The annual Carnival of Madness tour came to The Stone Pony Summerstage this past Sunday in Asbury Park. It ended up being an absolutely gorgeous day at the Jersey shore for some hard rock music.
The tour features a couple favorites of mine, and as I made my way to the boardwalk I heard one of them, Sevendust, start playing. I ran to the photo pit and made it in time to shoot a couple of their songs. True to form, they put on a hell of a show which got the crowd completely hyped for what was yet to come. The only complaint I had personally is that 7D took the stage so early. I feel like they deserved a higher billing, but they certainly got the crowd in the doors early.
After Sevendust came In This Moment and Skillet. I have covered both bands before and they are really different from each other. Female fronted In This Moment brings a lot of theater to their live shows. Costume changes, fake blood, and a couple half naked girls abound. While Skillet just brings a great hard rock show and some talk about Jesus. They are an obvious Christian band which initially sounds like a weird choice for this tour. But when they start playing music, it's all rock and roll.
There are two other things I want to mention about Skillet. First, they put on a fantastic show. Live violin and cello doesn't seem like something that would work here, but it does beautifully. They also had two towers that rose probably 40 feet in the air, and various band members would play while these rose into the sky. The other thing is, during their set there was an 8 year old boy loving every second of it, singing every word. A couple VIPs brought him to the side of the stage so he could have the best day ever. But as Skillet left the stage, one of the crew brought them all over to sign his hat and drum stick, and they were all beyond gracious. It is always nice to see that.
Shinedown closed out the night, and did so fantastically. I have always been impressed with singer Brent Smith's range, and Sunday night was no different. Last time I saw them headline the Carnival there was a bit more theatrics, but on this night they just played. And played so well. Smith is the new face of the Insanity commercials and he made the most of his new svelte frame- jacket opened, rock star in full effect.
Smith is a fantastic frontman and the band always sounds fantastic. The set list was filled with hits and sing alongs: Devour, The Crow and Butterfly, Enemies, Diamond Eyes, If You Only Knew and others. Of course the quiet 45 was beautiful- I will never get tired of hearing so many voices singing together. They also included the Simple Man cover which has become a staple of their shows.
In This Moment
Asbury Park was one of the towns slammed in last year's storm. It was mentioned a couple of times throughout the night- how strong NJ is as a state. Nights spent on the beach listening to great music, that is what summer is about. On Sunday night, memories were made.