If you’re anything like me, you need a heavy show here and there to get you by. Heavy music to me is a must have. My lifeline. Almost like a fix I need in order to keep functioning and stay sane. While I am incredibly lucky to have the opportunity to see an abundance of live music on a weekly basis, I feel myself getting internally stir crazy when it’s been a long time between hard rock and metal shows. I’m just not the same without it.
Luckily for me, I found the perfect release last night as Godsmack, Volbeat and Stitched Up Heart unleashed the fury during a SOLD OUT show at The Armory. Presented by 93X, this show was a massive one.
The doors opened early at 5:30pm, but I didn’t arrive at the venue until 7:00pm. Just as I expected, there were already a mass amount of people filling the walls of The Armory before the first opening band had taken the stage. The anticipation for this show was infectious.
Kicking off the evening’s antics were Los Angeles hard rock band Stitched Up Heart. Formed in 2010, Stitched Up Heart was the brainchild of singer Alecia “Mixi” Demner. Their current lineup consists of Demner, James Decker on drums, Merritt Goodwin on guitar, and Randy Mathias on bass. Having only one full length album and one EP, the band has still been making waves in the hard rock scene over the past few years. Their slot opening up Godsmack is the band’s biggest touring achievement to date. With sounds and style similar to In This Moment, Evanescence and Halestorm, Stitched Up Heart were warmly and passionately welcomed by fans at The Armory.
Stitched Up Heart played loud, and had a powerful presence on stage. Lead singer Mixi Demner was confident and commanding on stage, and was also very fun to watch. Jumping, headbanging and engaging with the crowd, they made the most out of their short, but spellbinding set. They looked like true professionals enjoying their craft, as if they have been playing arena shows for years. Stitched Up Heart was a demonstration of badass, female-fronted rock at its finest. I’m sure I will be seeing this group again very soon.
(Unfortunately due to complications with our photographer being able to secure his photo pass, no photos were taken of Stitched Up Heart)
Up next, were Danish rockabilly powerhouse Volbeat. There was an obvious anticipation among the crowd for Volbeat’s set to begin. Fellow TCM writer Mike Barrett was at The Armory as well last night, somewhere standing among the masses enjoying the show. Being the die-hard Volbeat fan that he is, Mike wanted to contribute part of his review of Volbeat’s set to this article. Of course, I was happy to have him co-author. Please enjoy Mike’s recap of Volbeat here:
“We made it to the venue as soon as just as Volbeat kicked into their opening song, “The Devil’s Bleeding Crown. This was my first time in the Armory, and it was so impressive to walk into a packed house singing along to that popular first single from 2016’s Seal the Deal and Let’s Boogie. The crowd was instantly into it and the sound in the Armory is phenomenal. I wore my “Lola Montez” t-shirt, and we would hear that next as the 12-song script was the same one used all tour. I remember a previous concert where they shared a minute of this song in progress. The sweet guitar licks showcased the playing of former Anthrax guitarist Rob Caggiano. He’s been with Volbeat since 2013, after initially working with the band as a record producer. In both roles he’s brought the band to a new level. Following “Lola”, Poulsen told the crowd, “Minneapolis, it’s been a long time. The last time we were here was with the mighty Metallica.”
As most everyone knows, Poulsen’s unique vocals are blend of two strong musical influences: Elvis Presley and Johnny Cash. And the frontman said, “The next song goes out to Mr. Johnny Cash.” After a snippet of “Ring of Fire” it was “Sad Man’s Tongue” which was clearly inspired by Mr. Cash. The themes for many of his songs are inspired by his interest in America’s Wild West and gangster history. But why is Volbeat our favorite band? I’m not completely sure, but for some reason they fit like a glove. Probably because its hard rock with true melody and such catchy guitar licks. Every song welcomes you to sing along, even if some of the lyrics are lost in translation. Plus, they don’t monkey around with stage theatrics but just play their awesome tunes.
“Let’s get ready to rumble!” Those famous words by Michael Buffer announced the next song, “A Warrior’s Call.” The popular radio single got the crowd chanting along, “Fight, fight, fight, fight!” The song transitioned into a medley finish with their crunchy guitar version of the old standard “I Only Want to Be With You.” Following “Black Rose,” another successful single from the 2016 album, Poulsen shared some information about their upcoming album which were hoping to hear more about. My friend Mike had been complaining that Volbeat never plays “Fallen” at any concerts he’s at. Well, his wait was over as Poulsen introduced the song he wrote about losing his father, saying, “This goes out to all who lost someone.” If anyone had not been involved, they were now, singing along to this powerful song. Before their final two songs, Poulsen introduced the rest of the band, including drummer Jon Larsen and the newest member of the group, bassist Kaspar Boye Larsen.
You could tell the band was impressed with the crowd and Poulsen told us, “We will go to bed tonight with a smile on our face, because Minneapolis, you rock! Do you want to “Seal the Deal” with Volbeat?” The title song from the album got the crowd boogieing and then it was already time to end the show with “Still Counting.” The crowd was invited to start off singing the song on their own and seemed to take great joy in counting the assholes. It did sound better when the lead singer helped them out to close-out their hour of music to make way for Godsmack. Their set was great but left us wanting more, with dozens of great songs left unplayed. Their monster hit “Heaven nor Hell” didn’t make the cut. Nor did the song we hoped Bernie could sing along to in Danish, “For Evigt.” Still, you could count plenty of happy Volbeat fans in the room.”
The Devil’s Bleeding Crown / Lola Montez / Sad Man’s Tongue / A Warrior’s Call – I Only Want to Be With You / Let It Burn / Black Rose / The Everlasting / 16 Dollars / Dead But Rising / Fallen / Seal the Deal / Still Counting.
As a sea of people in the GA area shifted around to get drinks and use the bathroom, I quickly found myself standing just a handful of rows back from the stage. After getting stuck behind a tall, 6’5″ft tall St. Paul dad during Volbeat’s set, I couldn’t have asked for a better spot to watch Godsmack take the stage — and I was feeling pumped. No tall dudes, nobody ramming into my back, just me and Godsmack.
Sure enough, Godsmack swiftly came out and took the stage by storm. Thundering with a high power and energy, the band cranked it up to 11 — welcoming the crowd to the rock show with their new song, “When Legends Rise.” The roar of The Armory after the first song was deafening. They then went into their song “1000hp, which was accompanied by massive pyrotechnics and fire crackers, keeping the audience on their toes. I always love it when the pyrotechnics at a show are so explosive you feel the warmth of the fire brush against your face. Between the tight sound, high energy and entertaining stage show, it’s no secret why Godsmack have been one of the most dominating and prominent bands throughout the last two decades. They are so much fun to watch and experience and give plenty of credit to the fans for holding them up for so long.
While the performance on stage was great, the sound at The Armory was flawless. This is the third show I have seen at this venue and it is without a doubt one of the best sounding venues in the Twin Cities. The mix for all three bands was absolutely perfect and I found myself in awe of how sharp and crisp Godsmack sounded. Every instrument and vocal came through with such an eloquent delivery.
Confident in their performance, Godsmack carried a high impact energy with them throughout the entire set. One of my favorite moments of the night was the drum battle between Erna and Godsmack drummer Shannon Larkin — “Batalla de los Tambores.” Both Erna and Larkin were mesmerizing in their style of play and execution. Erna shifted between playing the bongos with his hands and playing a full kit with sticks. The night ended with, “Whatever”, which of course ferociously ignited the crowd and sparked a sing-a-long with Erna. The audience was alive, and they were loud.
It’s no secret that the Twin Cities likes their rock heavy and hard. And last night’s show at The Armory was the perfect way to quell the craving for heavy that exists inside all of us. Some shows are just special like that. All I can say is I hope it doesn’t take another four years to see these bands come through Minneapolis again.
When Legends Rise / 1000hp / Say My Name / Keep Away / Cryin’ Like a Bitch / Awake / Unforgettable / Something Different / Voodoo / Batalla de los Tambores / Whatever / Encore: Bulletproof / Come Together (Beatles cover) / I Stand Alone