One More For The Road: Shine Down, Three Days Grace & POD Live

Moline, IL, USA; February 1, 2013

by Paul Hanson

It was winter – cold and a little windy – in Moline, IL, on Friday, February 1st, 2013, which meant going to a rock concert with hard rock's hottest bands, Shine Down and Three Days Grace, was a fantastic way to spend the evening. After hearing from Joe Winters, Chief Meteorologist at KCRG-TV9 that it didn't look like the weather would turn into a blizzard, I began the journey to Moline.

pod_300Opening band POD took the stage first and played with a lot of confidence. They are a Christian band but did not preach anything but rock ‘n’ roll. The crowd reacted favorably to songs that have been played on the radio. They began their set with their latest single "Lost In Forever" and included "Youth Of The Nation" around the middle of their performance. They ended their set with my personal favorite, "Alive." As the opening act, they were given the smallest stage and didn't have a lot of room to move around. The band earned points with the crowd when vocalist Sonny Sandoval jumped down from the stage into the space between the stage and the crowd gate and proceeded to stand on the barrier and sing. Bassist Traa Daniels and drummer Wuv Bernardo provided a solid foundation, while guitarist Marcos Curiel laid out thick riffs. They were a better band than I expected, with a lot of energy. I was impressed. The group ended their set with a brief cover of Sublime's "What I Got," which was executed to the satisfaction of the crowd in the arena.

After a brief set change, Three Days Grace took the stage. This is a co-headlining tour and the band's first concert with new vocalist Matt Walst. He replaces Adam Gontier, who left the band after being in it for 20 years. Walst is not new to performing, as he was playing in My Darkest Days (known for their single "Porn Star Dancing") until he was tapped by his brother Brad (Three Days Grace's bassist) to join Three Days Grace. Having seen his first gig in front of thousands of people, I accept Matt Walst as the band's new vocalist. I am not sure if he was trying to make "Chalk Outline" his own song, but he added his personal texture to the chorus, hitting a note even higher than Gontier sang. It made the song his and since this was the set opener, it set the tone for the rest of the night.

Three Days Grace played a long set, capturing all of the songs that get played on the radio. After "Chalk Outline," they jumped into "Just Like You." (On a side note, there's something not quite right about the band. They look like they all need a hairstylist; every member has a truly bad haircut, especially bassist Brad Walst.)

Musically, their performance and their showmanship was better than I expected, though guitarist Barry Stock does need to move around more often instead of planting his feet together and doing an odd swivel with his upper body. The band had fire shoot up in the air at different points in the show, but it was never over the top. "Long Way Home" got a warm reaction from the crowd as did "Home."

three_300At one point, Sanderson launched into a duet with keyboardist / backup vocalist Dani Rosenoer. He started playing with timpani mallets on his cymbals before moving into a pulsating rhythm on the toms. Then, after throwing away his timpani mallets, he gave his drums the beating of a lifetime. The material Three Days Grace play is never going to rival the musical intricacies of Rush or Dream Theater or Yes – that's not their gig. Sanderson plays ambidextrously, alternately playing the beat with his right hand or left hand. His drum solo included playing a pattern with his hands on the snare and then duplicating that pattern with his bass drum. I liked what I heard.

Perhaps the highlight of the set was when they launched into "I Hate Every Thing About You," and the crowd roared. They followed that up with "Animal" and "Never Too Late." They then brought out a guest vocalist who helped them sing a cover of Limp Bizkit's "Break Stuff," which prompted the guys next to me to ask if that was a new song. After the guest vocalist left, the band launched into "Riot" as their set closer.

Overall, Three Days Grace plays their material well in an arena. I think Matt Walst established himself as a good replacement for Gontier. I only really noticed one time when he seemed to be looking at something he didn't understand or expect in the set list and could be seen talking to guitarist Stock. It could have been a conversation about the girls in the audience – obviously I don't know – but that seemed to be the only minor hiccup for a vocalist that had to learn 15 songs between December 21 and February 1.

Shine Down opened their set with "Enemies," with only drummer Barry Kerch on the main stage while vocalist Brent Smith, guitarist Zach Myers and bassist Eric Bass were on a stage towards the back of the arena, near the soundboard. Without a doubt, Shine Down is a headlining act. I can say this because I've seen them transition from opening act status at Memphis in May 2004 to middle band in 2008 to the last band of the night in 2013. The transition has included a makeover. Vocalist Smith wore dress slacks, nice shirt, vest, and tie, and a good haircut. Kerch, Myers and Bass also looked sharp. Usually, I don't care what a band looks like, but I mention it because it looked like the band got involved with a producer or some sort of makeover person. It was such a contrast to how Three Days Grace present themselves that it needs to be mentioned. Smith, for his part, looks really good. It's well-documented that he has lost 70 pounds and has been on a workout regime. Good for him.

They played all the radio hits you would expect, including "Follow You Down" and "If You Only Knew." Since the first time I saw them, they have always covered Lynyrd Skynyrd's "Simple Man." Myers and Smith walked back to the soundboard stage, Myers with an acoustic guitar. He started playing riffs from various songs, including the Black Crowes' "She Talks To Angels." The entire arena sang. Smith then said, "That's too sentimental for tonight." Myers started Metallica's "Enter Sandman" and the Violent Femmes' "Blister In The Sun" before Smith said, "What do you think this is, karaoke?" And then, Myers started "Simple Man." During an instrumental interlude between the verses, Smith and Myers walked back to the main stage and finished the song there. I'm not a real fan of that song, but I liked that they did something different with it.

Back on the main stage, Smith told the crowd, "One more, for the road." Their last song was "Bully" and on their video screen, a video from Amanda Todd, the teenager who committed suicide in October 2012, was played. The band didn't preach about bullying or say anything about the video, which made its impact that much stronger. Todd's video is available on youtube.com and it is worth watching.

Here are my predictions for these three bands:

  1. POD will win over more fans.
  2. Matt Walst will continue to establish himself as the definitive vocalist for Three Days Grace.
  3. Shine Down will continue to put on an entertaining show with their showmanship.

This tour continues through March 30th. You need to go see it.  

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