Nearly 4,000 fans gathered at the Lifestyle Communities Pavilion on Monday in anticipation of a show that would rock them to the core. With a thunderous roar, fans across all age groups welcomed back the band that has emerged from the depths of hiatus, ready to show the world that they still have what it takes to rock.
The “Dark Before Dawn” tour, originally scheduled to play at the Newport Music Hall, relocated to the LC after the venue sold out and ticket demand was still on the rise. The decision to move was a welcomed one, as the pavilion nearly sold out its seats as well.
The opening act, Starset, took its home crowd by storm. Dustin Bates (lead vocals), Ron DeChant (bass), Brock Richards (guitar) and Adam Gilbert (drums) started the band in Columbus in 2013. As part of The Starset Society, the group held true to the scientific and political themes of its album “Transmissions,” hypnotizing the crowd with its incredible cinematic rock style and fully robotic suits.
The electricity in the air following Starset was picked up and amplified by the group known as 10 Years, an alternative metal band out of Knoxville, Tennessee. With Jesse Hasek (lead vocals), Ryan Johnson (guitar), Chad Huff (guitar), Ryan Collier (bass) and Kyle Mayer (drums) ecstatic to be opening on this tour, they pumped up the crowd even further with their progressive style of rock. Playing several songs from its brand new album “From Birth to Burial,” the band made sure to keep the crowd up and jumping, particularly when Hasek waltzed right off the stage and up on to the front edge of the fans.
The two opening groups really rocked the stage and did their jobs perfectly. With the entire pavilion abuzz with energy and excitement, Breaking Benjamin appeared from the darkness of the fresh-set stage. The crowd let loose ear-piercing cheers and screams as the band responded in kind with heart-pounding beats and riffs, blasting right out of the gate into an incredible rock set.
Lead vocalist Benjamin Burnley, accompanied by Keith Wallen (rhythm guitar), Shaun Foist (drums), Aaron Bruch (bass) and
Jasen Rauch (lead guitar), took the crowd back in time to the early 2000s, opening with their hit songs “So Cold” and “Follow.” Longtime fans were moved to tears, happy to see the band staying true to form despite past issues.
Breaking Benjamin went into hiatus in 2010 in light of legal issues with former band members in addition to continuing health issues suffered by Burnley. It was thought over the course of the following four years that the band had broken up and would not be making a return. These rumors were dismissed resoundingly in the latter part of 2014 when Burnley announced the reformation of the band and the future release of a new album. On June 23, the album “Dark Before Dawn” was released with incredible fan support and record-setting success.
In The Lantern’s Q&A with Burnley, he noted the setlist for the show would encompass songs from across the band’s history. And that held true for the show on Monday, as the group followed its opening with several songs from the new album, including “Breaking the Silence,” “Ashes of Eden” and the smash hit “Angels Fall” that exploded the fans into crowd-surfing excitement.
Burnley continuously gives thanks and praise to their fans. And to truly show thanks, he invited fans from the crowd up on stage during the band’s performance of “Failure,” including a couple that brought their young son to the show as longtime fans. In addition to this surprise, the band also performed covers of the Queen song “Who Wants to Live Forever” and the Tool song “Aenema” to pay homage to the bands that inspired them along the path to stardom.
Near the end of the show, fans were shocked and excited to see the band place a Storm Trooper from the movie “Star Wars” up on stage near the drums. Shortly after, the band performed its version of the “Imperial March” followed by other rock staples, such as “Schism” by Tool, “Smells Like Teen Spirit” by Nirvana and “Walk” by Pantera. And for the fans of the video game “Halo,” Breaking Benjamin blasted the speakers with “Blow Me Away” and “I Will Not Bow,” ending the show with the roar from their guitars.
No doubt an encore was necessary, and Burnley was more than happy to oblige. To finish out the night, Burnley asked the crowd to pull out whatever light they could find to fill the pavilion with their own light, the band’s motivation and inspiration to perform. They slammed their thanks into the hearts of their fans, playing “Phobia” and “The Diary of Jane” to close an incredible show.
Following the performance, fans flocked to the merchandise stand to meet with some of the bands and ensure their copy of the music. Listening to the conversation among the fans, one thing was clear: Breaking Benjamin is definitely back, and better than ever.