The WAAF Big Gig featuring Godsmack in Worcester, MA – April 30, 2022
Back in late 2019, what some may refer to as “the before times,” popular Boston rock radio station WAAF announced “The Big Gig” for April of 2022. Celebrating 50 years on the air, the show would feature Godsmack, Halestorm, Theory of a Deadman, Dirty Honey and Dinosaur Pile-Up.
As the Covid-19 pandemic began, The Big Gig was moved from April 2020 to April 2021. As the pandemic stretched on, it was moved again, to April 2022. With the second reschedule, also came a lineup change. The support acts now had other touring commitments that would prevent them from playing this. The new lineup would still be headlined by Godsmack, and support would come from Three Days Grace, Black Veil Brides, Wage War and Lilith Czar. Some great bands, no doubt, although I feel the original lineup would have been stronger.
The other setback to this show, besides pandemic delays, is that WAAF no longer broadcasts. In February 2020, the station owner sold the frequency, and after 50 years of rock, they were off the air, being replaced by a Christian station. You can still find WAAF broadcast online, but it’s not the same, there’s DJs, it’s essentially just a streaming playlist.
Though the station is no more, the WAAF Big Gig lives on! Longtime favorite DJs Mistress Carrie and Mike Hsu now broadcast on The Pike FM, fittingly a Worcester rock station. The pair were in attendance tonight, and would switch off speaking to the crowd, introducing the bands as they took the stage.
Unfortunately, as patrons arrived to the venue, they were greeted by signs on the door stating that Three Days Grace would not be playing tonight. This was not a point communicated to anybody besides the signs on the door, so we saw many fans later on in the night who were very confused and upset that the band was not there.
Fresh off the opening slot on the Trinity of Terror tour, Juliet Simms, AKA Lilith Czar, kicked off the night. Starting off with “Feed my Chaos,” she played a set of women-empowering music that rocked the house. Her set included powerful songs like “Unholy” – which she introduced simply saying “this is a song about getting laid,” with a shrug – a cover of Stevie Nick’s “Edge of Seventeen,” and her anthem “King,” all got the audience fired up for a great night of music.
With Three Days Grace dropping off the bill last minute, this left more time for all the other bands to play longer. Florida-based metalcore band Wage War definitely took advantage of this, getting to squeeze a few extra songs into their set. From the start of their first song, “Relapse,” all the way through their final song, “Stitch,” the crowd was going wild. In the fall, Wage War released their fourth album, Manic, which they played heavily off of tonight. Judging by the reaction, the audience seems to love the new material!
After an intro video played, featuring Beastie Boys’ DJ Mix Master Mike spinning a medley of classic songs, the curtains dropped, and Godsmack kicked into “I Stand Alone.” Of the half-dozen or so times I’ve seen Godsmack, this has always been the final song of their set, so it was cool to see it rotated up front for a show. Always a great song for the audience to sing along, it really got the crowd roaring, before kicking into the title track off their last album, 2018’s When Legends Rise.
Godsmack is in an interesting position, currently, not having a recent or upcoming album that they’re touring. The little string of dates they’re playing this year seem to all be similar to this, festivals for radio stations in various markets. The result is basically a greatest hits setlist, with nothing new to promote, and a fairly stripped down stage production. There’s no dueling drum solo to be found on this tour!
Though the production is stripped down, there’s still plenty of pyro, which came roaring in for the first time during “1000 HP.” Lots of flames and explosions would occur over the rest of the night.
Songs like “Keep Away,” “Straight out of Line” and “Whatever” are always crowd favorites. Frontman Sully Erna has a stage presence that’s undeniable, and when they play their classic songs, the audience goes wild. With their extra time tonight, they added a cover of “Rocky Mountain Way” in the middle of the set, which wouldn’t be their only cover of the night. After opening with “I Stand Alone,” the band needed something strong to close the night with, and they chose AC/DC’s “Highway to Hell.”
The show was a very fitting end to the legacy of WAAF, as not many bands were as closely associated with the station as Godsmack was. Perhaps next year, we’ll hear something new out of Godsmack, but for right now, after a couple of years of the band being off the road, this little reminder of why we enjoy them was just what New England needed.