REVIEW: Carnival of Madness Featuring Shinedown

Carnival of Madness Featuring Shinedown is a long-running tour that Shinedown headlines every summer, with a different supporting cast accompanying them each year. This year’s incarnation of Carnival of Madness saw HalestormBlack Stone Cherry and Whiskey Myers join the tour for most dates, including this past Sunday at Ford Amphitheater at Coney Island Boardwalk, for which we were in attendance to witness of the best performances of the summer to this point. I’ve been dying to see both Halestorm and Shinedown for quite some time now, and I got to knock both off the bucket list in one incredible night at a venue right in my own neighborhood. What could be better than that?

The night kicked off with Whiskey Myers opening for a minimal crowd, as most would arrive later in the evening for Halestorm and Shinedown, the two big names on the lineup. Now Whiskey Myers are a little more country than I’d like, even for being a hard rock-bluegrass band, complete with a tambourine and a lead singer, Cody Cannon, wearing a cowboy hat towards the end of their set. That being said, Whiskey Myers absolutely sold me on their ability to rock even though their time was very limited, with the band playing only 5 songs before departing. Those songs included Early Morning ShakesMudHomeHeadstone and How Far. Though short, their performance was solid and entertaining, and they did their job of warming up the crowd very well. I’d really like to hear more from these guys, and I expect to see them doing bigger and better things in the future.

Whiskey Myers
Cody Cannon of Whiskey Myers performing at Cony Island Amphitheater

Next up was Black Stone Cherry, who I’ve heard of and even listened to for a bit a few years back when they released Between The Devil and The Deep Blue Sea, with their hit tracks White Trash Millionaire, which surprisingly did not make the setlist for this particular performance, and Blame It on the Boom Boom, which they did play on this night. Being from Kentucky and being a hard rock band generally don’t go together, and it’s odd seeing a bunch of Midwestern guys in cowboy hats and spurs playing good old American hard rock in current times; Lynyrd Skynyrd made the southern hard rock deal work, but it doesn’t always fly in this generation of pop-over-everything, but Black Stone Cherry manages to pull it off well. Guitarist Ben Wells was particular awesome, flying around the stage, jumping on speakers, doing karate kicks while playing, but vocalist Chris Roberson really kills, adding a Midwestern twang to the band’s hard hitting rock songs. In addition to playing Blame It on the Boom Boom, the band lit up the stage with Me and Mary Jane to open, and closed with an epic rendition of Motorhead’s classic Ace of Spades, which they dedicated to the late Lemmy Kilmister, and was not only a surprise but also one hell of a way to end an already impressive set. Bands like Black Stone Cherry deserve more credit than they get, especially when they’re as good live as these guys are.

Black Stone Cherry
Ben Wells of Black Stone Cherry at Coney Island Amphitheater

Since Carnival of Madness is Shinedown’s tour, it should be obvious that Halestorm were next to hit the stage. As I mentioned earlier, I’ve wanted to see Halestorm for a long time; I missed them when they came around on their own headline tour earlier this year at Webster Hall, so I jumped at the chance to see a tour they were on. It’s no secret to anyone who knows me that I think Lizzy Hale is an absolute bad ass of a rocker, with a raspy voice that I’ve been in love with since I first heard I Get Off, which was part of their set. The band opened with Love Bites (So Do I), which I was never really a fan of but is not a bad song by any means, before going into Mz. Hyde and following it up with one of my favorites, Apocalyptic. From there, Lizzy, Arejay and company would go into four more of my favorite Halestorm songs, starting with Amen and going into I Like It Heavy and I Am The Fire, both of which I love like crazy, and then I Get Off.  Following up on those hits, they would also do Freak Like MeMayhem and finally closing their 10-song set with I Miss The Misery, which was one of the songs that really sold me on Halestorm from their second album, The Strange Case Of…

As I expected, Halestorm absolutely killed it on stage in Coney Island. Lizzy Hale‘s voice is even more incredible live than it is on any of their studio albums, and it seems like she only got better as the set went on. I was a bit disappointed that they only had time for 10 songs; I would have loved to hear UnapologeticDear Daughter and Here’s To Us, all of which are among my favorite songs, and Here’s To Us and Dear Daughter are particularly great songs. All three were played two nights prior at the Wisconsin State Fair Park, but the band had more time on that night and were able to get 16 songs in. There is absolutely no questioning the ability of this band, and I can’t wait for their next album and headline tour so I can see them again and again and again; Halestorm easily ranks among my favorite bands, and with a performance like the one they put on at Coney Island Amphitheater, it’s no wonder they have a massive following.

Lizzy Hale of Halestorm performing at Coney Island Amphitheater

And now, after nearly 3 hours, it was time for the night’s main event – ShinedownShinedown is another band I’ve been wanting to see for a long, long time. I still remember the first time I ever heard a Shinedown song; the song I Dare You was used in a fan-made compilation video from the TV series Heroes that made the rounds on Youtube back in 2007. Granted, the song had been out for a good 2 years by that point, but here in NYC we’ve lacked an alternative rock station for quite a long time, so finding new rock is near impossible on terrestrial radio. At that point I started listening to as much Shinedown as I could find floating around Youtube, and I really got into them with 2008’s The Sound of Madness, with If You Only KnewCyanide Sweet Tooth and Call Me ranking among my favorites from that album, though only Call Me would make the setlist for this show.

The band’s set opened with Adrenaline from 2012’s Amaryllis, and Shinedown would later play Enemies off the same album, though surprisingly their biggest hit from that studio effort, Bully, was not played. Adrenaline would be followed by 2003’s Fly From The Inside and then, Shinedown would give me a very pleasant surprise by playing Diamond Eyes, a song I’ve loved since the moment I first heard it, and one that I was not at all expecting them to play. Two songs later would be one of the singles and hits off their latest album, Threat To Survival, with the song Asking For It, which I’ve had in heavy rotation lately.  Other songs included in this night’s performance were a cover of I’ll Follow YouState of My Head, an acoustic version of Second Chance, their biggest hit from their most recent album, Cut The Cord, a cover of Radiohead’s Creep and an epic cover of the Lynyrd Skynrd classic Simple Man.

Unfortunately, all things must come to an end, even those that are so good you wish it could last forever. And with that, it was time for Shinedown’s last song of the night, which was, of course, Sound of Madness. What’s left to say, really? Shinedown was the highlight of the night, but Halestorm was also a big reason why I was there, and neither Black Stone Cherry nor Whiskey Myers disappointed. The entire lineup absolutely crushed it, with Shinedown putting on what is easily one the top 5 shows I’ve ever seen to cap off an incredible festival-esque night before a crowd that couldn’t have been any happier. Speaking of the crowd, lead singer Brent Smith was one of the coolest dude’s I’ve ever seen on a stage, as he took the time to greet fans in the front row, and even shook the hands of every photographer in the pit. One of the best things I’ve ever seen out of all the shows I’ve covered.

At the end of the day, the two bands I was most interested in seeing put on a hell of a show, and the other support were very good. Whoever put this lineup together did a great job, and if you have the chance to catch Shinedown on their Carnival of Madness tour, you should definitely get on that. This one is worth seeing again and again, and next year’s Carnival of Madness is going to have a lot to live up to.

Check out our photo gallery of Shinedown below.

Brent Smith of Shinedown greets fans during band’s performance at Coney Island Amphitheater