August 21, 2015 Breaking Benjamin Astound in Return to The Paramount Huntington, NY 8-15-15 w/ Young Guns & Starset
It seems that since a rejuvenated Breaking Benjamin announced their return it has been non-stop action for the band. Hitting the road for a successful acoustic tour in 2014, the band put out their new record Dark Before Dawn on June 23rd of this year, and continue to tour relentlessly. On another round of dates in August, this time with suport from Young Guns and Starset, the band returned to The Paramount in Huntington, NY on Saturday August 15th for the second time in less than a year.
During their first visit on October 25, 2014 the setting was acoustic, but this time they would be full on electric, and Long Island fans of all ages literally lined up around a block to enter the venue. The weather outside was warm, but the atmosphere inside of the venue was scorching in the hours prior to Breaking Benjamin taking the stage. It was clear that despite a band hiatus and six years between the release of their last album, Dear Agony (2009), Breaking Benjamin’s fanbase had not dwindled in the slightest. Over coming some personal issues and internal turmoils with now former members of the band, founder and sole original member, Benjamin Burnley (primary composer, lead vocals, and guitar) has kept Breaking Benjamin’s sound and style going strong with the new lineup of Jasen Rauch (guitar), Keith Wallen (guitar), Aaron Bruch (bass guitar), and Shaun Foist (percussion).
Minus the hiatus, Breaking Benjamin has boasted an impressive career with gold and platinum record holding statuses and hit singles among their four studio released albums: Saturate (2002), We Are Not Alone (2004), Phobia (2006), and Dear Agony (2009). Dark Before Dawn looks to also be rising to such levels, as many are saying that the music sounds recharged and more invigorating than ever. Full of life and energy , Breaking Benjamin prepared to rock the roof off of The Paramount in one of the longest sets their fans had seen in a while.
To start the evening off, Starset, a Rock group hailing from Columbus, Ohio, came out to deliver an out-of-this-world performance. Starset was founded in 2013 by frontman Dustin Bates. Bates, formerly of the band Downplay, serves as the lead vocalist, chief songwriter, and keyboardist for the band. In addition to his musical talents, Bates also holds a PhD in Electrical Engineering and a love for space and technology that is evident in the band’s style and sound. Complimented by Ron DeChant (bass guitar, keyboard, backing vocals), Brock Richards (guitar, backing vocals), and Adam Gilbert (percussion), the band released their debut album, Transmissions in 2014. This interesting band claims to be commissioned along with an organization of scientists, engineers, and researchers, coincidentally named The Startset Society, to spread through their music and social media platform, a message that contains the necessary knowledge to spare the future of humanity. Namely, the objectives range from keeping free flowing of thoughts that question the future, to fighting censorship and restrictions that government entities may impose on such activities, and to keep technological advancements from being monopolized. Whether this mission and/or objective be fact, fiction, or a clever blend of both, it certainly makes the band all the more intriguing.
True to their theme, Starset’s stage setup was infused with elements of technology and space imagery. The band members, save Bates, donned spacesuits with helmets that would light up and change colors in time to the music. Bates, clad in a white button down shirt, black bow tie, and thick black glasses, seemed to be a scientist and/or commander in charge, controlling the music, sound effects, and monitored projections, displayed on giant screens behind the band, with the aid of a clear center console table that could easily be a prop in a Star Trek movie. As the lights were still dim, what sounded like a broken broadcast signal came over the speakers, the intro to Transmissions, “First Light;” a voice was speaking about an important message to be broadcast, setting the tone for the rest of the performance or demonstration of The Starset Society objectives.
As the band came out, the broadcast merged into “Rise and Fall,” a track that seemed more like a call to arms, fueled with emotions that seemed heightened by the guitar riffs. Next was “Down With the Fallen” that started with the beeps and pangs of a heart monitor and ventilator that changed into a chorus of voices, the lyrics suggested defeat but searching for hope. At this point, Bates, very pleased, announced his happiness that he could see people singing along in the crowd. The band took a small break from the stage before the next song, as the audience was treated to a montage of space scenes on the giant monitors. Upon returning, Bates cried out, “Find something that makes you feel super-human,” as they began to play their latest single,”Halo.” Images of love, heroic rescue, and sacrifice came through in this track and continued on in a softer song, “Telescope.” Not to end on a quiet note, the band bursts into another raging hit single, “Carnivore.” Then Bates took some time to explain the missions of his band, the aforementioned objectives of The Starset Society and told the audience to look for a graphic novel coming out in December that will explain theirs and The Startset Society’s mission in further detail. To close an impressive set, “My Demons,” their first released single, got everyone joining in with the chorus and roaring with applause. Starset will continue on tour with Breaking Benjamin in the U.S. and Canada with dates from now until October 2nd, so try to check them out. Those interested in learning more about their background and The Starset Society, go to starsetonline.com.
If the objective of the evening was to showcase worldwide talent, it was certainly met when Young Guns took the stage. Hailing from England, the Alternative Rock band was formed in 2005 by a bunch of guys who had all tried their hand in other local bands around the areas of London as well as Buckinghamshire, and were ready to start something serious. That is just what they did when they formed this band. Young Guns; Gustav Wood (lead vocals), Fraser Taylor (guitar), John Taylor (guitar), Simon Mitchell (bass guitar), and Ben Jolliffe (percussion), released their first EP, Mirrors, in early 2009 and began touring in July of that year, opening for Lostprophets. As busy as the guys were, they found the time to record and debut their first album, All Our Kings Are Dead, under their own label, Live Forever, in July of 2010. While the success of their debut album caused them to climb the charts in the UK, it was the release of their second album, Bones (2012-2013), that rose Young Guns to international stardom and a record deal with Virgin EMI. As of June of this year, the band released their third album, Ones and Zeros, of which they are currently on tour promoting.
Opening with, “I Want Out,” their first single off of Ones and Zeros, Young Guns took the stage and took the audience into the palm of their hands. The venue, mostly packed at this point, excitedly fed back the energy that they were being delivered. The melodic Rock beats and catchy lyrics had everyone swaying and moving in time, especially during songs such as “Rising Up” and “Towers.” There was clearly a following in attendance, as unprompted clapping and chanting arose from the audience during, “Daylight,” another single off of Ones and Zeros. Wood took a pause between songs to thank the audience; the band, he stated, is deeply appreciative of the out-pouring of love that they have seen. He went on to say that Young Guns is still relatively new, only touring for about two and a half years in the U.S., and the acceptance that they have received is amazing.
Then with all sentiments aside, Young Guns cranked it up again with “Elements” and “Weight of the World.” The audience was jumping as the set winded down, and Wood suggested that they would play something to get Breaking Benjamin pumped to come out. They broke into what they said would be their last song, “Speaking in Tongues,” but despite claiming they were out of time, and perhaps due to the admiration of the crowd, they encored with “Bones,” a widely popular song in the U.S. since the song was one of the main theme songs for the World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) 29th Wrestlemania event. Young Guns are truly a phenomenal band on the rise. Be sure to check them out as they continue to tour with Breaking Benjamin until the end of this month.
Though the gentlemen of Starset and Young Guns had the crowd going, the energy in the theater erupted when Breaking Benjamin took the stage! Opening with “So Cold,” a hit single off of their sophomore album, the band had the entire establishment singing along. In fact, the crowd would sing along to every song throughout the evening. The intensity of the instrumental elements flowing perfectly along with the soulful voice of Burnley brought a tangible energy to each song, that was particularly evident in “Angels Fall” off of their latest album, and “Unknown Soldier,” a song that pays tribute to all fallen service men and women.
Known to cover a few other artists in their live performances, there was a melodic rendition of Queen’s “Who Wants to Live Forever” and very close to the original version of Tool’s “Ænema.” However, the most popular appeared to be a mashup of hits, “Imperial March/Schism/Smells Like Teen Spirit/Walk.” Interestingly enough, it was when Burnley was first starting out in 1998, that he received the nickname and subsequent band name “Breaking Benjamin” when he broke a microphone while covering a Nirvana song. Perhaps, this is why Nirvana covers tend to pop up in their live shows, or maybe Burnley just loves to pay homage to the music that heavily influenced him growing up.
With intoxicating stamina, Breaking Benjamin would transition from song to song with barely a pause to breathe in their nearly two-hour long set. They performed “Blow Me Away,” with the same ferocity that the song contained when it first debuted and gained popularity in the video game, Halo 2. It clearly was still a fan favorite as the audience started going wild. Other classics, such as “Breath,” “Away,” and “Give Me A Sign,” garnered the same response. During “Give Me A Sign,” when Burnley asked that all house lights be shut off and had the crowd light the venue up with only the glow of lighters and cellphones, created a very beautiful sea of human lanterns. Towards the end of this song, Burnley mentioned the upcoming Star Wars movie and how the crowd is singing for the “Whole fucking galactic empire!” Clearly space was a big theme this evening. Some diversity in the sound of the band shone through in “Phase,” where things slowed down a bit and bongos were being played alongside the traditional percussion. However, the band would end with the angst ridden “I Will Not Bow,” followed by an extended encore that included “Dance With The Devil,” and their most widely known hit, “The Diary of Jane.”
In sum, this supercharged evening was definite proof that Breaking Benjamin are back and are better than ever! The band is continuing to tour the U.S. and Canada on their Dark Before Dawn tour, with dates from now until October 3rd. The band will then join Shinedown on tour with select dates from October 16th through November 24th. It is quite evident Breaking Benjamin are making up for lost time and fans simply can not get enough.