WORDS BY DAVID TAYLOR and PHOTOS BY ROBERT A. CHADWICK | Go Venue Magazine
Friday, May 11, 2018 – 89.7 the River and Westfair Amphitheater has been cranking out these festival-type shows for awhile now. This one, unfortunately, started on the wrong foot. Originally, gates were suppose to open at 1 pm. But due to some technical difficulties and logistical issues, gates were pushed to 2 pm. I got to the gates around 2, thinking they would let people in already. I was proven wrong, as they were still trying to fix whatever was happening (I later heard it was due to some electrical maintenance on the roof of the stage, since there was lightning early this morning). Gates were later opened around 3, with me not entering the venue till around 3:30. Traffic was backed, causing some people to miss the first couple bands. Unfortunately, Omaha’s own Arson City was cut from the bill due to this issue, but were later forgiven as they were added to a show in August with Stone Sour at Westfair, details to come soon. Yeah, it was unfortunate this series of unfortunate events had to occur, as this is what many people didn’t expect upon entering Westfair. Nonetheless, a giant rock show had to played and that is why the people came.
First band up was Shaman’s Harvest. This was my fourth time seeing them live, last time was when they opened up for Nickelback last year. They have such catchy songs. I just wish Nathan Hunt, lead singer, would sound like the records because his voice is shot. But, he still tries to make it his own and that’s why I have massive respect for him. I think the crowd was really receptive to them, as this wasn’t their first rodeo at Westfair, having played River Riot in 2015. Awesome set, overall.
Next up was Bad Wolves. This band has been making some big moves lately. Earlier this year, they were originally going to cover the Cranberries’s song, “Zombie”, with their singer, Dolores O’Riordan. Unfortunately, O’Riordan died on January 15, 2018. They released the song without her vocals, as a tribute to her, with proceeds of the single’s sales going to O’Riordan’s children. So many people pitched in that it was #1 on the main iTunes chart for a week. For a new band, they really got the crowd going. The same day the played the show was the same day their new album, Disobey, was released. Tommy Vext is such a charismatic frontman, saying shows like this are like Olive Garden, when you’re here, you’re family. And before they played the sludgy “No Masters”, he said something like, “We’re taking you back to 1996 Metallica!” Such energy in that band, firing up the crowd. The obviously ended their set with their cover of “Zombie”, making it a giant sing-along, as this song has been getting constant radio play all over the country. What an amazing showing by Bad Wolves and would love for them to come back to the metro area.
Starset was up next. This was also my fourth time seeing them. They’ve played Westfair before, having played Rockfest 2015. I always love when a band evolves and Starset is one of those bands. When the budget ensues, they really go for the production. Recently, they have been experimenting with augmented reality through cell phones. Unfortunately, service was pretty bad and I couldn’t download it, but they next time you see these guys, I encourage you get the app. They had a perfect blend of material from their both albums. Lots of CO2. Always innovative and fresh, they always put on a great show.
The first of the co-headline was Shinedown. I’ve been listening to Shinedown since my freshman year of high school and this was, finally, my first seeing them. They opened up with “Sound of Madness”, as they should to get this crowd fist-pumping. It’s amazing that they are part of a co-headline, but brought production like they were actually closing the show. So much energy on that stage. Brent Smith is one of the greatest frontmen of all time, such a humble individual, taking account of everyone, making sure everyone is safe. They played “Kill Your Conscience”, “Pyro” and “Devil” off their new album, Attention Attention, which is really good, by the way. Hearing everyone sing-along to “Simple Man” was really chilling. It was amazing to finally see these guys live after all these years. Hopefully, they’ll come to the metro area more often.
Finally, it was Five Finger Death Punch’s turn to hit the stage. I was impressed with the production they brought with them, with the lights and lasers. Unlike the last time I saw them, which was last year in Sioux City, they brought them some new material, such as “Trouble” and “Fake”, off their upcoming album, And Justice for None. Ivan Moody, singer, has so much fun on stage, like he’s a kid in a candy store. Jason Hook shreds for days. Chris Kael has such an amazing stage presence. They closed with “The Bleeding”, with confetti flying everywhere. I was surprised to see so many people at this concert. It really says a lot that rock isn’t dead and it is alive and well.