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The Great Godsmack Do-Over

One of the only silver linings of the pandemic era was that there was no chance of having to miss a show because it was booked on the same day as another one that you wanted to attend.

So when two of my long-time favorites, Cold and Godsmack, were both booked in Michigan on the same day recently, I knew I had a tough choice to make.

On the one hand, Cold was the very first even remotely heavy band I ever got into when I was young, and they were booked to play at the Machine Shop, my favorite venue. On top of that, they were also celebrating the 20-year anniversary of their album “Year of the Spider,” which is a huge milestone.

On the other hand, I haven’t seen Godsmack in over 10 years, and the band has recently announced they’re only going to tour from here on out.

Ultimately, I decided to go to Godsmack based on a few outstanding factors:

  1. I’ve been blessed to see Cold twice in the last few years, both of which were at the Machine Shop in Flint, and three times in my life total. This is already a big deal considering all three of those were after they’d broken up and gotten back together. Additionally, I’ve seen most of Year of the Spider performed live already.

  2. I’ve only seen Godsmack twice, again with the last time being over a decade ago, and wanted to see them at least one more time.

  3. Most importantly, I needed a do-over after the last time I saw Godsmack in 2012 at the Soaring Eagle Casino with Shinedown, which is where they’d be playing this time too.

Not that Godsmack was bad at that last show or anything, but it was a weird and borderline bad experience, and I didn’t want my last memory of the band to be that particular one.

That’s what I’m here to do now - not to write a professional article, but to share a funny story with a great outcome.

July 21, 2012

It ended up being one of the weirdest days of my life, so we’ll start at the beginning.

Picture this scenario:

I’m living in Mount Pleasant, Michigan, it's the summer of 2012, and Godsmack and Shinedown are playing at the Soaring Eagle Casino later that night. I’ve just recently graduated from high school and am trying to live my best life. The concert has been on the horizon for a while now and I’m planning on meeting some ladyfriends there.

I’m really excited for my second time seeing Godsmack, being a long-time favorite and all, and I haven’t seen Shinedown in concert yet.

Ahead of the show, Shinedown announces that they’re going to be doing a Meet-and-Greet with an album signing in town, and all you have to do to get in is buy a copy of The Sound of Madness.

This isn’t their latest album by this point (Amaryllis has already been out for a few months), but whatever, right? It’s a chance to meet Shinedown. That doesn’t happen every day.

The thing is, the signing is taking place at the local Walmart, which is about as random as it gets.

So I go to Walmart with a friend and get in line. In front of us was a bride and groom who had apparently just gotten married earlier that day, still in a tuxedo and dress. Shinedown didn’t even have their own people organizing this thing, it was up to the day-shift Walmart employees to direct fans and maintain order.

At some point, my friend had some kind of argument with the employee running the line. I didn’t hear exactly what was said, but when I turned around he was walking away. I texted him and asked what happened, and he simply replied “The lady pissed me off, so I left.”

That leaves me in line with the bride and groom.

The groom starts talking to me about all these Illuminati conspiracy theories, going on about shadow organizations and how everything is controlled by the New World Order. He even goes as far as to point out the Walmart logo in the aisles, explaining how the Illuminati logo is hidden inside of it.

This makes absolutely no sense, but I just smile and nod, hoping the line will start moving, or he’ll stop talking to me. Neither one of them happens quickly enough.

That’s one thing you need to understand about me at that point in my life - I used to have a problem with being WAY too polite all the time, not being even remotely confrontational or anything when I needed to be, and not saying “no” when I should have. And when I was confrontational, it was usually over something stupid, and totally unwarranted on my end.

I should have told him I wasn’t interested in hearing any of this, but I didn’t. I learned way too late that if you just smile and nod, most people won’t take that as a hint to stop talking.

This bad habit would end up biting me in the ass twice in the same day.

But really, I also thought he was just fucking with me, and it was his way of killing time before the signing.

So after enduring countless conspiracies, each one more outlandish than the last, the signing finally begins and the line starts moving.

Turns out, he wasn’t fucking with me at all, because when he met singer Brent Smith, he asked him point-blank if it’s “true that the Illuminati controls the music industry.”

Smith looked taken aback for a fraction of a second before good-naturedly replying, “Uh, well, if they do, they didn’t tell me anything about it!”

[Lowkey, maybe he was thinking, “shit, he’s onto us!”]

I got my copy of The Sound of Madness signed, and the band was very nice, but I left feeling really weird about the whole situation, and slightly irritated that my friend left me in it.

But whatever, the show will be awesome, right?

And it was.

Shinedown gave a great performance, and Brent Smith was an outstanding vocalist. I remember thinking, “Oh yeah, Shinedown will be cool,” but it ended up being way better than expected.

Not that I thought they were gonna be bad or anything, but it was a matter of not knowing how good the live show would actually be.

Since to this day I hear them on the radio so often, it can often be easy to take a band like that for granted, until they’re right in front of you, and you’re reminded why they’re so popular in the first place.

This whole time, I’m on the hill with three ladyfriends from school, one of which graduated with me, who moves to a different spot after a certain point. That leaves me with the two who haven’t escaped high school yet.

At some point before Godsmack comes on, these two textbook high school fuckboys from Clare, a town north of Mount Pleasant, ended up next to us for whatever reason.

And they wouldn’t. Shut. Up.

They literally just talked and talked through the entire show, trying really hard to be slick, and it was really hard to ignore them because they were actually talking OVER the music. They’d clearly never been to a concert before, and they said as much.

But, instead of telling them to shut the fuck up, and that I came here to see Godsmack, not listen to their bullshit, or better yet just walking away and moving to a different spot, I didn’t.

I just smiled and nodded and did my best to ignore them, but they didn’t take any hints, just like the guy from earlier.

None of that has to do with Godsmack, of course - they were onstage SELLING it, and the performance itself was awesome as always. But it was derailed on my end by the fact that I was standing next to these two idiots who wouldn’t shut up.

I should have just walked away - I arrived alone, there was nothing stopping me from going to a different spot. But I didn’t want to leave the girls alone with these two either, and one would later tell me she was glad I didn’t.

We knew what they were up to.

The worst part is that when Godsmack got to “Voodoo,” their most well-known song, one of them yelled out, “OH WAIT I ACTUALLY DO KNOW THIS SONG!!”

Meaning they didn’t even know WHO they were there to see that night. I remember thinking that their parents were probably inside playing poker and just turned them loose at the show.

You could say that exposure in any form is always good, or that it was cool of their parents to buy them tickets, but they could have taught them some basic etiquette while they were at it.

For instance, don’t talk the ears of complete strangers off during a ROCK CONCERT. I’ve since looked back at the setlist of that show, and there are songs I don’t even remember being played because of the situation (including “Keep Away,” my personal favorite).

When the show wrapped up, I didn’t feel the usual elatement, I was just relieved to get away.

One of the boys was lucky enough to get a hug from one of the girls, who was just being nice.

But the kicker is that not long after this, she would run into him in public, and it turned out he had a girlfriend the WHOLE TIME.

She told me that he tried really hard to pretend like he didn’t know who she was.

A scenario worthy of the late, great Jerry Springer himself. I can hear the opening monologue now -

“My guests today say the power of live music brought them together, but one of them has been playing two fiddles! Susie, what’s going on?”

Fast Forward - Friday, May 26, 2023

For obvious reasons, you can now understand why I didn’t want my last memory of Godsmack to be that one, so I felt confident making the decision to see Godsmack over Cold.

My gut agreed.

I swore to my partner that if anything stupid like this happened this time, we would move no matter what, but I’m thrilled to say that it didn’t.

We had a perfect view, plenty of space (despite the show being packed), and nobody bothered us.

Godsmack has had plenty of time to perfect their craft, and it really doesn’t get much more rock 'n' roll than Sully Erna and company. It was all there - the stage presence, the humor, and the production, which included UFO-type lights, pyrotechnics and the infamous drum duel.

It also reminded me how impressive a performer Erna actually is - he plays the drums, guitar and piano effortlessly, on top of being a fantastic live singer, even while suffering a chest cold (which he unnecessarily noted).

Throw in all the charisma, and you have a bona fide rock band frontman.

During the encore, the band touted a special guest in the house, which turned out to be Brad Whitford of Aerosmith fame. Whitford joined them for a cover of Dream On, along with Come Together by the Beatles.

That’ll probably NEVER happen again!

There’s not much else to say here, other than the fact that the show was great and I’m glad I went. However, the last kicker is that, in 2012, it took me over an hour to get out of the parking lot because I used the regular casino lot, rather than the garage or event space.

I gave up after a while and just sat on my trunk waiting for traffic to thin out.

But this time, I used the garage and was on the road in ten minutes or less.

In other words, a perfect do-over!


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