The View from the Pit: Review of Carnival of Madness

The things that dreams and nightmares are made of.

The Carnival of Madness from gate to stage creates an environment of spectacle and wonderment, preparing you for one of the most impressive shows of the summer. Before even crossing through the gates at Riverbend performers in outstanding Victorian garb grab your attention and do a damn fine job of keeping. With the crack of whips, howlers and props that leave you questioning your own senses you are pulled into this unique atmosphere.

Once you make it past the enthralling entertainers the assault on your senses begins with the sound of We As Human. Taking cues from Skillet, We As Human has managed to bridge the Christian rock gap and has taken their sound mainstream. Once you hear this relatively young group you know why. If you care about good music you won't care that We As Human takes their inspiration from a more divine source but be entertained by a solid performance. Hitting their stride early We As Human has a solid tempo and sound that draws your attention and an on stage presence that leaves you fully entertained. What seems to be a stage show above gimmicks and characters their balanced sound and performance that prepares you for the experience that is to come, which is one hell of a site and sound.

With white iron gates and a center stage statue that resembles something of Pompeii you know you're in for a show. As the sound wave starts, the spectacle begins with a set of barely clothed, white masked dancers emerging from the sides of stage gracefully making their way to the alter, alluring and yet creating an unnerving atmosphere, my attention they have. A mix of ecstasy, eroticism and curiosity begins to set in as Maria Brink takes her place as the center of attention, flanked by her masked beauties and monsters that make up the rest of the band; you’re not just sucked into the performance but taken and tied down. For those that haven't heard At This Moment you are missing something, but for those who haven't experienced an At This Moment show I now truly pity. A handful of still images and these few words cannot properly convey what it is that is created. Stage pieces, incredible lighting, dancers that move as if possessed by the incredible dynamic sounds and band members that are masters of transformation and presence immediately draw you into a world of their own creation. Throughout the show you are pulled to the performance of Maria Brink at center stage, as if a siren luring you to your eventually demise, her command of the stage is incredible. More than just performing her music she becomes its physical embodiment along with her fellow band mates, you're not watching a band perform but instead a single collective, a choreographed harmonious entity. Their performance leaves you wanting more but completely spent having witnessed a truly mesmerizing display and a sound that is gripping and enticing leaving you in a state of awe.

Coming down from incredible display put on by At This Moment you are caught up by the high energy and at times high octane performance that Skillet puts on. Skillet takes the stage nearly empty, a minimalist approach that allowed them to move and explore with energy and reverenced that is reflected in their sound. Quickly you see and hear why Skillet has been so successful in gaining and maintaining their mainstream acceptance for being at their core, a Christian rock band. With a mix of harmony, unique sounds and the energy of front man John Cooper, Skillet is the embodiment of chemistry creating a pure rush of sound that will keep you on your feet. The highlight of the performance is the high line fire dance that is without a doubt one of the most impressive set performances that underlines the bands show, sound and message.

And the show goes on and the energy gets higher as the venerable Papa Roach doesn't just takes the stage but makes it there’s. Starting at full speed front man Shaddix feeds off the energy of the already amped crowd as he dives off stage and turns the whole pit into his own stage. Running off their best hits the group hits their stride early and continued to pour on their refined and unique sound that is the improved Papa Roach. Never missing beat, loosing tempo or faltering throughout the entire set Papa Roach does one thing and does is it well, rock the fucking house. There isn't much that can be said for a band that can so consistently deliver and entertain where you can just witness and be enveloped in damn good music and one hell of good show.

The curtain descends; a night of incredible sights and sounds has led up to this moment. Passionately we wait, the black curtain taunting with the display it hides. To say the Shinedown takes the stage with a bang would sell the start of their performance short. Suddenly there’s an eruption of sound and fire as the curtain falls to the ground, your eyes and ears and slammed before you can even process all that is thrown at you. High intensity doesn't begin to describe the sensory overload that Shinedown has created, the stage set a blaze, alive with performers swinging, twirling and twisting fire, it’s as if they’re sucking the air out the pavilion and creating a vacuum sucking you in. Once the first song has ended the ring master himself takes control, introducing the crowd to itself and pulling you into the world of their creation. The intensity and rush continues as the power of the music and sheer verbosity of the pace and performance enthralls your senses. The site and sound that is uniquely Shinedown explodes in towers of fire and light as what was once a simple stage is transformed into living thing. As if hypnotized by the truly impressive sound and controlled by the ringmaster and his performers, reality seems to bend. No longer do you feel as if you're on the banks of the Ohio but instead it's as if you've been transported to the twisted big top playground of madmen that makes up what is, the Carnival of Madness. Shinedown does not disappoint as they live up to being the masters at this madness.

Check the photo album from the show HERE.