The Carnival of Madness came through town recently, and I had the distinct displeasure of attending the event. For those of you not familiar with the tour, it features five bands: 10 Years, Sevendust, Chevelle, Puddle of Mudd, and Shinedown. Sevendust was the only band I had any kind of interest in seeing, though I hadn’t heard anything by them since their second album, which came out in 1999. With a few exceptions, I haven’t been too keen on new music since around the turn of the century, so I knew going in that this was not going to be my favorite concert ever. However, I withheld hope that the bands would at least be professional and put on a show worth me being there for five hours. I was even hoping to like it. After all, I’ve become a fan of a few bands upon seeing them live. As the night went on, my hopes were crushed again and again.
The night started out with 10 Years. The first thing I noticed was that the sound levels were pretty bad. I couldn’t hear the bass player at all. They were also really sloppy. The band phased in and out of togetherness, and the singer couldn’t hit the high notes. He could, however, swear. Now, I’m a big boy. I can handle people swearing. I can even handle people swearing a lot. Hell, I swear a lot. The singer was swearing a lot, but he wasn’t saying anything. It seemed he was just swearing to be swearing. And, in what was a recurring theme throughout the night, he had to keep telling everyone to do stuff. You know, to put their hands up, or to sing with him, or to jump around. Dude, if people dug your shit that much, they’d be doing it without you telling them to.
Next up was Sevendust. Cool, the band I was there to see. Sound levels were pretty good, and the band was fairly tight. However, as time went on, I noticed that their singer was talking a lot. I don’t know how many times he reminded the crowd that “We are Sevendust”, and in accordance with the theme of the night, at one point he demanded that everyone march around in a circle. He was also trying way too hard with his singing. Now, I’ve heard the dude before, I know he can sing. But on this night, it was like he was out to prove it or something, and it ruined what could have been a bright spot of the show.
Puddle of Mudd was the next to hit the stage. Holy shit. These guys don’t sound that bad on the radio. How they sound live is a completely different story. From bad sound levels to terrible timing, these guys stunk up the place. The singer had trouble hitting any notes to start with, so he kept asking the crowd to sing with him. Toward the end of the set, someone in the band got on the mic and started talking about how it was so hot that his balls were sticking to his leg. Haha! That’s funny. Five minutes later, he was still talking about his balls, and it wasn’t funny anymore. He went four minutes and fifty seconds too long on that one, give or take ten seconds. They closed with a cover of AC/DC’s “TNT”, and they absolutely destroyed the song. It was very, very sad.
Next on the bill was Chevelle. They ripped right into their first song, and I was pleasantly surprised. The levels sounded good, and the band was tight. Then, they went in to their second song, which was a little less ferocious, but still sounded good for what it was. For the rest of the set, I couldn’t tell when one song began and another started. Everything sounded the same, and it was completely boring. I took the opportunity to head to the bathroom at this point, which was apparently what everyone else was thinking, too, because there was a line coming out of the bathroom that extended back at least forty feet. The band did manage to avoid the trend of talking too much and asking the crowd to do stuff, but that breath of fresh air was about to be stifled by a long, wet, horrendous Shinedown fart.
Let me get this out of the way first: Shinedown sounded as good as they could. If you are a fan of theirs, then you won’t be disappointed with the performance at all. The levels were right, and the music was tight. The singer hit all the notes. In the case of “Simple Man”, however, he also hit many notes that he shouldn’t have. They even stopped the music at one point so he could drone on a little longer. I can’t believe Lynard Skynard gave these people permission to shit on their song like that. The singer also talked waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay too much. Even the people I talked to after the show who like Shinedown said he talked too much. Whether he was telling the story about how they just recorded a song for The Expendables soundtrack, or talking about how he was no longer referring to their shows as concerts, but as events, the guy would not shut the hell up. Here’s the kicker though: earlier in the set, he asked everyone to shake the hand of the person next to them. I’m used to shows where the singer tells us to punch the person next to us in the face, but okay, whatever. Then, it got much worse. Later during the “event”, he asked us to turn back to that person whose hand we had shaken earlier, and hug them. I shit you not. Not only were we supposed to hug them, but we were supposed to hold onto them and jump around when the current song kicked back in. Anyone who has ever been to a rock concert knows that this is a very, very bad idea. With the exception of an occasional hot looker, the freakshow that shows up to these things is not something you want to get intimate with.
Is the show worth going to? If you are a fan of Shinedown or Chevelle, I suppose it is. If not, there are better things you could do with your money, like flush it down the toilet. Personally, this show was the worst one I’ve ever seen. Even the fight I witnessed was dull. It was just two drunk dudes holding each other until security broke them up. Who knows, maybe Shinedown’s singer put them up to it.