Master of Ceremonies: Shinedown singer Brent Smith. Who else to lead such an event than this congenial rabble-rouser?
Tattooed contortionist: Sevendust drummer Morgan Rose. While his arms are flailing the rest of him gyrates, all in perfect beat. Known as the “Alien Freak,” Rose is, hands-down, one of the most captivating rock drummers, both on this planet and whatever one he’s from.
The amazing miniature guitarist: Jordan Scantlin. Wes Scantlin of Puddle of Mudd brought out his young teen son to play guitar on “Psycho.” Looking like his Dad’s “mini me,” Jordan played up the crowd, tossed guitar pics and even leaped off the drum riser.
Ferris Wheel: Chevelle. The dependable favorite that should never be skipped.
“Tilt-A-Whirl” ride: The interactive giveaways. The band member video vignettes hyping the giveaways and cell phone trivia contest was great fun during the set changes. It’s the future of concerts.
Freak show: The raucous crowd that packed the floor. One of the coolest area rock shows attracted matching fans.
ESTERO — The Carnival of Madness tour, featuring five top bands, rocked Germain Arena ’til the building reverberated this past Wednesday. Of the estimated 4,500 concertgoers, the one looking forward to this show, perhaps more than anyone else there, was Army Specialist Kory McManus of Fort Myers. A perfectly timed two-week leave from his post in Iraq enabled him to attend. Arena staff, radio station 99X and the bands’ management surprised him with a “meet & greet” barbecue with the bands and preferred seats at the show.
10 Years started the mega-show at 5 p.m. with a brief but compelling set, sparing no energy. Why this band isn’t huge is baffling. Plenty of music lovers apparently thought so, too: A decent early crowd was a pleasant sight.
The mighty Sevendust followed, opening with “Splinter,” off their new album. Their set included two frenzy-inducing classics, “Angel’s Son” and “Face to Face.” Sevendust is a band that never looks uncomfortable on stage — probably because they live there.
Personifying rough-and-tumble rock ‘n’ roll, Puddle of Mudd brought in well-earned swagger. Each hit they played drew more energy from the crowd and the general admission floor went ballistic to their cover of AC/DC’s “T.N.T.”
They’ve sold millions of albums and have a ton of catchy hits, but boiled down, Mudd is simply a good-time rock band, perfect for a show like this. If you hit the Florida Lottery Powerball, hire them to play your celebratory bash — and please invite me.
Chevelle is more head-bob than mosh pit. The methodical trio went on stage in nondescript attire, left off the spotlights and pelted the crowd with hit after hit, such as “Still Running” and “The Red.” A little over four hours into the carnival, the crowd was beginning to look a bit worn. But by the time a back-lit curtain projected Shinedown to the opening notes of “The Sound of Madness,” the enthusiasm had re-ignited.
When the curtain dropped to reveal the band, singer Brent Smith, donning a top hat, cane and sinister smile, strutted down a set of stairs to deliver the metaphoric “Shotgun blast, a kick in the ...” as the song’s opening lyrics go. They kept delivering with the same drama for about an hour and a half.
Shinedown played hits, their two recent movie soundtrack tunes and even their cover of Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Simple Man.” “Heros” and “Left Out” inspired some crowd surfing. Their power ballads, such as “The Crow & the Butterfly,” blended in seamlessly with the pandemonium of “Save Me” and “Fly from the Inside.” Smith went into the crowd twice, one time spanning the entire floor to check in with each arena section.
A huge lighting rig and video screen dominated the production. While no pyrotechnics were used, there was a massive bang — for the buck, that is.
Mindful of the economy and usual heavy summer concert activity, organizers had kept base ticket prices under $40. Smith acknowledged this and gave a heartfelt thank you to the crowd that stood before him.
For a line-up of this caliber, carnival-goers got quite a return on investment. The bands brought it and so did the crowd.
It’s a good thing the ice was removed after hockey season. It never would’ve lasted through the heat of this show.
Chris Bradshaw is a Bonita Springs-based concert photographer who loves to shoot the show. He’s covered local bands in tiny smoke-filled bars, U2 in a sold-out stadium and everything in between.