The night began with the Nashville-based, award-winning—with two Grammy nominations--Christian rockers, RED, taking the stage. Formed in 2006, the trio comprising Michael Barnes (lead vocals, keyboards, piano), Randy Armstrong (bass, backing vocals) and Randy’s twin brother Anthony Armstrong (lead guitar, backing vocals), has played a significant role in the alternative rock music scene.
RED set the tone, devouring their entire time on stage. As direct tour support for Breaking Benjamin, the group is incredibly tight and played an exciting set full of high-energy, solid rock. Barnes' had the chops and clout to take over the scene with his powerful vocals laced with inspiring lyrics and passionate melodies that held the crowd and captivated the unfamiliar fan.
Palpable tension brewed between sets as the wall-to-wall crowd watched every move on stage. The house lights went dim and the crowd’s energy grew exponentially. Breaking Benjamin emerged onstage under a shroud of red lights. The second the opening guitar chords of "So Cold" rang out from the group's platinum-selling sophomore album, We Are Not Alone (2004), the devoted crowd was immersed in a full-on unison songfest. The emotional ride that's known as a Breaking Benjamin show was underway.
Based out of Pennsylvania, the alternative rock band was founded in 1999 by lead singer and guitarist Benjamin Burnley, who not only has a killer voice, but he is a master at engaging the crowd and making them a part of the show. The current lineup, Keith Wallen (rhythm guitar, backing vocals), Aaron Bruch (bass, backing vocals), Jasen Rauch (guitar) and Shaun Foist (drums) was deliberately hand-picked by Burnley with one goal in mind: to replicate the sound on the albums during a live performance. Since Burnley refuses to play click tracks, Bruch and Wallen deliver the once missing background vocals and harmonies to the live stage, while Rauch brings the additional guitar--both necessary components guaranteeing fans hear the songs the way they have come to know and love them.
As the night progressed on, the assembled fans enjoyed a diverse set, which covered selections from every album that Breaking Benjamin has released. Songs ranged from their debut album, Saturate (2002) to their latest release via Hollywood Records, the phenomenal 2015 Dark Before Dawn, which is the band's first No. 1 album.
Six songs into the set--and one of the highlights of the night--was a spectacular medley of rock covers, paying tribute to Breaking Benjamin's personal musical influences. The mashup started out with Darth Vader's "Imperial March," from Star Wars (Burnley is a huge Star Wars fan). Then the band moved into Rage Against the Machine's guitar-driven "Bulls on Parade," before igniting a boisterous sing-a-long with Nirvana's anthemic "Smells Like Teen Spirit." Up next, one of Pantera's most successful songs, "Walk," and closing out with a rendition of Metallica's "Sad But True."
The band returned to performing their songs. Making way from the stage to the crowd's keen ears were several radio rock hits, “Angels Fall,” “Failure,” “Ashes of Eden” and “Never Again” (No. 1 single on the Billboard rock charts), creating many emotional moments for the Breaking Benjamin devotee’s.
The set ended with the moving epic, "The Diary of Jane.” Breaking Benjamin extended their heartfelt thanks, expressing a profound and meaningful love for their fans and their amazing support system. As they exited the stage--flashing devil horns and forming heart shapes on their chests--the crowd erupted in a resounding roar of applause and mutual gratitude.
It was a night full of energy and astounding music from start to finish. Be sure to take advantage of your chance to be in their crowd as their mastering sound surges all around you.
For Breaking Benjamin's 2017 tour schedule, click here.
Text and photos by Joshua Weesner of Stand Up Alone Productions
*Disclaimer: The words expressed in photo blog reviews do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Music Connection Magazine.