By Brandon “B-Mac” McCarthy
The weekend of October 11th has been hectic for me to say the least. For the 1st time in a long-ass time, I covered 3 shows on back-to-back-to-back days. On Friday, I got my power metal fix with DragonForce, then on Saturday, I headed to the Whisky for a dosage of Skid Row from legendary frontman Sebastian Bach. They were excellent shows any metalhead would be proud to attend, but on Sunday, October 11th, this show topped them all. Boston metal legends Godsmack went on the road with hard rock warriors Halestorm. I have never seen both of these tremendous acts before, so catching them both at once was special for me. Godsmack caught my attention when I bought the Rockin’ the Corps DVD, where they immediately got their hooks in me with “Awake.” For Halestorm, I was cruising YouTube looking for some new rock music videos, then I came across “Love Bites (So Do I),” and the rest is history. Co-headlining the When Legends Rise tour, they made a stop to Ontario, Calif., at the Toyota Arena. Rockaholic and I headed down there with our new friend Dillion (aka Raven). Stoner rock group Monster Truck opened for them, but I unfortunately missed them, though I am sure they did an amazing job. Time to get vicious or cry like a bitch!
After Monster Truck wrapped up their set, Halestorm moseyed onto the stage where frontwoman Lzzy Hale went right for the jugular with “Do Not Disturb.” One thing I can say about Lzzy is that she is both drop-dead gorgeous and ferocious. She can be snarling beast and a sweet angel at the same time with her mic and signature Gibson Explorer on hand, while also sporting tall red stilettos. While Lzzy blew us back with her sinister voice, her little drumming brother Arejay played razor-sharp beats and crashes. Lead guitarist Joe Hottinger blasted us with white-hot riffs and solos, turning up the heat with Lzzy. I knew just how good Hottinger was on record, but he is on a whole new level while playing live. Bassist Josh Smith kept the rock ‘n’ roll train rolling with his groovy bass licks. During their performance of “Amen,” Lzzy and Hottinger both went into this insane guitar battle where intense solos and riffs got the crowd going. After the guitar battle, Smith and Arejay got a chance to shine with their own solo piece that was done very nicely. When Arejay went off the rails, he thanked the crowd and brought out his X-Large drum sticks as a joke. Riding high off of 2018’s Vicious, Halestorm killed their set with sheer viciousness with songs like “Love Bites (So Do I),” “I Am the Fire,” “Freak Like Me,” “Amen,” “Black Vultures,” “I Get Off,” “Uncomfortable,” “Here’s to Us,” and “I Miss the Misery.” They were everything I knew they were and more. Halestorm came to party, and we partied hard with them.
Full Halestorm gallery below:
A black curtain stood tall with Godsmack’s logo on it. Soon enough, the curtain drops and drummer Shannon Larkin became a destructive tornado of beats he has always been known for. The rest of Godsmack followed suit and revved up our engines with “When Legends Rise.” Frontman and musical guru Sully Erna commands a huge presence when he steps in front of the microphone. His voice is like a stick of dynamite that explodes a powerful voice that fans flock to every time. His heavy riffs that he plays when on guitar are matched only by the awesome soloing swagger of Tony Rombola. Not known to be a flashy guitarist, Rombola cranks out guitar licks screeches tremendous power and aggressiveness, a true legend he is. Robbie Merrill was booming on the bass, giving us infectious alternative licks that has helped define Godsmack’s sound. The way he walks on the stage while rocks out on his Spector basses is fun to watch because he throws in a boogie in his step, getting down to the beats.
Godsmack threw a 1-2 punch combo with their heavy driven hard rock and metal style that knock us on our asses. What was really awesome to witness was the crowd’s participation when it came to singing the lyrics or taking Sully’s suggestions. When Sully was playing the beginning riff to “Something Different,” he had the house lights turned off and had the fans turn on the flashlights on their phones, lighting the stage. That was an awesome moment to be part of. A majority of their songs came from their newest record from 2018, When Legends Rise, and the crowd loved the new tunes like “Say My Name,” “Unforgettable,” “Under Your Scars,” “When Legends Rise,” and the newest classic “Bulletproof.” During “Under Your Scars,” Sully brought out a piano and got intimate with us. This ballad took Godsmack to new heights and the crowd was taken aback by it. After hearing the hard-crunching “Keep Away” came the event of the night, Batalla de los Tambores. Larkin and Sully duked it out on their own drum kits, with Sully adding some bongo flavor to the mix. I have heard of this segment and seen it online, but to observe it live was even better. Godsmack also gave us their classic hits that included “1000hp,” “Cryin’ Like a Bitch!!,” “Voodoo,” “Awake,” “Whatever,” and their own heavy version of the Beatles classic, “Come Together.” They ended the night with the ultra-popular, “I Stand Alone,” where we all screamed the chorus to the top of our lungs.
Full Godsmack gallery below:
This was arguably one of the best rock ‘n’ roll shows I have ever been to. The energy that was being delivered from the bands was off the charts. Godsmack was full of ear-piercing excitement while Halestorm took a huge bite into our chests and plunged their righteous hard rock dagger into our hearts. The Toyota Arena was jolted with a huge shot of heavy rock that will be talked about for a while now. To Godsmack and Halestorm, I salute you. Horns up!!!