All right, time to tell a long story about the overall concert experience.
As stated, I left the office at 5PM and got to the Anaheim Gardenwalk (that has all kinds of cool stuff. Restaurants, an escape room, bowling alley, shopping, etc., and of course, the House of Blues) parking lot at around 5:30-ish (at least, that's what the parking ticket I recieve, had to validate at the HOB, and give back to determine how much I had to pay for parking). However, it was probably around 5:40 where I got a spot I liked on the second floor. The HOB was on the fourth floor. Went to the elevator, went to the 4th floor parking and saw that there was loads of spaces left and I thought, "Screw this, I'm parking on the fourth floor" and manage to get in line at around 5:55.
As one would do while waiting to get into a concert, I decided to look around and see what kinds of bands' shirts people were wearing. There was naturally a wide range of shirts. One day, I hope to go to a concert and see someone sport an Alter Bridge shirt, but that was not the case that day. Saw some A7X shirts, Bullet for My Valentine, FFDP, Seether, Lacuna Coil, plenty of all kinds of Halestorm shirts, and I think I saw someone wearing an AJ Styles (well-known wrestler) P1 shirt. That particular guy dropped his phone off a balcony while waiting and everyone around him groaned while he was going to retrieve it. Once he found and he said the phone was ok, he had a nice round of applause around him. Overall, the vibe was really friendly and people were naturally excited for this show.
Security around the building asked if anyone wants to do the $100 VIP which gets you front of the line, access to the second floor of the venue, which has great views and seats, have food/drinks covered, etc. or just the $30 front of the line. I opted not to do the $30 front of the line on that day, maybe I will when I see Breaking Benjamin, but the guy in front of me that was sporting a Slash top hat and shades wanted it and off he went. I think I heard from outside Starset do some soundchecks. I heard Dustin Bates belting off My Demons, Gravity of You, etc. It sounded good.
After security was letting the front of the line people first at 6:30, I was able to get in at around 6:55 after going through security, checking tickets, validating parking. When I got into the building, I noticed at around 7:10 or so, there was a lot of spaces left on the floor and I could have gotten a good spot around the middle of it, but I opt not to and settled for a spot behind the rails on the left side of the stage. However, nature was a calling and after I went to the restroom, and it was around 7:20-ish, the floor was mainly packed and I lost my spot behind the rail. However, there was a good spot behind left side of the sound board and I was behind a couple and two guys and it was a good view. Any view in the HOB, honestly, was a great view, unless you were short and was behind tall guys (and there was a fair amount pretty tall dudes at the show).
The first act of the night was New Year's Day. They were all right. I couldn't hear the guitars that much and the frontwoman did what she can to get people into it and some were pretty responsive.
The second act was Starset and, man, for a main support act, they had a lot of production going. Smoke machines, three screens, and a violin and cello player. Heck, one of the screens actually also acted as a drum glass box (similar to what Flip used during the AB III tour) to prevent the drum sound from bleeding too heavily out there. Starset was pretty good. Lots of great spacey visuals. The couple in front of me were really into them. If I had one gripe about them, it was actually the sound quality. It felt too static and noisy and I could barely make out Dustin Bates' vocals. I was wearing earbuds for the first two acts, but it did not cooperate like I wanted it to during Starset. I mean, sure, there were times where the sound worked out just because of the "gimmick" of the band, but it was hard to piece it all together in my ears. Crowd reacted well to Carnivore, My Demons, Satellite, and Monster. I was a bit disappointed though not to hear Gravity of You or Last to Fall, but oh well.
Now then for the main attraction, Halestorm. They were ever bit of a top performing band as you can expect from them. They were fantastic. The sound quality was fantastic, I did not need any earbuds at all for the most part of their set. They did not start off with a bombastic intro and whatnot. Just Lzzy Hale going acapella on It's Not You on the first verse until the band comes in. The band them rolled with Apocalyptic, Love Bites (so do I), Freak Like Me, Mz. Hyde, Amen and the crowd was really into it, reacting well, singing along with the words, and I liked how the in-between song banter really segues nicely into the next song.
They played Whitesnake's Still of the Night, which has been their cover of choice for the most part of the year. Afterwards, Lzzy Hale was talking the next song they were about to play is paying tribute to someone that had passed away this year. A person with a fantastic voice, and a great poet. Oh yeah, that guy was Chris Cornell. I was thinking, "Are they going to do Hunger Strike? I know they did that on a cover EP," but they went with Soundgarden's Fell on Black Days (which they did on the EP this year), a formidable choice, and they sounded great and I was glad they did not go with the typical "Black Hole Sun" which some people have been covering this year after Chris Cornell's passing and Lzzy sounded great.
Speaking of which, I was a bit skeptical of the shape of Lzzy's voice based on the live stream they did last year. I thought her voice lost some power and couldn't hit the screams as much as one would think and it was mainly due to tour exhaustion presumably. Yesterday, she was hitting all of her vocal spots and screams with so much power. Arejay's timing on the drums and enthusiasm was really on point as well. They were every bit of the top caliber live band that I know they can be. Afterwards, they did two more songs (out of eight total last night) from Into the Wild Life, The Reckoning and Unapologetic, which were some fine picks.
Then comes out the grand piano, and Lzzy pulls another cover out, that one song from the Bodyguard movie. The one that goes, "AND IIIIIIII WILLL ALWAYS LOVE YOU!!!!!!" and then did Dear Daughter and I had something in my eye while she was playing Dear Daughter. After that comes, I Like it Heavy and then Arejay's crazy drum solo and he gave us a call and response quiz (which included Rock and Roll all Nite and Highway to Hell and a song about a Mercedes-Benz? I didn't know how to react to the last one, but the crowd certainly did. He also brought out the big sticks and I cannot not mark out for that.
They then closed the show off with I am the Fire (another great pick), I Get Off, Mayhem (which kicked all kinds of ass), and I Miss the Misery (which had a great extended outro that made it a great closer). I was a bit disappointed that they did not play Here's to Us, but it was all right. They give a great 90 minutes set. It was a really enjoyable concert and the band was on great point, and this might have been the best crowd I was a part of in all of the five concerts I've been to. It was a wide range of demographics, male and female, some kids, older gentlemen, but people mainly in my age bracket, but they all had a blast.
Now comes the hardest part I thought, getting out of the parking lot. Turned out there was not much traffic and I was only charged $9 for parking(!!!). I thought I had to spend like $20-30, but I'll take this any day, and made it home safely (it was only about 3-5 miles to home from the HOB).
Overall, if Halestorm is near your area, I do suggest going to one of their shows. Sure, their songs may seem generic and Lzzy's lyrics might be a bit "juvenile," but they are a great live band. Heck, songs I did not like from Into the Wild Life like Apocalyptic, Amen, and I Like it Heavy translated really well live. I also recommend for those that are in the Anaheim area to go see a show at the HOB. Getting in and out was good. There are not really any bad views and the crowd was pretty nice.
Now that I know what to expect when getting to the House of Blues, this is going to be pretty easy getting a good spot in line before seeing Breaking Benjamin.