Godsmack Vibez Tour: A Night of Intimacy and Reflection at YouTube Theater

Article Contributed by L. Paul Mann | Published on Tuesday, April 16, 2024

On April 10, 2024, the YouTube Theater witnessed a captivating departure from Godsmack's usual high-octane shows. This concert, part of their Vibez Tour, traded the mosh pits for a more intimate and introspective atmosphere, offering a unique experience for their fans. No one really knew what to expect from a show billed as an intimate night with the band. The "Vibez Tour" featured lead singer Sully Erna and his bandmates playing a series of intimate evenings featuring acoustic and electric performances and storytelling in venues across North America. The tour's second leg kicked off April 9 in Valley Center, California, before making its way to Los Angeles.

Bastian de Cruz | 4/10/24 | Photo by L. Paul Mann

Opening the night was Bastian da Cruz, a singer-songwriter hailing from Denmark. Despite the miles separating him from home, Bastian was excited to be on tour with Godsmack. While not the conventional choice to kick off a hard rock show, Bastian could hold his own, garnering polite applause from an otherwise heavy metal fanbase.

His songwriting was marked by its simplicity yet carried a profound personal depth that resonates powerfully. He matched his writing prowess with a strong voice. Bastian's vocals occasionally soared above the sound system, showcasing his versatility across genres. With a seasoned tenor that prioritized the weight of his lyrics over sheer volume, Bastian effortlessly navigated through his setlist, infusing each song with unwavering intensity.

Bastian de Cruz | Inglewood, CA | Photo by L. Paul Mann

After a short break, the Bastian da Cruz backdrop fell away, revealing an eerie stage set for Godsmack. It was apparent from the multiple instruments onstage that this would be more than an acoustic concert and feature additional musicians joining the core band. The set was dimly lit with electric candles, and two large Gargoyles flanked the corners of the stage. The devilish statues would later light up in different configurations, and their eyes would glow an eerie red. Before the Godsmack set began, there was a video trailer for the new documentary “I Stand Alone: The Sully Erna Story.”

Godsmack | 4/10/24 | Photo by L. Paul Mann

Then Godmsack exploded onstage with a cover of Pink Floyd's "Time," setting the tone for a thoughtful and musically explorative night. A giant multimedia screen played carefully synched visuals throughout the evening. Sully devilishly quipped at one point midway through the show, “I bet you fuckers wish you were doing mushrooms about now," as the psychedelic images continued on the screens behind the band. By the show's third song, the band set the mood with their signature song, “Voodoo.” The moody song came across as a take on the New Orleans legendary singer Dr John with his breakthrough “Walk On Guilded Splinters” album but with a hard rock twist.

Sully Erna of Godsmack

Gone were the pyrotechnics and the crowd-surfing masses of a typical Godsmack concert. The focus turned wholly on the music for the Vibez Tour, and combined with the state-of-the-art sound system at the YouTube theater, the performance proved to be nothing short of astounding. There was no need for a grand stage presence; all six musicians, including guest guitarist Tim Theriault, were free to focus on delivering a masterclass in musicianship. Every note resonated, every riff hit hard, and the band was undeniably tight – a fact that often gets lost in the larger arena shows. YouTube theater's superb acoustics, expertly utilized by sound engineers, created an unparalleled sonic experience that no stadium concert could ever replicate.

Godsmack | Youtube Theater | Photo by L. Paul Mann

The setlist was a journey through Godsmack's history, with old favorites seamlessly blended with newer tracks and a few surprising covers. From the reflective solo piano ballads to the electrifying hard rock anthems, Godsmack ran the gamut, showcasing their versatility and raw power. A highlight was their take on Led Zeppelin's "No Quarter," featuring an extended guitar jam between Theriault and Tony Rombola that brought the house down. Led Zeppelin themselves would have been hard pressed to match the musicianship on this cover version of the song.

Robbie Merrill of Godsmack

Shannon Larkin's infectious energy on drums and constant grin was contagious, while Robbie Merrill held down the low end with his signature groove. Keyboardist Chris Decato, another guest for the tour, perfectly complemented Sully Erna on tracks like "Serenity" and "One Rainy Day," allowing them to breathe new life into classic rock covers like "Long Train Runnin'" by the Doobie Brothers, which was the finale of the 16 song setlist. Throughout the performance, Sully's leadership was evident, and his smiles and thumbs-ups were a testament to the seamless integration of Tim and Chris into the band's dynamic. The band even dared to perform a thundering version of “Nothing Else Matters” by Metallica.

Godsmack interspersed their own songs with personal stories and reflections on the power of music. These candid moments delved into the emotional connection music fosters, prompting the audience to consider its profound impact on our lives. A particularly poignant moment arrived with Sully Erna's heartfelt piano rendition of "Under Your Scars."  This performance was accompanied by a message of gratitude for the band's 25-year career. It was a tribute to inspirational artists like Chris Cornell and Amy Winehouse, showcasing Godsmack's reverence for their legacies.

Godsmack | 4/10/24 | Photo by L. Paul Mann

The band's commitment to social advocacy, particularly towards mental health awareness, was woven into the fabric of the concert. Sully Erna and the entire band actively support The Scars Foundation, an organization they established to provide resources and raise awareness for those struggling with mental health. This dedication added depth to their music, showcasing their desire to make a positive impact beyond the stage.