In my last post, I told you all that I rushed back from Florida because I had some other things bubbling in the background. And bubbling, they were. That week was a three shoot week, but you’re only going to hear about two of them in this post. Yes, I’m going to make you wait for that last one.
The Tabernacle in Atlanta was the place, and two of music’s top bands were the subjects of my Tuesday night shoot. I was fortunate enough to find myself in the photographer pit with about fifteen of some of the finest concert photographers in Atlanta to shoot headliners Godsmack, and their openers, HELLYEAH.
For those of you not from Atlanta, The Tabernacle is one of the most iconic venues in the city. Built in the early 1900’s and designed by architect Reuben Harrison Hunt, the site functioned as a church until late 1994. For a brief period, from 1996 to 1998, the venue was operated under the House of Blues moniker. In 1998, The Tabernacle was launched and has been hosting some of the biggest names in music and comedy ever since. Operating now under the LiveNation banner, the venue has capacity of 2,600 people with a combination of balcony seating and general admission standing room in front of the stage.
I found my way to The Tabernacle on the late afternoon of Tuesday, 28 April, and made my way to the loading zone to find the tour manager for the evening’s events. Already, there was a line of people standing by the barricades watching the crew unload gear and haul it into the building. Occasionally, I have a reason to be at a show far in advance of the start time, and this night was one of those nights. In advance of the show, I’d been granted an interview that will be coming out this fall as part of an interview series. Who and what? We can’t spoil all the surprises now, can we? Keep checking back for more clues and the series launch!
Supergroup HELLYEAH opened the show that night with an explosive set from their Blood for Blood album. Chad Gray’s vocals, while always impressive, were chill-inducing. This was my first opportunity to see HELLYEAH live, and I had to wonder why I’ve waited so long. The group has been through some changes this past year, but you’d never see that in their performance. They were locked in and on fire. Kyle Sanders is a welcome addition to the band on bass, and it’s like he’s been there forever. He has an on-stage chemistry that bonds to every other member of the band and makes you feel like you’re witnessing lightning in a bottle. These guys were a blast to shoot. Every member of the band had something on stage that was photo-worthy. I was a little sad that the common “first three songs only” rule applied. After song three, we had to exit the venue to wait for the next show. Fortunately, our waiting area included protection from the evening’s drizzly rain and a big screen TV on which to watch the remainder of the set.
Even though there wasn’t much ado made about it at the show, this is my blog and I’m putting this out here because I think HELLYEAH is doing a great thing being an active part of the NO MORE cause (www.NOMORE.org). NOMORE.org has made it their mission to end domestic violence and sexual assault. As Chad Gray says on the band’s website, “YOU’RE NOT ALONE! Raise your voice and Stand against domestic violence.” #NOMORE #HUSHNOMORE
Then, came Godsmack. Frontman Sully Erna said of their 1000hp album that the sound is, “a little bit more raw, a little bit more open.” Based on what I heard, that’s an understatement. Erna’s vocal delivery has always been gritty, snarly, and raw, but I heard something deeper and more primal in this show than has been evident previously. Shannon Larkin’s drumming was hard-hitting and explosive, creating a solid foundation for Robbie Merrill’s solid earth-moving basslines. Together, Larkin and Merrill could launch a construction industry by virtue of their ability to sonically blow stuff up and move it around. That kind of volatility needs an original thread to keep it stitched together, and Godsmack has always had that with Tony Rombola on lead guitar. Rombola is one of the most original and influential guitarists of the past decade, and is a key element of the sound that is Godsmack.
Godsmack’s next single from 1000hp will be released soon according to an interview earlier this week in Syracuse. With great exposure comes great responsibility, and Godsmack is stepping to the plate. They’ll be teaming up with members of the U.S. Armed Forces with the release of “What’s Next?” In the interview with K-Rock Radio, Sully Erna said, “We’re gonna do a whole campaign to help out homeless vets, the guys with PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder), all that stuff. We’re just gonna do a whole thing for an awareness level, for a bit of inspiration. And we’re such big supporters of the U.S. troops. We don’t support war – we wanna be clear about that – but we support our troops and what they have to do, and how they put their lives on the line for us every day so we can live in a country like this.”
Be sure to get out and see Godsmack and HELLYEAH when they come to a venue near you. You won’t be sorry you did. And stay tuned here, too, for the cool new shows, shoots, and music news I have planned for you, my little pretties.