Godsmack brought all the vibes to Harrah’s Socal Resort

On the chilly winter evening of Tuesday, April 9th heavy rockers Godsmack brought their Vibez Tour to Harrah’s SoCal Resort.  Billed as an evening of acoustic/electric performances + untold stories, this unique concert experience drew a huge caravan of San Diego music fans out to Funner, CA, which is about an hour’s trek outside of Downtown San Diego. The 2200-seat conference venue is a great place to see a show with good sound, comfy seats, large video screens, and great lighting.

Godsmack is of course a very well-known modern rock act, famous for their 90’s and 2000’s hits like “Keep Away,” “I Stand Alone,” and the drum jam “Voodoo” which got a very cool rendition at this show.  The band, which is nearing its 30th anniversary next year, is the type of group that enjoys a bit of sonic exploration.  This stripped-down tour, which was quite heavy on covers and newer Godsmack originals, was certainly a radical departure setlist-wise from the band’s most recent San Diego show back in August which focused on greatest hits.  However, the deep cuts and covers the band chose to tackle at this show made for a fun and unique look at this talented group of musicians who are perhaps a bit tired of always playing the same songs on repeat.

Godsmack came out to an elaborate stage literally flanked by giant foam gargoyles, and it was clear from the start that this was going to be a unique show.  The theming was one part witches coven and one part MTV unplugged with candles and an elaborately ornamented mic stand on display.  Starting with a cover of Pink Floyd’s “Time,” lead singer Sully Erna came to the stage wearing a huge pair of black shades that immediately invoked Layne Staley vibes.  His soulful vocal performance was powerful throughout the show as he tackled a long setlist of emotional songs without the help of a ton of electric instruments to hide behind.  The band did get loud however on several songs, unable to contain their typical heavy style of playing music.

Guitarist Tony Rombola deftly navigated the myriad of covers as well, and also played some incredibly soulful solos on songs like “Truth” from 2023’s Lighting Up The Sky.  Bassist Robbie Merrill could be seen grinning and enjoying himself during the set and his powerful subsonic performance could be especially felt on grooving songs like “Spiral” from 2000’s Awake.  Lastly, drummer Shanon Larkin, who is a gifted percussionist and an extremely visual one as well, was clearly on fire as usual but was unfortunately hidden behind a large piano in the middle of the stage.  His playing on the band’s cover of Led Zeppelin’s “No Quarter” was super heavy and channeled some Bonham-eque grooves but with his large cymbal array, it was hard to see all his playing.  It is clear however from songs throughout the show that he has mastered the art of the shaker from his bandmate Sully, a funny part of the web videos promoting this show online.

The rear of Godsmack’s expansive stage for this show was covered by a giant LED screen that played increasingly cool visuals and did a great job of showing the audience all of the musicians’ moves that couldn’t be seen onstage.  Kudos to new video director Paris Visone, who was previously the band’s touring photographer, for elevating the band’s performance in such a striking way.  This Vibez Tour stop was an unexpected surprise that offered a new take on an old favorite band.  Cheers to Godsmack for continuously trying new things and keeping it interesting.  Recently it was announced that the band will no longer be recording new albums, however judging by this concert this is a group that cannot contain its creativity for very long.

Photos and Review by: Alex Matthews