First off, let me start by saying that I knew this show was going to be amazing. What I didn’t know was how intense everything was going to be. I was already hyped at the fact that the show was at JQH Arena, a venue that I have never been to, so I was excited for a new experience.

Rain was in the forecast but given the fact that this is Missouri, rain turned into a torrential downfall, and also given the fact that this is Missouri, that did not make any difference to the fans who lined up early. Kudos to those who braved the elements in the name of rock.

I was given the task of escorting listeners to the Papa Roach meet & greet. Once everyone filtered through, I had the opportunity to meet the band although I met them 19 years ago through a mutual friend while they were touring for the Infest album. Papa Roach has always been a great group of guys and are always stoked to meet their fans. I love that about them. After the meet & greet was over, I went outside and noticed just how many people were waiting for the doors to open. The line was long, as far as I could see and it was then that I started to realize that this isn’t just a regular show. This is something more.

Savage After Midnight isn’t new to Springfield. They were here at The Riff with Memphis May Fire back in March and with that being a smaller venue, their energy was just barely contained there. I was really excited to see what they’d bring to the arena setting, however I missed my chance due to a slight issue at Will Call with my photo pass. It didn’t get straightened out until after their third song. So, Savage After Midnight, if you’re reading this… Sorry, guys! Next time, I promise!

Up next was Asking Alexandria. The cool thing here wasn’t just their performance, but how gracious they were to a particular fan. You may have to ask Baden for all the details on this one, but the gist here is that we helped make this guy’s night, and making people happy makes us all happy. I have seen Asking Alexandria several times and each time is more awesome than the next. The stage setup gets better and better but this time I noticed something. Danny Worsnop was wearing a suit. Now, wait, hear me out. I’m not trying to sound like some rabid cougar out on the prowl, but speaking from an artistic photography point of view; the contrast of your typical rock show versus something that’s clean cut and proper is super appealing to me. Think of it like something sweet and salty in one bite. You wouldn’t think they go together, but just wait until you see the pictures.

It was about this time when I started to feel everyone and everything in JQH Arena. The response to Asking Alexandria was wild. Everyone kept getting louder and space started to get smaller. Papa Roach was about to take the stage and I knew what was coming.

It has probably been about 12 years since I last saw Papa Roach. They played Remington’s Downtown and I remember Jacoby jumping off the stage, grabbing a trash can, throwing it across the floor and just rocking out with everyone in the pit. Papa Roach pours every ounce of themselves into each performance and every show is insane. They had the entire audience in their hands. Everyone was singing, bouncing and getting louder. When Jacoby jumped off the stage and ran around the arena, it felt like the place was going to explode, especially when the words “cut my life into pieces” came out of Jacoby’s mouth. Papa Roach absolutely murdered it. Whether you’re a fan or not, you have to admit that you wish you had the smallest amount of the energy that they have.

I looked around and saw nothing but happy people. From the floor all the way up to the ceiling, all the way up in the nosebleed seats. Springfield really turned out for this show.

And now for the main event. Shinedown.

The only time I saw Shinedown was at Rocklahoma this past May. Someone told me that they usually have pyro at their shows but for some reason they didn’t at Rocklahoma. Well, anyway… summer festival logistics aside, I got the fire this time. The only time I shot a show that had pyro was Slayer, but theirs was towards the back of the stage. Shinedown had some pyro set up towards the middle of the stage at a safe distance, of course. When that first blast went off, I had this mental image of explosions in movies and people jumping away from the force of the blast. I was kind of amazed at the amount of heat that myself and the whole front row at the rail felt. I couldn’t imagine how the band felt. hahahah I like to say that I have experienced all of the occupational hazards that come with concert photography: being spit on, kicked in the head, having drinks spilled over me, knocked to the ground, being squished in a pit where the crowd was pushing the barricade toward the stage… but being that close to fire was a new one for me.

I have a newfound love and respect for Shinedown. They genuinely care for their fans and it showed. Before the third song began, Brent wanted everyone in the audience to make friends with the person they’re standing next to. I take this time as he’s talking to adjust my camera settings and I notice though my lens that he’s motioning for me to come close to the stage. I thought that he wasn’t addressing me. No way. But as everyone in the audience is making new friends, Brent is also doing what he has asked everyone else to do. He takes my hand. Boom. Now we’re friends. After my three songs were up, it took me a while to fully understand what happened. This might be a little much for a blog post like this, but like Brent and a lot of other people in the world, I’ve been through some stuff in life. I struggle with depression and found ways to cope. One of my methods is to love the small things. They may be insignificant to some, but for someone who has always felt invisible, this brief moment in time felt amazing.

As the show goes on, I’m realizing that this was not like any other show. JQH Arena was alive. The place was packed and while looking around when everyone had their lighters and cell phone lights on, It was otherworldly to say the least. It was beautiful. Floor to ceiling. It felt like we were in a larger city like St. Louis or Kansas City. We have packed and sold out smaller venues with equal energy but the feeling of those shows did not compare to what Shinedown brought to Springfield. I think that they made everyone in that room feel loved, and maybe that’s what we all needed that night.