August 9, 2016 Disturbed & Breaking Benjamin Fires Up Jones Beach, NY 7-30-16 w/ Alter Bridge & Saint Asonia
Rock/Metal struggled to find an identity toward the end of ’90s when an off-shoot of sub-genres formed including Post-Grunge and Nu Metal. While some Metal critics denounce the period, it was a prime time for emerging artists, especially as Grunge Rock began to transcend into the shadows. Among the plethora of bands that have come and gone since the early 2000s, two which emerged into mainstream around this time were Disturbed and Breaking Benjamin. Different stylistically, the bands paved their own paths with Disturbed becoming recognized for offering a more traditional Heavy Metal sound and Breaking Benjamin being champions of modern Hard Rock. That being said, minus hiatuses, these new millennium Rock icons remain active fifteen plus years later, touring, recording new music, and most of all, sustaining relevance.
Moving forward into 2016, back on February 4th, Disturbed’s David Draiman made a surprising appearance at Breaking Benjamin’s show at Irving Plaza in NYC to join up with Benjamin Burnley to cover the David Bowie and Queen classic “Under Pressure.” An exciting duo, little did everyone know it was a prelude to a major co-headlining North American tour announcement to follow. Joining up with Alter Bridge and Saint Asonia, Rock fans have one of the best Hard Rock bills of the summer, one worthy of Amphitheaters. Going big, just a few weeks into the tour, they arrived at Nikon at Jones Beach Theater in Wantagh, New York on Saturday, July 30th, 2016. Usually a picturesque spot in the summer, with the bay on one side and the Atlantic Ocean on the other, this night would be met with rainfall, and despite that inclement weather, the bill was so good it nearly sold out the venue.
As the soaking, wet fans gathered to their drenched seats; it was time for the Canadian/American Rock supergroup Saint Asonia to take the stage. For those still unfamiliar with the relatively new project, Saint Asonia formed in early 2014 after Vocalist Adam Gontier departed from Three Days Grace a year earlier. Gontier teamed up with Staind’s lead guitarist, Mike Mushok, where at that point they were creating music just for fun. As things progressed, Eye Empire bassist Corey Lowery joined, along with former Finger Eleven drummer Rich Beddoe. After tireless practicing and forming a distinct sound, their self-titled debut album caught a lot of attention once it went public in July of 2015. Since then, they have toured, and toured some more, and on this night, they were ready to show Long Island who they are.
With the stage-decked out with a Saint Asonia backdrop, Gontier’s microphone stand was uniquely designed in the shape of a Terminator. This led the crowd with anticipated excitement as the band hit the stage and went into songs such as “Fairy Tale,” and “King of Nothing.” Gontier engaged with the audience, stating how the next track was a new song from their debut album and how he was eager for everyone to hear the album, by any means. While any artist hopes for the public to actually purchase their music, Gontier proved that what mattered was that fans enjoyed what they heard as they moved into that said new track, “Dying Slowly.”
Changing things up, and surprising the audience, the band went into Three Days Grace hits including “Just Like You” and “I Hate Everything About You.” Appreciative to hear the older classics, the excitement continued as Alter Bridge’s Mark Tremonti joined the band on stage during the single “Better Place.” Despite the shortened set, Gontier mentioned there was time for one more song as he informed the crowd that they were not there to promote one record, a few singles, and then disappear. With that, he promised that they were in it for the long hall and currently working on a second album. Opening up further, Gontier expressed how he spent the second half of his life to move on and to live his life the way that he wanted. Emotional and appearing to be in a good place, he thanked the fans who supported his decision before they closed the set with “Let Me Live My Life.” As Gontier said, this is not meant to be a one album novelty, and judging but the chemistry Saint Asonia has, fans should be ecstatic for their future.
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Next up was the Central Florida Rock act everyone knows as Alter Bridge. Initially formed in 2004 by former Creed members, Mark Tremonti (guitar/vocals), Scott Phillips (drums), and Brian Marshall (bass), then inviting The Mayfield Four vocalist Myles Kennedy to the fold. Since then, they released four successful studio albums including 2013’s Fortress. Despite taking some time off for Tremonti to concentrate on his other band, Tremonti, along with Kennedy spending time on the road with Slash and the Conspirators, Alter Bridge seem to be back in the saddle again with their fifth studio album, The Last Hero, due out in October. Anyone who has been to an Alter Bridge show know these guys live for performing, and no rust could be found as they were firing on all cylinders, ready to hit the stage.
Elate to see Alter Bridge back in full swing, many fans screamed atop their lungs as the band appeared on the platform going into 2007’s “Come to Life.” Tremonti, Marshall, and Kennedy continued to move around together with a visible bond between them as they played on with “Farther Than the Sun,” and “Ties that Bind.” Not stopping, the energy continued to flow with a rhythm that echoed nicely through the venue during “Isolation” and “Metalingus.” Knowing their time was limited, they wasted little time as Kennedy expressed his gratitude to the crowd stating, “Thanks for being troopers, putting out through the rain and being true Rock ‘N’ Roll fans,” before concluding the set with “Addicted to Pain” and “Rise Today.” Once wrapping up this North American run, they head overseas to Europe during late fall. Those stateside wanting more, have no fear, Alter Bridge will be back, especially with The Last Hero on the horizon.
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After a short break, the rain slowed down as mysterious darkness hit the stage just in time for Breaking Benjamin. Initially come together back in 1999, the Pennsylvania Rock act since have compiled quite a few hits with each album, platinum and gold status in sales. Then, shortly after 2009’s Dear Agony, the group went on a hiatus, one which fans thought was indefinite. Thankfully, there was some life in the Breaking Benjamin front in 2014 when Founder/Frontman Benjamin Burnley returned with a brand new lineup consisting of Jasen Rauch (lead guitar), Keith Wallen (rhythm guitar/backing vocals), Aaron Bruch (bass/backing vocals), and Shaun Foist (drums). By 2015, it was time for a new album, and Dark Before Dawn was more than a comeback, it was a message that Breaking Benjamin was alive and well.
As the music ignited, a large explosive batch of C02 hit during 2004 favorite “So Cold.” Obscured by smoke and fog, Burnley walked across the stage as he continued with his explosive delivery during “Angels Fall,” “Sooner or Later,” and “Blow Me Away.” The platform soon took a dramatic turn as Burnley walked to the front, informing, “Last people of Earth, united together to celebrate one thing and one thing alone. As we all know one by one, to the dark side.” A theatrical moment, Burnley raised a glowing red lightsaber as the venue cheered with excitement before the vocalist said, “This song goes out to Darth Vader,” as they rocked a rendition of the “The Imperial March.” Shortly after, a medley of songs that influenced the band were meshed together as they played Tool’s “Schism,” followed by Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” and Pantera’s “Walk.”
Working the venue from front to back, soon, silence hit the stage once more where a long introduction moved towards the classic 2002 cut “Polyamorous.” Thereafter, the pace slowed down with “Ashes of Eden” and the crowd participation was non-stop as a few managed to scream during “Believe.” Aware of the enthusiasm, Burnley interacted with the crowd as he demanded to hear them, “nice and loud,” a perfect way to segue into “Breath” as explosive and powerful looking C02 continued through “Failure” followed by “Until the End.”
Taking a moment to catch his own breath, Burnley paused to dedicate the next song, “To those that serve our country, those that protect our streets.” Receiving cheers, Burnley continued, “Without that service and sacrifices they make, we wouldn’t be here tonight at a Rock show.” With that, Burnley thanked the soldiers and law enforcement, “So we can do what we do in our lives.” A powerful moment in a politically torn country, loud cries of approving fans erupted as emotions ran high for “I Will Not Bow.”
Speaking more with the audience, Burnley pointed out their long time sound engineer Dan Korneff, who is actually from Long Island. He mentioned Korneff has been a part of all Breaking Benjamin’s albums, igniting Jones Beach to begin shouting one of their own’s name. Coming across sincere, Burnley continued to express how, on this particular tour, they have been giving the crowd their heart and soul. He mentioned how it is about the reciprocated love and respect, and even the members on the tour are like brothers to them. Burnley continued to state how incredible the crowd was and that they are nothing without them before closing with “The Diary of Jane” as sparklers appeared to fall from the rafters above the stage. A simply riveting live show, Breaking Benjamin not only gave their heart and souls, they captured everyone else’s as well.
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With the rain lighting up once again, the crowd did not seem to mind trekking through the puddles as they were too busy being excited for the finale of the night, Chicago’s own Disturbed. Coming a long way from their early days, it is astonishing how, back in 2000, Disturbed teamed up with Kittie, barely filling venues such as Irving Plaza. Now, 16 years later, they are a major festival headliner where fans shout out the classic Drainman line “Oh, ah, ah, ah, ah.” Despite their four year hiatus, Draiman, Dan Donegan (guitar), Mike Wengren (drums), and John Moyer (bass) did not skip a beat as they returned with a bang on 2015’s Immortalized. So, take the fact that most at Jones Beach had not seen Disturbed in six years combined with a strong new album, this night was ready to explode.
Barely containing their excitement, the crowd screamed as a montage of Disturbed displayed on the video monitors. Finally, cutting the tension, “Ten Thousand Fists” hit as the stage lit into flames. In response, fans raised their fists, and the adrenaline rush was spot on between the band and the crowd. Demanding the audience’s full attention, Draiman walked around the platform, raising his fists while the movement between Donegan and Moyer was filled with expressions, jumps, and natural enjoyment as they went into 2000’s “The Game” followed by the new tune “The Vengeful One.” At this point, many fans remained standing, still with their fists in the air, singing along to favorites such as “Prayer” and “Liberate.” From here, Draiman asked to see the Metal horns as they moved into 2010’s “The Infection” followed by the classic “Stupify.” A signature Disturbed track, Draiman asked the audience to get “filthy” with him as he had everyone scream “fuck” while pointing out different areas of the venue.
Having complete control of the crowd, the stage turned black while music lingered as many voices could be heard screaming “Disturbed!” As the lights went back on, Draiman was sitting down, looked into the massive crowd and he said, “Raise your phone and lighters because now is the time,” and with that, they went into their cover of the timeless Simon and Garkunkle song “Sound of Silence.” A cover that does the original justice, fans cheered and sang along to the acoustic progression as Draiman delivered beautifully unique vocals. Another intense moment considering the death and destruction going on around the world, Disturbed picked the mood right back up with “Inside the Fire” soon followed with pyro flaring across the stage.
Shortly after, Draiman announced, “Ladies and gentlemen, it is time we request a moment of audience participation. I want each and every one of you to grab your cell phones and lighters in the air. Only do it when I say ‘The Light.”” Looking at the audience, he asked if they were with him, to which they obliged as the band went into “The Light.” At a place as beautiful as the Jones Beach waterfront, it was remarkable to see the venue lit up so brightly, a moment that had the band and fans in awe. It was the last leg of the set as they went into “Stricken” before Draiman thanked everyone for showing up in spite of the rain. He continued to express how the rain did not matter because the crowd felt strong, powerful, and indestructible as they segued into the title-track from 2008’s Indestructible followed by “Voices.” Draiman mentioned to his Jones Beach family that everyone were infected with the sickness, naturally as they concluded with “Down With The Sickness.” Letting his emotions take over, Drainman shouted, “Disturbed is my blood,” as he had everyone shout out “Disturbed!” a few times before he concluded by saying, “We are disturbed!”
It was evident that Disturbed has grown into an indestructive live band where they give their fans everything imaginable, from an elaborate stage show to heart-pounding performances. Those who missed this show, or do not have time to catch this tour before it concludes on August 19th, Disturbed will continue touring North America throughout the fall and will soon infect places across the globe such as Japan, Australia, and all over Europe.