BTS: When Your Favorite Band Is Just As Cool In Person As You Imagine They Would Be
Let me begin my acknowledging how extremely lucky I am to work in radio, and have the incredible opportunity to meet so many artists and bands on a regular basis.
With that in mind, it is still very nerve-racking, even after nearly 20-years in the radio business, getting up close and personal with bands and musicians, because you never know what you're going to get.
At the end of September I had the opportunity of a lifetime, going on a backstage VIP tour at one of my absolute favorite bands shows, and ended up meeting two of the four members. It's been almost two weeks and I am still blown away with how down to earth and kind they are.
Behind The Scenes With Shinedown
I've been a fan of Shinedown for quite some time, but over the past five or so years, their music has hit me in a different way, and they now sit at the top of my favorites list. I've seen them live quite a bit since 2019; Bethel Woods, twice at the Prudential Center in NJ, front and center in the pit at SPAC, PNC Bank Arts Center, and my next show is at a smaller lounge at Foxwoods in December.
On September 24th I took my eight year old, on her birthday, to see Shinedown at the Prudential Center, and surprised her with the VIP experience as part of her birthday gift.
Now the VIP experience included a guided backstage tour, some awesome merch, and early access to the floor for a prime spot on the barricade, but did not guarantee meeting any of the band. I went in hopeful, but never expected what we encountered.
Sound Check & Stage Views
After walking through the tunnel backstage, we were brought to the side of the stage where we got to hear a bit of the crew doing sound check, and I immediately spotted Shinedown drummer Barry Kerch (in yellow) near the stage.
As cool as that was, a few minutes later, Barry passed us in the hallway and started chatting with everyone on the VIP tour, stopping for photos with everyone and answering questions about the show. He even chatted it up with the birthday girl who, without skipping a beat, was excited to tell him this was NOT her first time seeing Shinedown, but in fact their first time meeting!
Barry, along with Freddie, our guide, provided us with some info about Shinedown's pre-show habits and showed us into their dressing room area, which was not at all what I expected (see the photos in the gallery below).
My daughter wanted to check out the room across from Shinedown's dressing room area, which we learned was a space set up for the guys to hang and enjoy some quiet time. Upon walking into the room (that we thought was empty), I was shocked to see none other than Shinedown's own Zach Myers just hanging out with his guitar - not quite as shocked as my kid (probably one of very few eight year olds who would recognize Zach) as she turned and said oh my god mom, Zach is right there - complete with tears from excitement in her eyes.
Zach Myers Joins The VIP Tour & We Make The VIP Reel
Just as with Barry, Zach was so incredibly kind and chatted with fans like we were old friends, and then shocked our group by joining us on the tour, walking with us behind the scenes of the venue. In addition to asking questions on the tour, he stopped to answer our questions, take photos, all of it. He couldn't have been nicer.
We were able to see what life is like behind the scenes for The Revolutions Live Tour (in addition to Shinedown, the tour included Papa Roach and Spiritbox); learn about how the spotlights run backstage, how they have a traveling catering squad, construct a gym in a rig at each tour stop, see their jam spaces, and just how large the entourage is that makes this tour come together at each stop.
Shinedown's amazing photographer/videographer Sanjay Parikh, was with us for the duration of the VIP experience, camera in hand, so I knew that there would eventually be some sort of video to follow. What I did not expect was to see my mug, front and center with literal emoji heart eyes taking in every moment of this experience, with the coolest eight-year-old I know walking around like she owned the place.
I cannot say enough about this band, who truly leave it all on the stage each night and are wonderful ambassadors for mental health. I always imagined the guys in Shinedown to be kind and personable, and go all-out for their fanbase, and after getting the experience first hand, they proved me right 1,000 times over. I guess it's all just a symptom of being human....
An Evening With Justin Furstenfeld at WRRV Sessions
Gallery Credit: Val Turco