Avalanche Tour 2011
Roy Wilkins Auditorium
St. Paul, Minnesota – March 26, 2011
By: Kasey Noll
On March 26, Roy Wilkins Auditorium in Saint Paul, Minnesota and 93X welcomed some of the biggest names of rock. Stone Sour, Theory of a Deadman, Skillet, Halestorm, and Art of Dying helped piece together the Avalanche Tour. Just like an avalanche, with its ever building energy and pace, the show was nothing short of powerful.
Opening the event was Art of Dying. This hard rock band from Canada knew how to start the night off strong. As the voice of Jonny Hetherington rang throughout the venue, fans had no choice but to leave the ground by jumping and screaming with their rock hands up. Art of Dying’s performance featured songs such as “Best I Can”, “Straight Across My Mind” and the first single off of their record, “Die Trying.” During their performance, the lights danced around and fans noticeably became energized as they were asked to sing along. The stage presence was intoxicating as Hetherington and guitarists Greg Bradley, Cale Gontier, and Tavis Stanley moved about the stage taking turns moving into the foreground. With Jeff Brown on drums giving life to their songs, Art of Dying’s power only continued to grow as they ended their set. With a performance like that, it is no doubt that they will headline a tour of this size someday.
The momentum continued as Halestorm took the stage. Despite the venue being 44,800 square feet, it still wasn’t nearly as big as Lzzy Hale’s vocals. The strength of her voice throughout the set didn’t waver one bit. Their entire performance was completely flawless. The energy, talent, and the fact that they really wanted to be on that stage was obvious. Performing songs such as “It’s Not You”, “I Get Off’ and “Dirty Work”, they provided the crowd with hits that will be stuck in their heads for weeks. With a full house, it was already hard to move, but with songs like this playing it became even harder to maneuver as fans moved about restlessly. With movement unmatched by any of the other bands, Halestorm’s members were on top of speakers, jumping, and walking along the entire span of the stage. Audience members were left wanting more after such an intense performance and Halestorm definitely made their native state of Pennsylvania proud. There’s no way this band will be stepping out of the spotlight anytime soon. With such provocative and emotionally charged lyrics, brilliant performing skills, and the almost unmatched female vocal strength Halestorm brings to the stage, it’s clear that fans just can’t get enough. Fans clearly wanted to interact with the band as Halestorm remained in the lobby throughout the entire next two bands’ sets to sign autographs and take photos. They really did make an impression.
Skillet, Skillet, Skillet. Where does one begin with this band? With the billowing pillars of steam-like effects and rising platform? Or with the combination of three very talented vocalists? Or maybe with the fact Skillet had the best selection of songs for their set? No matter how you look at it, where you start, or how you try to analyze it, the fact of the matter is that Skillet took Minnesota by storm. This Christian band from Tennessee kept the crowd’s energy up from the first song all the way to their set’s end. Skillet performed popular hits such as “Monster”, “Hero”, “Whispers In The Dark”, “Believe”, and more. Despite parting ways with Ben Kasica in February of this year and gaining their newest member Jonathan Salas the day the tour started, their set was seamless. Nothing sounded as if a line-up change had occurred. There were times when one would need to strain to hear the band due to the sheer number of fans singing along with lead vocalist, John Cooper. This only fueled the band’s energy. John and his wife Korey were standing on speakers, leaning back and forth over the steam pillars as they’d turn on and off. At one point, Korey even kneeled and laid back while playing. Meanwhile, drummer Jen Ledger would be smiling and doing her thing while winning the hearts of many as she also took up the microphone for “Hero”. It is not every day that music lovers are subject to a band that really can do anything they set their mind to. John, Korey, and Jen all have various vocal parts while playing their instruments and it’s only a matter of time until we see what Salas will bring to the table. As long as Skillet stays true to their roots and plays just as full heartedly as ever, there is no reason for us to not be hearing even better material from this group in the future.
Theory of a Deadman took the stage next. Starting off strong playing their popular pieces “All or Nothing” and “Not Meant To Be”, Theory knew how to get the crowd’s undivided attention. However, as the night progressed, something seemed a little off throughout the performance. The sound quality changed and Tyler Connolly’s vocals were almost lost. It seemed as though it wasn’t quite him at times. Once this sound issue became a little more recognized by the audience, it was if they picked up on the cue and sang even louder. Soon, it was a problem of the past and their set progressed successfully. Fans were leaning eagerly over the barricades and reaching towards band members as Tyler jammed with his old time microphone and slicked back hair that was reminiscent of musicians long past; he definitely brought a vintage flare to the tour and Theory of a Deadman has never looked better. Despite their technical difficulties, they were at the top of their game in energy and revving up the crowd. As guitar picks and drum sticks were tossed into the sea of audience members, it was only a matter of seconds before they disappeared, engulfed by a rising tide of fans trying to snatch them up. It was very clear that Minnesota loved Theory of a Deadman.
The headlining band Stone Sour took over where Theory of a Deadman left off and brought the finale to the Minnesota stop of the Avalanche Tour. Their set was very diverse. They played old songs, new songs, fast songs, and then ultra sentimental hits such as “Hesitate”. During “Hesitate”, the room was illuminated by lighters, cell phones, and even iPods. There was a certain togetherness that was present during Stone Sour’s performance that wasn’t quite as strong during the other sets. There were more people singing, swaying, and just altogether in the room. Not many were roaming around in the lobby near the merchandise tables during Stone Sour’s set. The venue was completely packed and full of life. Corey Taylor kept audience members’ eyes on him at all times. Throughout the night, he would climb on the outward most speaker trying to be just a couple inches closer to their fans as he would sing. Next thing you know, he would be on the opposite side of the stage spraying his water out into the crowd or leaning over the front of the stage reaching out to everyone. Even more present than his ability to move was his sense of humor. Taylor would introduce various parts of the show in different ways, for instance his introduction to their set resembled that of a professional wrestling match with something along the lines of “let’s get ready to…” Needless to say, everyone was able to walk away with something a little different from each performance. Taylor told fans, “We are all from Minnesota tonight and we are all family”. That concept of family and the relationship between musician and fan was very eminent. Stone Sour, native to Iowa, held up the old saying about the Midwest and its charm. There’s no question about it; Stone Sour is a crowd pleaser. With vocals such as Taylor’s, and also guitarists and a drummer with that much talent, Stone Sour could pull off any style they wanted to try. Even while maintaining their own individual side projects, these men will be making music as long as they are able. With passion as strong as theirs. It is no wonder they managed to fill Roy Wilkins Auditorium.
As the Avalanche Tour progresses, these bands will continue to please fans across the nation, so much so that one might wonder who could they possibly bring in to try to top a show like this? With a line-up such as Stone Sour, Theory of a Deadman, Skillet, Halestorm, and Art of Dying, it will be pretty tough. It only makes the anticipation that much greater for the Avalanche Tour in 2012.
For more information on The Avalanche Tour visit: http://avalanchetour.com/