To its credit, veteran rockers Shinedown still play arenas, while once-dominant acts such as Creed have downsized aspirations to theater-sized proportions.
But there are risks associated with aiming high and Shinedown encountered a few of them in a 75-minute headlining set on Saturday at Amway Center.
Mainly, it’s a drag if people don’t show up.
There were plenty of empty seats on Saturday, although most were hidden behind the black curtain that covered the vacant upper bowl. There’s nothing like playing for a half-filled hall to sap energy from an otherwise capable band.
Fortunately, Shinedown’s intense rock songs worked reasonably well as an independent power source, especially in the early going.
Singer Brent Smith, guitarist Zach Myers, drummer Barry Kerch and bassist Eric Bass launched into the opening “Enemies” with abandon, with three of them performing on a satellite stage in the middle of the floor. It was followed by a manic “Devour,” augmented by frenetic lasers and spotlights.
Shinedown have scored 17 chart-topping singles since releasing the 2003 debut “Leave a Whisper.” The band hasn’t varied its approach much in “Us and Them” (2005), “The Sound of Madness” (2008) and “Amaryllis” (2012).
That sameness is amplified in concert, where booming bass, drums and guitars are harnessed into either anthemic rockers (“Unity”) or melodramatic ballads (“The Crow & the Butterfly”). At some point, the formula wore thin, even with the fancy light show.
Opening act P.O.D. emerged with more urgency, showing in “Boom,” “Set It Off” and “Lost in Forever” that there’s still life in the 1990s notion of rap-metal.
Despite a harsh sound mix that worked against frontman Sonny Sandoval, fan favorites such as “Youth of the Nation” and “Alive” were effective sing-alongs in a well-paced 35 minutes.
P.O.D. was followed by Three Days Grace, on the road in the wake of the departure of lead singer Adam Gontier in January.
Gontier’s replacement, Matt Walst (My Darkest Days) was confident in a 75-minute set, swaggering through “Chalk Outline,” “I Hate Everything About You” and others. Alas, the plodding material still sounded tired, like the work of an undeniably average rock band.
Likewise, Shinedown couldn’t transform all those hits into something big enough to fill an arena.Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times