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River Summer Concert Series: Stone Sour, From Ashes to New, Shim, Gemini Syndrome, Arson City

River Summer Concert Series
Stone Sour, From Ashes to New, Shim, Gemini Syndrome, Arson City
August 25th, 2018
Westfair Amphitheatre
Council Bluffs, Iowa

If there’s one thing KIWR knows how to do, it’s throw a damn good party. For the radio station’s latest installment of their Summer Concert Series, brought back the bands that their listeners had been begging for.
While adulting caused me to miss the opening ceremony, I arrived just in time to catch Omaha’s local heroes Arson City. Formed out of the ashes of several other local Omaha bands, Arson City have proven that hard work and determination do pay off. They’ve toured the country since their 2014 debut and continue to raise the perceptive bar on what it means to be a rock band. I guarantee you will not be disappointed seeing these guys live.
Today’s performance was more of a make-up for not having performed earlier this summer and the first Summer Concert Series, and the band didn’t pull any punches. Smashing through a solid 45 minute set, Arson City were the perfect choice to entice the crowd to rock and set the tone for today’s line-up.  I’ve only had the chance to catch these guys a handful of times since 2014, but theirs is most definitely not a set to be missed.
Alt-rockers Gemini Syndrome have toured through the Omaha metro area annually since their 2013 debut tour with David “Disturbed” Draiman’s now defunct industrial side project Device.  I’ve been a fan of vocalist and founder Aaron Nordstrom since his touring days as guitarist for art-rocker and political  advocate Otep. The several times that I’d met Nordstrom, there was always an intimidating intellectual side to the man, yet he was always humble and friendly. Nordstrom’s stage presence though is demanding. Gemini Syndrome’s live shows, or demonstrations are equal parts thought provoking and bombastic. The recent addition of Coal Chamber’s Meegs Rascón cements a whole new level of professionalism to their already energetic line-up.
The band focused the majority of their 9 song set on tracks from their sophomore release, Momento Mori. Whether its in front of an intimate crowd or several thousand screaming fans, Gemini Syndrome’s live show is a force to be reckoned with.
While the next artist to play may have officially debuted his live set at 2018’s Rock on the Range, Shim Moore’s real debut would be where it all truly began for him. Sick Puppies broke onto the scene in 2007, shortly after their Omaha debut. Since then, Shim has played the Omaha Metro Area over a dozen times, selling out nearly each show his former band was part of and his solo acoustic show in 2014. While I had heard that Rock on the Range performance was the “it” set to see, I had to see him live and solo for myself before passing judgement on him. Hands down, Shim’s performance was my favorite of the day. This man has lost none of his charismatic presence and for nearly an hour proved that he continues to evolve as an artist.
Opening like an atomic bomb with A Brand New War, Shim’s 12 song set was an even mixture of his solo material and Sick Puppies’ cuts, and these songs blended together perfectly. Moore seemed to be incredibly comfortable and at ease on stage, and the crowd was loving every minute of his performance. Omaha and Council Bluffs love Shim and had sorely missed him.
Moore addressed the crowd several times during his set, the most poignant being his new outlook on the meaning behind some of the Sick Puppies tracks he played.
“These past few years,” he told the crowd before playing Maybe, “I’ve been reading your posts and emails about how much these Sick Puppies songs mean to all of you. Having gone through what I did when I left the band, these songs have taken on a whole new meaning now than when I wrote them.”
Fans sang along loudly to their favorite Sick Puppies cuts, and harmonized better than expected to Shim’s new music, most of which very few people had heard before today. To close a perfect set, Shim live premiered All of Me off of his upcoming solo debut album, then headed to his merch table and spent the next two hours meeting fans, signing autographs and taking photos. It’s rare to find an artist who’s so in tune with their fans and who genuinely appeared to enjoy meeting everyone who wanted to say hello. Keep your eyes and ears on this guy. I guarantee this solo career will eclipse his previous endeavors.
Following Shim’s high energy set, From Ashes to New took the already high momentum of the day and pushed it to the limits. Today’s performance would be my first time seeing the band without founding member and vocalist Chris Musser. I had no doubt that their set wouldn’t be as brutal as the previous times that I’d seen them, but it’s always interesting for me to see how a band shifts when members leave, especially when its a vocalists and leaves the band with only 1 original member.
Put your doubts away. These guys still rock. Their set focused heavily on tracks from their recently released sophomore album, The Future. Danny Case’s vocals mixed perfectly with Matt Brandyberry, and the two really played off not only each other’s energy but the crowd’s energy as well. For me, the highlight of their set was a stunning cover of Linkin Park’s Heavy / Papercut, dedicated to the memory of the late Chester Bennington.
The sun had fully set before Stone Sour’s stage lights finally kicked in, marking the band’s return to the lower 48 after finally playing their first show in Alaska. Touring in support of their latest album, the Hydrograd tour has become the band’s longest running tour to date. And why shouldn’t it be? As a band, Stone Sour are approaching their 20th anniversary. The band’s founders, vocalist Corey Taylor and guitarist Josh Rand, along with drummer Ray Mayorga, Bassist Johny Chow, and guitarist Christian Martucci are still putting on some of the heaviest rocks shows.
For nearly an hour and a half, Stone Sour thrashed a seething crowd that was starving for an authentic rock show. The band’s 15 song set, focusing on material from their current release, was packed with their heaviest tracks.
It wouldn’t be a Stone Sour concert without a bit of humor, and music lesson though. Before shifting into “Knievel Has Landed,” Taylor thanked the crowd for showing up and for the warmer weather.
“We just got back from Alaska. Let me tell you, it’s cold as fuck up there. It’s good to be back in the Iowa heat, and to sleep in my own bed. You know I drove here tonight, right? Took me an hour and 20 minutes. That’s got to be a record, but I’m aiming for an hour and 10 minutes when I leave here tonight.”
After a massive mid-set sing-along for “Bother,” Taylor reminded us all that rock is far from dead.
“Even though radio is controlled by Top 40 and pop like Kanye, and T-Swift, you are all here tonight to prove that rock is not dead. It is alive and well and thriving.”
And he’s not wrong. Because of Taylor and Rand’s passion for crafting authentic rock and metal music, the band’s following has grown over the past two decades. It was amazing to see an incredibly diverse crowd. Old fans. New fans. Fans who had brought their kids, and kids who were their parents.
Tonight’s show would mark my 15th time seeing the band since 2001, and this band only gets better with age. Members have come and gone, and these men have faced their fair share of problems, yet through it all they persist and continue to put on one helluva rock show. Whether its in front of a thousand people, or twenty thousand, a Stone Sour concert is a night you will soon not forget.

Click the artists name for their individual setlists:
SHIM
Stone Sour
From Ashes to New
Gemini Syndrome

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