Breaking Benjamin has been in my top 5 artists to see live since high school. Needless to say, when I heard they were making a stop in Washington, I had to go. We managed to get the full Lemonade staff together and made our way up (or down in Brandon’s case) to Everett, WA. The concert was held at Xfinity Arena which isn’t a terribly large venue but definitely bigger than the small shows we regularly attend in Seattle. As we’ve learned in the last 12 months, I’m a wuss and need a seat, so we may not have had the best view in the house, but we made do.
Up first was Nothing More, a band from San Antonio, TX. Lead singer, Jonny Hawkins, entered the stage barefoot and shirtless and ready to rock, and boy did they rock! Following a brief discussion, Aaron and I agreed that Hawkins was a mash up of a young Steven Tyler and Jim Morrison both in looks and talent. Hawkins jumped around the stage through their brief set, never lacking in energy. At one point, they mounted a bass guitar and three of the band’s members played it and spun it around in an impressive instrumental break. Although I’m not familiar with the band, I enjoyed their set. They perfectly set the mood for the next band – the one I was eagerly awaiting – Breaking Benjamin!
The time had come! Breaking Benjamin took the stage and my heart filled with so much excitement I could hardly contain myself. Benjamin Burnley, the band’s namesake and lead singer, had a bit of a rough start vocally but after a couple songs he warmed up and was just as amazing live as he is on record. They covered a nice combination of new songs from their June release Dark Before Dawn and their past albums. I was able to hear most of my favorite songs and fall in love deeper with a few of their new ones. The highlight of their show, however, was a series of covers that opened with Burnley wielding a red light saber before breaking to an electric version of renowned composer, John Williams’s Imperial March from Star Wars: Episode V, The Empire Strikes Back. The fan girl in me went into overdrive, half expecting Vader himself to make an appearance. From there they went into a cover of Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” as well as snippets of others interspersed. A few songs later, Burnley began pulling members of the audience up on stage to close out the show with him. In an awesome, if not incredibly time consuming and energy killing, moment, the band performed their last song amongst their fans, at one point allowing them to touch Burnley’s guitar and tossing pics and drum sticks to them. Breaking Benjamin was everything I hoped they would be and I can honestly say I am not disappointed. If they don’t tour again, I’m happy I got to see them now.
Now, normally the transition between bands isn’t worth mentioning, but an honorable mention in the night’s show was editor, Brandon, throwing down to Jay-Z’s “99 Problems.” He wasn’t terribly keen on coming to this concert and Aaron and I might have had to force him out of his comfort zone. I was glad to see he was enjoying himself regardless of the fact that alternative rock may not be his favorite. Shortly thereafter, it was time for our headliner.
Last but certainly not least, Shinedown, was up next and while I wasn’t necessarily there to see them, they didn’t disappoint in the slightest. An intro from Disney’s Pinocchio and Avengers: Age of Ultron segued immediately into their opening song which was filled with pyrotechnics, fog machines, and intense lighting. Their first burst of sparklers startled me but I quickly learned to expect the loud bang that came with it. Again, they combined old fan favorites with their newer songs in a bright, dynamic performance that was sure to entertain. There was no question as to why they headlined as fire blasted from all over the stage and behind the drummer. Their final songs were the three of theirs that pretty much everyone knows: “Second Chance,” their cover of “Simple Man,” and “Sound of Madness” to close out the show. As they wrapped up, they also threw pics and sticks out to their adoring fans before leaving the stage. I must say, this was the first concert I have ever been to that didn’t have an encore, so that was a bit strange, but I suppose when your set finishes out with your biggest hits, there isn’t much to encore with.
What truly made this show special, aside from me being able to cross off a top 5 band from my bucket list, was how much appreciation both Breaking Benjamin and Shinedown showed their fans. In between songs, they made a point to mention how important the crowd was to them. Both bands encouraged the audience to get to know their neighbors and rock out with them all night. This show was phenomenal from start to finish. If you get a chance to see any of these bands live, I highly recommend it!
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