Lzzy Hale shrieked that “I like to crank it up, make it thump” during a rendition of her band’s “I Like It Heavy” on Friday night at Starlight Theatre. The vigorous response made it clear that the members of the capacity audience of 8,000 shared her passion for weighty hard rock.
The turnout for Hale’s band, Halestorm, and for Shinedown and Black Stone Cherry was another impressive demonstration of Kansas City’s enormous appetite for good-time rock ’n’ roll.
Aside from its predilection for grunge, Shinedown’s blend of heartfelt power ballads and melodic hard rock songs is squarely in the tradition of 1970s bands such as REO Speedwagon and Styx. The quartet from Florida seemed unremarkable when its debut album was released in 2003. Yet bolstered by frontman Brent Smith’s knack for writing alluring songs, Shinedown has become one of the most prominent hard rock bands of recent years. The group headlined Rockfest at Penn Valley Park in 2012.
Shinedown’s 90-minute set included fiery metal, a dance-friendly reading of “State of My Head” and pared-down covers of Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Simple Man” and Radiohead’s “Creep.” The ballad “Call Me” and the mid-tempo “Second Chance” inspired massive sing-alongs. Shinedown’s straightforward renditions of the tender material were among the evening’s highlights.
While the sound was excellent, the production was underwhelming. Shinedown’s melodramatic rock demands correspondingly colorful augmentation. The absence of video and the lack of pyrotechnics was disappointing.
The incessant stunts of drummer Arejay Hale and the robust vocals of his big sister, Lzzy, made additional visual effects less necessary for Halestorm. Versions of the Pennsylvania band’s sexually charged songs like the lurid “I Get Off” and the Motorhead-inspired “Love Bites (So Do I)” have been honed by years of steady touring. Even Arejay’s four-minute drum solo was entertaining.
Black Stone Cherry opened the show with a set of metal-coated Southern rock. The Kentucky band roared like the overheated engine of a race car as it played the rugged “Soul Machine” and the playful “White Trash Millionaire.”
“How many times has rock ’n’ roll been there when you need it most?” Shinedown’s Smith asked near the end of the evening.
While Friday’s show wasn’t particularly extraordinary, members of the audience seeking musical redemption or inspiration likely found what they were looking for at Starlight Theatre.
Bill Brownlee: @happyinbag
Shinedown: Adrenaline; Fly From the Inside; Diamond Eyes (Boom-Lay Boom-Lay Boom); If You Only Knew; Devour; How Did You Love; Enemies; Call Me; Creep; I’ll Follow You; 45; State of My Head; Second Chance; Cut the Cord; Simple Man; Sound of Madness
Halestorm: Love Bites (So Do I); Mz. Hyde; Apocalyptic; Amen; I Like It Heavy; I Am the Fire; I Get Off; Freak Like Me; Mayhem; I Miss the Misery
Black Stone Cherry: Me and Mary Jane; Blind Man; In My Blood; Soul Machine; In Our Dreams; White Trash Millionaire; Blame It On the Boom Boom; Lonely Train