deserving of such. Cold Kingdom was clearly the right choice to kick off a concert They set the tempo for the whole night.
View complete Slideshow of Cold Kingdom Below:
Following Cold Kingdom was one of the most promising young acts in the alternative metal circuit, As Lions from London, England. When I first listened to their debut album, Selfish Age, I was blown away by their style of musicianship and songwriting. Singer Austin Dickinson has a certain magnetism when he is on stage. His powerful voice and rock star attitude wins the audience’s admiration right from the beginning of their set. The band had an assortment of mind-blowing songs from “White Flags” to “Deathless.” The song I enjoyed the most was “Bury My Dead,” because the lyrics left me emotionally charged. Guitarists Conor O’Keefe and Will Homer laid down some excellent riffs, while bassist Stefan Whiting and drummer Dave Fee performed some staggering collaborative grooves. It was amazing hearing all these songs played live. I see As Lions as a band full of talent and promise. The rock world better be ready for these guys.
View complete Slideshow of As Lions Below:
Jacksonville, Florida’s own Shinedown came to the stage. They were on a mission to increase the crowd’s already heightened pulse-rate with some astonishing metal music that would no doubt carry them through the rest of the night. When the band struck the first chord to “Devour,” the House of Blues went off their rockers with excitement. Vocalist Brent Smith blazed through the set list with his ear-piercing voice. I got into their performance as soon as they played my personal favorite, “Diamond Eyes (Boom-Lay Boom-Lay Boom).” Smith had a way of connecting with the fans, making all in attendance feel special and like they are part of his family. Guitarist Zach Meyer was mesmerizing on the ax. His riffs were so thunderous and vigorous. From “State Of My Head” to “I’ll Follow You,” Shinedown owned the venue. After hearing “Second Chance,” I remembered my days in college, playing this song over and over. Towards the end, Smith and Meyer performed an unplugged version of Lynyrd Skynyrd’s classic, “Simple Man.” It was so moving, there was not one dry eye in sight. They closed out the night with the ever popular, “Sound of Madness.”
View complete Slideshow of Shinedown Below:
It was another splendid evening at the House of Blues in Anaheim. Each band set out to conquer the stage with their astounding music, succeeding in their efforts. Hard rock and heavy metal never sounded so good. Cold Kingdom and As Lions are both a breath of fresh air for the rock world. With many veteran bands hanging up their instruments, it is reassuring to see new bands, able and willing to carry the torch for years to come. Shinedown proved that night why they are one of the best modern bands of our time. It was an energetic night, and further proof that the new House of Blues is one of the best concert halls in Southern California. To all the bands, I salute you. Horns up!!!