I must confess, I have a hard time talking about Shinedown without fangirling. They became one of my very favorite bands the I first saw them perform live back around 2008. Sincce then, I’ve been to every concert they’ve given in Indy (plus a few in other areas), I’ve done the meet & greet thing, I have all their albums, including a couple of special-edition vinyls, I buy their merch, and I follow them on social media. They practice what they preach, they support each other and their fans, and they KICK ASS every single time they take the stage. You can understand, then, why it was kind of a big deal to me to be in the photo pit May 20 when they headlined 103.3 WOLT’s Mayday concert at The Farm Bureau Insurance Lawn at White River State Park in Indianapolis. Openers Badflower and Yungblud (reviewed separately) had the crowd pretty amped and anticipation was high as the intro from the “ATTENTION ATTENTION” track indicated the start of the show. Then drummer Barry Kerch, bassist Eric Bass, guitarist Zach Myers and vocalist Brent Smith took the dimly lit stage. Pausing just long enough to strike dramatic poses, they jumped into “Devil,” the first single released from their latest album, “ATTENTION ATTENTION.” They played with characteristic passion and energy, following up with “Diamond Eyes (Boom-Lay Boom-Lay Boom)” from “The Expendables” movie soundtrack. At the end of “Diamond Eyes,” Brent Smith took the time to give high-fives to the photographers and staff in the photo pit, which is a tradition I only recently learned about and is one of the coolest things I’ve ever experienced. He then took a moment to recognize tour photographer/videographer Sanjay Parikh (which was a 100% class move) before having the audience shake hands with each other and jump in unison as he launched into “Enemies.” Shinedown’s 16-song setlist was heavily weighted with songs from the past three albums, but also included early favorites such as “45,” “Simple Man,” “Second Chance,” and “Sound of Madness.” I never get tired of hearing these performed live, and I honestly think there would be a rift in the time/space continuum if “Sound of Madness” was ever left off the setlist. I was also happy “I’ll Follow You,” was included; that number has a special place in my heart because I was there when Zach and Brent performed it live for the first time – and it happened to be on my 50th birthday. My only complaint with the setlist Monday night was that there was no encore. Although that was a little disappointing, Shinedown’s last song of the night, “Brilliant,” is a positive, affirming song that kind of made everything alright. In some ways Shinedown’s show was a typical rock show – we had screaming fans, killer riffs, laser lights, pyro, fists in the air, the cell-phone-light ballad, and songs where everyone sang along. Barry’s dreads and Eric’s feet were flying, Zach struck classic rock guitarist poses, and Brent commanded everyone’s attention. The guys all were having fun, and it showed. But underneath it all, there was a sense of purpose. The members of Shinedown have things they want - no, make that NEED - to share with the world, and they’re working tirelessly to make themselves heard. If you want to know what those things are, get yourself to a Shinedown concert ASAP.