May 31, 2003

Lazerfest Brings Godsmack, Cold and Trapt up North

By Randy J. Klodz

Our neighbors to the north, Milwaukee, Wis. offered a hard rock line-up that featured Cold and Trapt playing shorter sets with Godsmack headlining as part of the annual LazerFest, sponsored by Milwaukee rock station Lazer103 which took place at the Marcus Amphitheater on May 31.

With a brisk breeze blowing off the nearby Lake Michigan, an outdoor radio festival at the end of May would seem like a warm way to start of the summer concert series, but many patrons filled the amphitheater wearing heavy coats and even gloves.

The band Cold, fronted by singer Scooter Ward, guitarists Kelly Hayes and Terry Balsamo, bassist Jeremy Marshall (who only appeared onstage for back-up vocal duties since he recently broke his right hand) and drummer Sam McCandless, took the stage at a peculiar slot of time: three bands before Godsmack was to take the stage. But the fans that arrived early were in for a short set that featured tracks from the May release “Year of the Spider” and 2000’s “13 Ways to Bleed on Stage.”

Cold whipped through new tracks “Remedy,” “Don’t Belong,” “Suffocate” and the hit single “Stupid Girl,” which Ward introduced by saying “This song is stupid.” Cold also threw in popular tracks “No One,” “Send in the Clowns” and “Just Got Wicked,” which received the loudest response from the chilled crowd. Cold is scheduled to be a part of the second leg of this year’s Lollapalooza Tour.

After a short set by the fairly unknown Ra, California natives Trapt took the stage. In a suspicious time slot schedule, Trapt took the stage right before the headlining Godsmack, although the members of Trapt have one album under their belt, their self-titled debut which hit stores last November.

Trapt’s energetic vocalist Chris Brown darted about the stage, often catching his microphone cord in the stage monitors. Brown, who resembles a brown haired Mark McGrath, the famed lead singer for party band Sugar Ray, lead his band through a quick set that included “New Beginning,” a song that Brown dedicated to “everybody that gets up everyday and gets all their stuff done,” and the hit single “Headstrong.” Other notable tracks include “Made of Glass” and “Hollowman.”

Without a recent Chicago appearance, Chicagoans had to make way to Milwaukee to see one of hard-rocks top acts Godsmack perform. With a patriotic opening movie sequence which included scenes depicting war and typed inspirational messages the Boston-based quintet took the stage to “Straight out of Line,” the hit single and opening track to Godsmack’s new “Faceless” album.

Godsmack, which features Sully Erna (vocals/sporadic guitar), Tony Rombola (guitar), Robbie Merrill (bass) and Shannon Larkin (drums), blasted through a 14-track set that featured fire towers, cannon booms and a few surprises. During the chant-like “Voodoo” from Godsmack’s self-titled debut a female belly dancer arose from a platform on each side of the stage. Both dancers gyrated to the tune in rhythm, but the surprise didn’t end there.

From each of the two stage props that resembled smoke stacks two bongo players arose, which became the catalyst for what was to be a 10-minute instrumental ending to the song. Erna disappeared momentarily and then arose in a drum kit that rose above Larkin’s set and the two traded off drum solos. When all was said and done, Erna played every instrument except the bass during the set.

During “Trippin’” a popular track from Godsmack’s second album, “Awake,” a disco ball dropped, placing spots of light all over the darkened pavilion. Other Godsmack also played set staples “Whatever,” “Awake,” “Keep Away” and “Greed,” as well as several other tracks. Never one to speak much during a set, Erna let the music speak for itself.

Godsmack’s current tour supporting “Faceless” is scheduled to run through June 20 where the band makes its way to the Star Theatre in Spokane, Was. For more information on Godsmack log onto www.godsmack.com.

Scooter Ward of Cold Photo: Randy J. Klodz
Sully Erna of Godsmack Photo: Randy J. Klodz