This past Wednesday, on the last night of Dead Nation’s Daze of the Dead Music Festival, the Moda Center was filled with crazed and passionate fans hungry for the heavy metal thunder of Sixx:A.M., Shinedown and Five Finger Death Punch. With long lines, a general admission arena floor and four bands (including openers Just Lions), this concert was reminiscent of old-school rock shows. First up, rockers Sixx:A.M. wasted no time getting the crowd up on their feet with damn good, in-your-face rock and roll. Their performance was absolutely fantastic, with Nikki Sixx, DJ Ashba and James Michael lighting up the room with their soaring guitar solos and high-energy vocals.
Next up, Shinedown brought with them a legion of diehard fans and some great rock anthems. Their set was spectacular, full of flash pots, smoke, fire and a great mix of old and new songs. Frontman Brent Smith has an amazing talent for engaging the crowd, on this night shaking hands with everyone, including fans, photographers (myself included) and security during his introduction to “Diamond Eyes (Boom-Lay Boom-Lay Boom).” Smith’s passion for connecting with fans was especially evident at one point when he ran the entire length of the arena floor and back, bringing the energy level even higher, if that was possible. The last four songs of their set ("Second Chance," "Cut The Cord," "Simple Man" and "Sound Of Madness") were simply as good as it gets with a standout moment being Smith and guitarist Zach Myer’s acoustic performance of the Lynyrd Skynyrd classic “Simple Man,” made pure magic by the crowd’s singing along.
With a slight delay in sets as the crew changed out the stage and the Chicago Cubs won the World Series, the crowd was more than ready to go when the lights dimmed and co-headliners Five Finger Death Punch hit the stage. Launching into "Lift Me Up” from 2013’s The Wrong Side of Heaven and Righteous Side of Hell, Volume 1, the band tore into their 75-minute set, shaking the Moda Center to its core. The crowd interaction went above and beyond what was expected, with band members mugging for us photographers in the pit, and the spectacular lighting featuring some old-school laser lights. Set highlights included a stellar cover of “Bad Company” and an incendiary version of “Burn MF,” with band members inviting several of their younger fans (and a parent or two) onstage after a disclaimer to “move out of the pit if you don’t want to get hurt.” From there, it was on with the arena floor now transformed into one of the most intense, near-riot mosh pits this photographer has seen in some time. The short but intense set was an exercise in heart-pounding heavy metal, with singer Ivan Moody and the band interacting with the Moda Center fans after their set, showing their genuine appreciation for their fans and everyone who came out to the show.
To anyone who thinks rock music is dead, this show, with three heavy-hitting performances, proved otherwise.