Splice Magazine

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Five Finger Death Punch, Three Days Grace, Bad Wolves and Fire From The Gods Come To Hertz Arena

Estero, Florida (November 16, 2019) – If there ever was a band that was built for the arena experience, it’s Five Finger Death Punch. Between their larger-than-life name and the personalities of the band members, no club or hall could possibly contain a band this huge! It isn’t just their over the top stage show that thrills their fans, affectionately called “Knuckleheads”; it’s also their killer songs that keep them coming back for more. When Five Finger Death Punch hits the road, those very same Knuckleheads come out in droves to see their very favorite band. So, it was no surprise that Hertz Arena in Estero, FL was filled to the max with their passionate fans. On this tour, the night is truly packed with great bands. Not only did the fans get to see a great up-and-coming bands, Bad Wolves, Fire From The Gods, but also established hit machine, Three Days Grace.

At 5pm sharp the doors to Hertz Arena opened and throngs of people teemed through to either get merch for their favorite band or to get to the front of the floor to grab a coveted spot at the rail. No matter the case, the arena filled quickly. So, when the lights dimmed for an action packed night of music to begin, there were plenty of people cheering when Fire From The Gods took the stage.

As the band came out to a simple setup lit with blue and white lights, bassist Banner Baker was spinning about while holding his instrument while the band launched into their first song. Singer AJ Channer was a force to reckoned with throughout their performance. He delivered the lyrics to their songs with power and passion. As there were four bands performing on this night, Fire From The Gods had the shortest time on stage playing for just 30 minutes. But they made the most of their time, and included their current hit song “Right Now” from their new album, American Sun.

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Proudly hailing from Los Angeles, CA, Bad Wolves was up next. While they have only been around for a short time, they have quickly developed a reputation for visceral potent shows and tonight’s performance would only further cement that reputation. When all the members of the band arrived on stage, lead singer Tommy Vext walked up on the drum riser and the band broke into “No Messiah” from their latest album N.A.T.I.O.N. Just barely into the first verse Vext proceeded to launch off the riser in a mammoth leap catching huge air, all while singing. The rest of the band was on fire, too! Guitarists Chris Cain and Doc Coyle were both churning out killer riffs, while drummer John Boecklin and bassist Kyle Konkiel held up their end of the performance. What a way to kick things off!

They stayed with another release from their new album with “Foe Or Friend”. After two back-to-back songs off their latest album, you knew this release is a double-barreled blast of heaviness. One of the most poignant moments of the entire evening came when they played “Remember When”, a song about how his relationship with his brother deteriorated through bad life choices. During Vext’s introduction he talked about suicide and how we need to be there to help each other. The he launched into a passionate version of the song. At times during the performance he was leading the crowd in singing the chorus, which they willingly joined in loud and proud. At the end, you could tell that this song took an emotional toll him as he was bent over and holding back the emotions so he could continue the show.

Their new release N.A.T.I.O.N. has a track that that is arena ready, and when they launched into “Killing Me Slowly”. Vext worked the stage like the consummate pro that he is, while Cain and Konkiel were head-banging with their hair flying all over the place. During the oh-so-catchy chorus Vext was leading the crowd in arm waving that you couldn’t help but join in on. They ended their part of the show with the song that launched them to fame, a rousing version of The Cranberries hit, “Zombie”.

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When a band has as many hits as Three Days Grace hits the stage, you can bet that they will have the crowd in the palm of their hands. With the stage setup with video screens made to look like speaker cabinets all along the back of the stage and drummer Neil Sanderson’s kit setup on top of them. When he came out to his kit, he was greeted by cheers from everyone in the arena. Then guitarist Barry Stock, bassist Brad Walst and his brother, the lead singer, Matt Walst, all joined Sanderson on stage. They promptly launched into one of their many number one hits, “The Mountain”. It’s hard not to please a crowd, when you kick off a show with a great song that is super catchy and gets everyone singing along right from the get-go!

Digging back into their earlier catalog, once again they played yet another hit with “Home”. With Stocks unique guitar intro riff leading the way, Walst took over with his singing duties. While this song was created with the bands previous lead singer, Walst definitely put his own stamp on the song. His energy was boundless. Whether he was connecting with fans or leading the arena crowd in “Three Days Grace” chants, he was the consummate front man.

As Three Days Grace isn’t the main band on this tour, their time is limited. So instead of talking in between songs, the band kept things tight, so they were able to thrill the crowd with all their hit songs. Next up, you knew what song the band was going to play, as the video screens on either side of the drum kit was flashing “The Good Life”. This time around Walst was playing guitar too. What a great job he did keeping up with Stock; which is no mean feat as Stock is a master at his craft. Throughout their performance, they used those very same monitors to add to their songs. When they played “Pain”, of course there was the word “Pain” emblazoned across them in a stylized fashion. During their performance of “Animal I Have Become”, there was a silhouette of a lion walking across them. On the last song of their ten song set, the lights dimmed, and Walst pulled off his jacket as sirens started blaring. He then got the crowd to start chanting “Riot”, then said “show us what your made of and start a mosh pit” then they broke into a rip roaring version of “Riot”. As the song was nearing the end and Walst went to the top riser and perfectly timed a monster leap off of there on the last note of the song. A perfect ending to a high energy performance!!

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During the changeover, a giant curtain was dropped covering the stage. No one knew what to expect, other than kick ass music was coming their way very soon. The nervous energy was palpable throughout the arena. When it was finally go time, lasers started to paint the curtain with drawing of brass knuckles and the letters FFDP on it. When the curtain dropped from the rafters their was Ivan Moody center stage looking out at the crowd with a big smile on his face and the band playing the opening bars of “Lift Me Up”. Just before the singing was to start a huge bang went off setting the tone for the night. This was going to be one high octane show!  Both “Trouble” and “Wash It All Away” were when the pyro came out to play. With flames shooting out from all over the place, not only could you feel the heat from all the pyro, but you could feel the heat from the band as well. Five Finger Death Punch were definitely bringing their A-game to their fans tonight.

With plenty of real estate to roam on stage, Moody could go nearly from side to side of the arena to engage fans. During one of the moments as he walked towards one side, he told fans that he wasn’t in a good mood that night. You could feel a collective “uh-oh, this isn’t good” go through the crowd. But he quickly followed it up with a “I’m in a f*cking great mood!” while sporting a huge smile, causing the packed arena to cheer wildly. Under a backdrop of red light with a sea of small spotlights swirling all over the stage, they broke into “Sham Pain”. When Moody was singing the chorus, he would turn the mic to the crowd, and everyone would sing “it’s all Sham Pain” perfectly on cue as Moody would smile and give a thumbs up. Three quarters of the way through the song, the confetti canons were shot off and it was raining a mix of confetti and Five Finger Death Punch funny money throughout Hertz Arena.

As things quieted down, Moody started talking to the crowd. He reminded everyone that the previous week our country celebrated Veteran’s Day, which he said that is a true American holiday. He related a story about why he doesn’t offer his opinion on politics. He let everyone know his answer, he said “because in this country, we are allowed to think for ourselves. So, what kind of person would I be to push my beliefs on all you beautiful Americans. I want you to feel safe here. Because at a Five Finger Death Punch show it doesn’t matter if you’re red or blue. Because at a Five Finger Death Punch show, we are all bad company”, and with that they launched into “Bad Company” to the monstrous cheers of the crowd. The crowd was singing along so loudly, you could barely hear the band. Bassist Chris Kael got in on the action, too, screaming “how we doing tonight, Florida?! So tonight, if you are going through a hard time or coming out to celebrate, one thing you’ll know we’ve Got Your Six!” and of course they broke into that song. With his trademark dread-locked beard flying all over the place, Kael took over singing the song. With Moody and him trading lyrics throughout the song everyone was having a rip-roaring time.

Now it was time to slow things down. Most of the band left the stage except for Moody, and guitarist, Jason Hook. Pulling out a stool and an acoustic guitar he warmed up a bit by playing a lick from the classic Lynyrd Skynyrd song “Sweet Home Alabama” to which Moody started dancing and said “I bet you didn’t think I could do that” while chuckling.

A tradition at a FFDP show is the band brings kids on stage to celebrate the future of rock. But this time around, Moody said they couldn’t because of all the fire and things going bang and he didn’t want anyone to get hurt. So had something new he was going to do, then he started throwing out bags of candy out into the crowd. When he ran out, he said “that’s what it’s like at my house at Halloween!” As the laughter died down, Moody and Hook played a beautiful version of “Wrong Side Of Heaven”. As the band was playing a rousing version of “Coming Down” the lights dimmed, and the front of Hooks guitar lit up and as the house lights came up, he played a blistering solo while the section of stage he was standing on rose up above the stage. Afterwards, Moody walked over to that section of the stage jumped up and down on it and said” so that’s what that does! I’m just a singer I don’t get one of those”, while laughing.

For those that were looking at guitarist Zoltan Bathony, you noticed he was wasn’t moving too much. At some point, he had injured his foot and was in a walking boot. Moody addressed this by saying “at some point in time he was going to tell the truth as to how it happened, but you won’t know if he is telling the truth or lying“. Tonight, he told the crowd Bathony did it “bungee jumping out of a Fiat” while laughing.

Sadly, for the band drummer Jeremy Spencer had to leave the band due to back injuries. During “Burn MF” new drummer Charlie Engen had his chance to show that he is a worthy replacement with a killer drum solo. With pyro going full tilt along with the confetti canons right from the get-go, the last song of the night was “The Bleeding”, which not only sounded spectacular, but the red lighting and the pyro took it to a completely different level!

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Just being able to see any of these four bands is a treat. But, getting to see them together in one place, now that is an experience. Five Finger Death Punch and Three Days Grace definitely delivered the goods with their awesome performances and big catalogs of crowd-pleasing hit songs. While Bad Wolves and Fire From The Gods got to show everyone that the future of rock music is going to be in great hands. Because it’s so rare to get four bands of this caliber under one roof, this is definitely a tour that is worth catching when it comes to town!