Currently touring in support of their new release Dark Before Dawn, Breaking Benjamin performed to a sold-out crowd at Revolution Live in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Fans arriving late found little room to move on the floor or otherwise. Though the venue was hot, the bars crowded, and the pit a solid wall of fans of all ages, there was no shortage of excitement. Fort Lauderdale stood ready to celebrate the rebirth of Breaking Benjamin.
I was one of those unlucky latecomers. I arrived on time and wrongly assumed I’d be able to make my way to the pit. Walking into a familiar venue, I was taken aback by the scene before me. It was wall-to-wall people, none of them willing to budge from their hard-earned spots near the stage, even if “near the stage” meant the staircase, the hall to the restrooms, or the pathway from the door to the pit. There is a love of fellow man inherent to rock and metal fans, but this loyal following of Breaking Benjamin respectfully declined to give an inch. In contrast, Breaking Benjamin graciously tossed bottled water to the crowd awaiting them. Eventually I made my way to the pit to await the solar eclipse cover art from Dark Before Dawn to light the stage and signal the arrival of Breaking Benjamin.
Breaking Benjamin has undergone major changes since 2009’s Dear Agony. However, even with the departure of all but lead singer and guitarist Benjamin Burnley, Breaking Benjamin has risen from the ashes of law suits and creative differences. Burnley has traditionally been the driving force behind Breaking Benjamin’s alternative rock sound, so new members Aaron Bruch (bass, backing vocals), Keith Wallen (guitar, backing vocals), Jasen Rauch (lead guitar), and Shaun Foist (drums) are seamlessly integrated. Tonight’s performance was purely Breaking Benjamin. They have not veered from their sound, but rather adopted it, experimented with it every so slightly, and honored it completely. The 23-song set was full of swelling choruses, haunting instrumentals, and grinding guitars. Burnley’s vocal conviction took the audience on an emotional trip. Over 1,000 fans moved fluidly from fist-pumping to silent swaying, a testament to the intensity of Burnley’s soul-driven lyrics and their marriage to his instrumental compositions. Prosody has never been so cool.
Camaraderie among the band was evident throughout their show. The addition of Bruch and Wallen’s live vocals added a new layer to the live performance. After opening with “So Cold,” Breaking Benjamin wove new hits “Angels Fall,” and “Failure,” into their set of platinum singles. The crowd erupted in cheers of approval when treated to covers of “Who Wants to Live Forever,” “Imperial March,” and “Smells Like Teen Spirit.” Fans inside danced and cheered, high-fiving and raising their glasses in the air. Those forced outside by heat and overcrowding socialized little and listened closely, occasionally peeking inside to catch a glimpse of Burnley in his military-style shirt, throwing his mic to the audience as they sing aloud with lyrics familiar to them for over a decade.
In “Ashes of Eden” off Dark Before Dawn, Burnley pleads “Stay with me, don’t let me go.” It is evident the audience took those lyrics to heart as the venue didn’t clear out for hours after the show-closing tune, “Diary of Jane.” Undeterred by the heat, unaffected by the cramped venue, fans carrying arms full of t-shirts and CDs left reluctantly, but excited and approving of the Breaking Benjamin of old/new. If you’re planning on catching Breaking Benjamin on tour, book now and arrive early. Tour dates have been announced through November 24th, 2015 and can be viewed at breakingbenjamin.com.