Ryan Brassard, who runs the metal/hardcore/punk site Axes to Grind, checked out Friday's Godsmack/Taproot show, the first free concert at the Tiguas' new Socorro Entertainment Center. Here's his review of the show and his thoughts on the new venue. Feel free to share your thoughts on the show and SEC in the comments section.
This highly anticipated event, featuring Godsmack and Taproot, marked the beginning of a new era in the tribe’s continued efforts to bring free concerts to the Sun City. As was expected, the Socorro Entertainment Center, or SEC, still requires some work for completion. The parking lot isn't paved, some of the dressing rooms and offices aren't unfinished, but the concert went off smoothly with no obvious major issues.
The first thing to know — get there early. The traffic on Socorro Road was congested to say the least. The parking lot across from the venue has plenty of room, and the SEC staff did a great job controlling the flow of traffic and parking assignments. Until the lot is paved, however, expect a light coat of El Paso dust when returning to your vehicle.
The size of the SEC is impressive, with a very large area for general admission and an extremely large stage. Beer stands were located on the sides and the back of the venue, which made it difficult to get in line when the place is packed, as it was Friday night.
The sound system and acoustics were adequate to say the least, even down to the vocal echo and reverb. The SEC provided live video on enormous screens on each side of the stage, giving the entire crowd a crisp visual of the stage action. The amount of speaker cabinets both on stage and suspended from the rafters provided adequate amplification with minimal saturation, even to the furthest corners of the facility.
Stephen Richards, singer-guitarist for opening act Taproot, called the SEC “ a beautiful venue with a great room, and it sounded amazing.”
Taproot, the alternative/hard rock band out of Ann Arbor, Mich., took the stage at 7:30p.m. to a hail of applause. The group new album, 'The Episodes," in its entirety. Richards described its as “a story that follows three characters over a Sunday morning period of a couple hours. The music itself is accompanying the story, almost like a score to a movie.” Taproot received a warm, even excited welcome from the crowd excited for the show’s opening act.
The time between sets was the expected 30 or so minutes. In that time, the venue filled even more, nearing the 10,000 standing-room capacity. Godsmack hit the stage at 9 p.m. to a hail of cheers. The band wasted no time, opening with an old favorite, "Awake," the title track of its 2000 best-selling album. Singer-guitarist Sully Erna interacted with the crowd throughout the set. The barricaded buffer between crowd and stage was only four feet, which really got the crowd closer to the action. The crowd's involvement was incredible, unlike any I had witnessed at the Speaking Rock outdoor venue.
The most impressive part of the show was "Batalla de los Tambores," a dueling drums exhibition and Godsmack concert staple featuring Erna and drummer Shannon Larkin, whose drum platform floated hydraulically toward the front of the stage. Erna emerged seemingly out of nowhere on a second drum set. They settled at center stage, facing each other, blasting out drum beats. The drum battle will be featured on the band's first concert album, "Live & Inspired," due May 15.
“It has been a real privilege to play here in your city," Erna told the throng. “No matter where we go after this, we will always remember El Paso.”
Godsmack played for an hour and half, and finished their set with another old favorite, “I Stand Alone” off their 2003 release, 'Faceless.'
“You have been the best crowd on the tour thus far,” Erna said, admiring the crowd with a large, genuine smile.
Overall, the first event at the Socorro Entertainment Center was a success. Yes, there are some issues to work out, but it went off smoothly, showing the potential this venue has. The El Paso crowd was loud and interactive. Several people I talked to said they thoroughly enjoyed themselves.