On a hot Sunday in late July (the 21st, to be exact), the Hollywood Casino Amphitheatre in Maryland Heights played host to what can best be described as a mini-festival. St. Louis radio station The Point hosted Breaking Benjamin's first show of their summer tour, with a packed bill of some of the hottest acts in the hard-rock and metal genre working today. It was definitely warm out, but it was worth every drop of sweat for these acts.
Leading off the afternoon was up-and-coming star Diamante. With flashes of azure in the sun from her hair whipping in a frenzy, Diamante's powerful voice roared through the amphiteatre like a creature alive and looking for its next victim. Starting off with the single “Haunted,” the set was powered by Harley DeWinter behind the kit and directing the whole performance, Jacob Stibbie and Dre DiMura shredding on the six-strings, and Matthew Denis thundering in with the bass to tie it all together. Along with other singles “Sleepwalking” and “War Cry,” the set was accented by Diamante's solo take on “Hear Me Now,” the Bad Wolves song she collaborated on, as well as the live performance of “When I'm Not Around,” a new track written by Diane Warren that released to the wild on August 2. Diamante will be on tour throughout the rest of this year, and if you have the chance to see this incredible band, make sure you jump at the chance.
Dorothy took the stage next. From the southern California rock scene and led by the powerful vocals of Dorothy Martin, with Devon Pangle on guitar, Eliot Lorango on the bass, and Jason Ganberg behind the kit, Dorothy delivered a killer set. With tracks like “Naked Eye,” “Raise Hell,” and “Who Do You Love”, the band brought their amazing sound to the crowd. With this being the first stop on the road for this tour, there did seem to be some technical issues they were battling, but from the seats, I can't honestly say I noticed anything. If there were issues with delivering sound to the monitors for the performers, I can see how that could lead to real problems, and since I'm not an artist on those stages, I won't dismiss the how big of an effect that could have. But speaking just as a fan and audience member, the sound for Dorothy's set was incredible, and I can't wait for their next trip through!
Next up, right in the middle of the action, Three Days Grace stormed the stage. Brothers Matt and Brad Walst (vocals and bass, respectively) led the charge, with Barry Stock's screaming guitars, and Neil Sanderson pounding away from the throne, opening with “The Mountain,” into “Home” and onto the party-rocker “The Good Life.” This band has an incredible energy on stage, and on top of that, they look like they're having a great time. With single-hits like “Pain” and “Infra-Red,” the crowd was with them every step of the way, singing along, cheering, and just being in the spirit of a great rock show. Closing out the set with “Riot” may have sent a slight shiver down the spines of anyone who's been around the Amphitheatre for the entire 27-year history, but all stayed calm…or as calm as a summer rock concert should be, anyway.
In a demonstration that less can occasionally be more, Chevelle took the stage next. The trio of heavy hitters from Illinois – Pete Loeffler on lead vocals and guitar, Dean Bernardini on the bass, and Sam Loeffler behind the drums – hammered home every note of every song in their set. “Young Wicked” and “Get Some” started the set off right, before diving into “Face to the Floor,” “An Island,” and “Door to Door Cannibals.” Bernardini and Loeffler's rhythm unit pounds away relentlessly while the younger Loeffler's vocals and guitars bring the stories of each song to life. “Send the Pain Below” and “The Red” led right into set-closer “I Get It,” and Chevelle walked off the stage having delivered a memorable show for everyone in Maryland Heights.
Headlining the tour, Ben Burnley and friend – collectively, Breaking Benjamin – hit the stage behind a plain white Kabuki drop before revealing the stage, the band, and the fiery eye of the “Ember” album watching over it all in a burst of sound and pyro. Coming out to the ripping sounds of “Red Cold River” and then immediately into “I Will Not Bow,” Burnley and his crew – Jasen Rauch and Keith Wallen on guitar, Shaun Foist on drums, and Aaron Bruch with the bass – took no prisoners right from the jump. Lucky fans took up VIP spaces on the wings of the stage as they played through all their hits, from “Never Again” and “Breath” through “Sugarcoat” to “Polyamorous.” Under moody lights, punctuated by bright flashes and flames reaching the rafters, Breaking Benjamin delivered the visual spectacle their live shows are known for. After a medley that brought in a blend of every genre of music – from John Williams movie scores to Nirvana and Metallica and even the second time this summer I've heard “Bulls On Parade” reinterpreted – they went right back to the hits with “Sooner or Later” and “Blow Me Away.”
Closing out the main set of the night with “Failure” and “Torn in Two,” the band hit the stage for their encore, delivering more of what the audience wanted. “Rain” led off the closing nod, while the super-hit “The Diary of Jane” brought to a close the first show of this summer tour with style and flare. Maybe it's because they've been out on tour for a while previously with this set-up, it's easy to forget this is the first show of a new run. If this is an indicator of how the shows are going to go, then everyone down the line is definitely in for a treat!