Nothing goes better with the holidays than a kick-ass rock show. Just days before families gathered to have Thanksgiving dinner, rock fans in Rochester, NY, had the opportunity to go see one of the best concerts Blue Cross Arena has had in quite some time. On Tuesday, Nov. 22nd, Rochester welcomed Five Finger Death Punch and Shinedown alongside support acts Sixx:A.M., and As Lions. The entire night consisted of great music alongside magnificent production.
The night started early just after 6 PM with opening band As Lions. While the area was still filling in, As Lions had the task of getting this crowd ready for a long night of headbanging. The audience may have not been familiar with the band, but that’s probably due to the fact that the group just came together in 2015. As Lions is lead by vocalist Austin Dickinson. If the last name rings a bell, it’s because you’re thinking of Dickinson’s father Bruce, lead singer of Iron Maiden. The rest of the band is made up of members of Dickinson’s past metalcore group, Rise to Remain, which disbanded with the creation of As Lions.
The 5-piece band played like they were playing in front of a sold out arena. The band has that radio-rock sound that could be found scanning the car radio. The band looked very comfortable on stage which isn’t common for an opening band. Their confidence should help carry them forward and land them tour gigs for many years to come. For anyone looking for a fresh new band, check out As Lions. Their debut album drops on January 20.
The next band of the evening was Sixx:A.M., which features Nikki Sixx of Mötley Crüe. Joining Sixx in Sixx:A.M. is vocalist James Michael, guitarist DJ Ashba and drummer Dustin Steinke. Sixx’s band has been around since 2007, with the release of The Heroin Diaries Soundtrack, but has always saw the back burner due to Sixx’s commitment with Crüe and Ashba’s work with Guns N’ Roses. Now that everyone is completely focused on Sixx:A.M. the band has their foot pressed against the gas pedal. Just this year, the band has released a double album which features Prayers for the Damned, Vol. 1 and Prayers for the Blessed, Vol. 2. The second of the two albums was released just days before Rochester’s show at Blue Cross Arena.
Now with five albums of material, the band has plenty to pick from for a setlist. The set opened with “This Is Gonna Hurt,” which was the title track of their second album. The second song they played was “Rise,” which has been all over the radio since its single release. The rest of the set consisted of songs mainly from Prayers for the Damned, Vol. 1. It’s remarkable to see how much fun this band has on stage. The joy and happiness radiates from the band into the audience unlike any other band. Fans sing along with every song and have smiles on their faces from ear to ear.
The set ended with “Life Is Beautiful,” which was off of the debut album The Heroin Diaries Soundtrack. Everyone in the audience surely knew this song and loved it. Sixx:A.M. surely had no troubles opening for Five Finger Death Punch. The heavy metal fans of Rochester welcomed Sixx and his band with open arms. The only thing that could have made the show better would have been a longer setlist. Hopefully once this tour wraps up, fans will have the chance to see a headlining tour around the country.
Next up for the evening was hard-rock veterans, Shinedown. Opening for Five Finger Death Punch, it was a mystery to see how they would do with the crowd. Questions were answered with the opening track of “Adrenaline.” Coming out strong with one of their heaviest songs from their album Amaryllis, Shinedown was prepared to blow the roof off of the arena. The statement was solidified with the next two songs, “Fly From the Inside” and “Diamond Eyes.” The crowd was going nuts and the band was loving it.
Singer, Brent Smith, had Blue Cross Arena at his fingertips and could get the crowd to do anything. On top of that, the production that Shinedown had with them was ridiculous. The last few tours Shinedown has brought out the pyro, but nothing like this tour. Comparing Shinedown’s stage show to the legendary KISS, who just played at Blue Cross Arena just a few months ago, it was night and day. Shinedown did not leave anything at home this tour. The band did slow things down a bit with songs like “How Did You Love” and “State of My Head,” which are off of the bands latest album Threat to Survival.
The crowd got to be up close and personal with singer Smith while he went out into the crowd to sing from the back of the floor. That wasn’t the only time Brent went out there. During their last song, “Sound of Madness,” Smith ended up at the soundboard platform, surrounded by fireworks. As the song ended, Smith ran back to the stage to say thank you and goodnight to the crowd in Rochester. This was certainly a performance that won’t be forgotten by anyone that was there.
Things cooled down after Shinedown left the stage and got the crowd ready for the night’s headliner, Five Finger Death Punch. The band came out with their popular opening track, “Lift Me Up.” This is another band that has a ton of material now to make a setlist from, so it’s always exciting to see what the band will do each tour. The night was pretty balanced with tracks from American Capitalist, Got Your Six, The Wrong Side of Heaven and the Righteous Side of Hell, Vol. 1+2 and The Way of the Fist. The crowd interaction with Ivan Moody is always fantastic. At the beginning of the show, Moody was inviting fans to watch on stage, signing autographs and waving hello to whoever he could. While Moody was saying hello through his microphone, bassist Chris Kael and guitarists Zoltan Bathory and Jason Hook were throwing guitar picks at whoever they could.
Five Finger Death Punch is by far one of the most fan friendly bands out there. Halfway through their show, a fan was spotted with a sign that asked about playing guitar with them on stage for the song “Under and Over It.” Even though it wasn’t the song they were about to play, Moody invited the kid on stage. Hook gave the fan his guitar and Moody told him to play the intro to the song. The fan, Bathory and drummer Jeremy Spencer did a quick instrumental jam of the song and the kid nailed it. He was walking around stage like an absolute boss and got an arena full of cheers.
The band also slowed things down like Shinedown, with a few acoustic songs like “Wrong Side of Heaven” and “Remember Everything.” The night ended with “Under and Over It” and the encore anthem “The Bleeding.” This was once again another stellar show from Five Finger Death Punch, who seem to never take a break from the road and recording. Speaking of recording, at the show, Moody announced to the crowd that their new album was completed. Not to be confused with last year’s Got Your Six, Five Finger Death Punch is ready to drop another album. For fans, this means to be on the lookout for new singles, an album release date and more tour dates!