The End begins Wednesday in Omaha.
Black Sabbath is opening its final tour at the CenturyLink Center, starting at least nine months of a high-volume farewell from the hard-rock outfit that birthed heavy metal while making its way into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
But before Ozzy Osbourne and company crank up “Paranoid” and “Iron Man,” Rival Sons will open the Omaha show, as it will for the entire tour.
“I love that it’s starting in Omaha,” said Dave Beste, the Lincoln native who plays bass in Rival Sons. “It feels really huge for us. It feels like the biggest thing we’ve done so far. ... Beyond getting to open for a legendary band like that, it’s giving us great exposure.”
Rival Sons, an LA blues-rock quartet, has known it was going to share the stage with Sabbath for more than year. But landing the opening slot came as a surprise to the band back in November 2014.
“We played at the Classic Rock awards in LA,” Beste said. “Ozzy and Sharon were there. They saw a couple songs. That night, they asked us if we’d go on the road with them. We’ve known it was going to happen for a year, but we couldn’t talk about it until they announced the tour.”
Like the other Rival Sons, Beste is excited to open for Black Sabbath. Like nearly every rock musician, he said, he listened to the band while growing up.
“I can’t claim to be a super fan as a kid or anything,” Beste said. “But my brother and I both had our metal phase early. They were definitely in that mix. I wouldn’t necessarily call them metal, but everybody else does.”
Beste moved to LA area in 2000, a couple of months after his brother Sean and current Maroon 5 guitarist James Valentine headed west from Lincoln with their band Square. He got into the music scene there, most notably as a member of Rocco DeLuca and The Burden for four years. He was between bands in summer 2013 when his phone rang.
The call was from Jay Buchanan, who asked him to step into the Rival Sons lineup to replace a departed bassist. Two weeks later, he was playing in front of 20,000 people at a festival in Norway.
Nearly three years later, Beste has “made it,” playing in Rival Sons for a living.
“I’m not sure what I expected when I left Lincoln,” he said. “I was 20 years old and kind of clueless. I’d never been to LA when I moved here. That took some getting used to. Years of playing and performing, meeting other musicians and seeing you can be successful here -- like James Valentine -- it didn’t seem out of reach at all. You just keep plugging away.
“Now I’m out playing with some of my best friends. It’s hard to beat. Even if the band doesn’t get any bigger than we are now, for me, it’s a success.”
Rival Sons is already big in Europe, where rock continues to thrive. The band draws thousands to shows in small halls there on repeated tours that hit multiple countries every few months.
“I feel like I live there,” Beste said. “We’re there, not all in one block, but pretty much half the year. Six months out of the year, we’ll spend in Europe. You start to get used to it, which is strange as a kid in Lincoln dying to go to Europe. Now we get there regularly.”
The band just completed its latest European run, opening for Deep Purple mostly in Germany and ending with a concert in London’s massive O2 arena.
The Deep Purple shows, Beste said, demonstrate the strength of rock in Europe.
“The audience is such a mix of people,” Beste said. “You’ll have 13-, 14-year-old kids in Deep Purple shirts who know all the words to all the songs next to the guy who’s been following them since 1969. At our shows, too, it will range from 18 to 70. … I think we’ll see that here more and more, especially with a band like Black Sabbath.”
Rival Sons has worked up a setlist for Wednesday’s show, but Beste said it's not likely to play the same group of songs every night on the tour.
“I think we’ve got about 40 minutes,” he said. “We tend to be a little long-winded. So it’s probably going to be six or seven tunes. It’ll evolve when we see what people respond to. We don’t want to do six ballads and bum people out. We do that no matter whether we’re opening or not. You always have to change.”
What won’t be heard in Omaha are songs from the album Rival Sons completed in Nashville just before leaving for the Deep Purple tour, again recording with Dave Cobb, the producer gaining acclaim for his work with Sturgill Simpson, Jason Isbell and Chris Stapleton.
The album won’t be released until spring, so those songs won’t make an appearance until then. In the meantime, Beste said, the set will draw heavily on songs from “Great Western Valkyrie,” along with some from the band’s previous three albums.
Surprisingly, Rival Sons hasn’t rehearsed to prepare for the Black Sabbath tour.
“We kind of tour non-stop, so when we get home, it’s really hard to get us together,” Beste said. “We just wrapped up with Deep Purple a month ago so we’re feeling pretty good.”
But that doesn’t mean Rival Sons is taking its opening shot for granted. Far from it.
“Going out with Sabbath will allow us to play in front of a lot of their fans who have never heard of us who are rock and roll fans,” Beste said. “We’ve made a really good record with Dave. I don’t think this tour could have come at a better time. Well, it could have come at a better time. Omaha in January … California has completely ruined me. I can’t take the cold anymore.”