It was a scorching hot Wednesday evening down in the Ozarks, but that didn’t stop thousands coming down to Camdenton, Missouri, for a night of live rock music. Fans were excited walking up to the amphitheater and one person was jumping up and down, saying, “it’s my first real concert ever!”

The first performance for the night was Zero 9:36, an upcoming alternative rock band that’s been hitting the satellite radio waves on stations such as SiriusXM Octane. Right off the bat, vocalist Matthew “Zero” Cullen came out with an aggressive approach. Pacing back and forth, he grabbed the audience’s attention with his Eminem-like lyrical flow. Soon after, instrumentation layered in as hard hits on the toms and snare came into play, and heavy guitars followed.

Once all members were playing together, it was the perfect blend of this hip-hop influence on top of heavy melodic instrumentals. The drummer had an “in the pocket” style of playing that kept the rhythm in a groove, and one guitarist was pulling multiple duties as he took to guitar, keyboard, and sample pads with ease. Everyone had this energetic performance level, with songs such as ‘In My Hands’ that started off with every member jumping and landing on the beat, and you could feel the emotion being poured into the vocals. At the end of this one, the solid rhythm section laid a good foundation that helped the guitar solo shine through and end on a high note.

Crowd participation began as they clapped for the start of ‘W W Y D F,’ which turned into headbanging throughout the song. The vocals dabbled into some screams during the buildup towards the end, amplifying the intensity and giving the audience goosebumps. The performance ended with their latest hit, ‘Adrenaline,’ as the open chords on the guitars left enough room for the song to breathe while Cullen continued his switch between rapping and singing. The audience seemed to perceive them well as it was an impressive first act.

Next up was the Michigan-based band Pop Evil, and they came out with full force, immediately playing a crowd favorite ‘Deal With The Devil.’ The drums sat on an elevated platform with the band’s name written on the front, so they took advantage of using as much space as possible for their performance. The guitarists were jumping and spinning around while the vocalist Leigh Kakaty went back and forth to each side singing the chorus; the energy was already up another level for the night. He was impressed with the audience’s reaction and mentioned how great it was seeing kids at the show to introduce the younger generation to the importance of live music.

Purple haze filled the amphitheater as ‘Torn To Pieces’ played, filling the air with emotion. “No better feeling than hearing your fans— excuse me— your family sing your song back to you,” said Leigh. Afterwards, he asked for some crowd participation for the beginning of ‘Work,’ and he was blown away by how loud the audience was. Synchronization helped keep the momentum going as members headbanged and dropped guitars on the beat of the chorus. The set continued with more favorites, as the singer smiled back watching fans rock out during ‘Footsteps.’ While trying to be professional, members still found ways to have fun amongst themselves, as the guitarist placed his pick on the drummer’s cymbal and caught it when she hit it off.

‘Breathe Again’ brought on the anthem song for the year everyone just had. With the beefy guitar riff and double bass combination that kicked through the audience and drove the song, this one stood out during the set. Blake Allison from Devour The Day made a surprise appearance during ‘Trenches’ and brought some added screams at the end of some vocal lines for another element to the performance. ‘Waking Lions’ ended the set on a heavy note, and hands were in the air during the open melodic chorus. Kakaty climbed the background drum platform as the chorus lines “I want to stand up 100 feet tall” were sung into the crowd. On top of that, layered vocal lines from other members during the last chorus ended the performance with a chilling but brilliant execution.

Then it was time for what everyone had been waiting for, and Shinedown came out on quite an explosive beginning with small fireworks setting off on stage for ‘Cut the Cord.’ The high-intensity energy level was immediately prominent with both the guitarist and bassist jumping around, and the audience joined along with some headbanging. Vocalist Brent Smith welcomed the crowd to the show as he motioned for them to put their hands in the air for the next song, ‘Unity,’ which brought on an uplifting vibe. Throwbacks like ‘Fly To The Wall’ put the excitement of old fans to a new level, and a contrasting flowy atmosphere with ‘State Of My Head’ caught them swaying side to side through the whole song. Guitarist Zach Myers joked with Smith about accidentally forgetting the lyrics by speaking gibberish and saying, “My man’s over here said my name is Fred.”

Slower songs like ‘If You Only Knew’ brought couples together and hands filled with beer cans in the air. “Let’s take it back to the beginning because Missouri has been there since day one,” says Smith as fan-favorite ’45’ began. This was the loudest the crowd had sung yet as they were almost louder than the performance itself. One captivating detail was Smith’s percussive movements, and the extended outro brought all members surrounding the drums to pour their hearts out together. Crowd participation continued for ‘Save Me,’ and the high vocal notes soared above all. Hard floor tom hits and more fireworks changed the tone for ‘Diamond Eyes.’ The vocals stood out the most as all frontmen brought an element for an amazing performance. One consistency was Myers adding a heavier scream in some songs so far, but his extended one at the end of this one really added more emotion to it. ‘I’ll Follow You’ continued those beautiful layered vocal melodies with an added piano that bassist Eric Bass took over.

To pick up the pace, Smith demanded the crowd jump up and move around during ‘Enemies,’ and they all did just that with flames bursting into the air to turn the heat up. The heavier tone continues with ‘Devil’ to keep the energy up, and ‘How Did You Love’ reminds the audience to take every moment in with love. Smith afterwards says, “I try to focus on the show because if I get lost in any of your eyes, I get too emotional.” Everyone kept their cell phone lights up during the entirety of ‘Get Up,’ creating a remarkable moment. The audience also felt heat again as tall flames appeared again during Monsters, and they also felt Myers’ emotion as he pounded his chest and screamed his heart out. Heartfelt moments continued during ‘Second Chance’ and ‘Simple Man’ as the famous acoustic guitar parts began, and fans pointed up as “somewhere in the stratosphere” was sung into the air. To conclude the night, ‘Sound of Madness’ brought all of their energy and elements out one more time as flames and colorful fireworks lit up the amphitheater, along with a couple of thousand fists in the air.

Overall, the entire bill made for a solid rock show that would be memorable to fans, both new and old. Every band made use of trying to engage with the audience, and it was just as much the crowd’s show as it was for the performers. As Smith said it best, “it’s never goodbye; it’s until next time.”

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