­     The crowd was lined up around the block outside The Fillmore this past Saturday night waiting to see alt rock heavyweights Breaking Benjamin headline the venue on their “Dark Before Dawn” tour.   The band last made an appearance in Charlotte this past fall on their co-headlining run with KORN and it was clear from the throngs of fans that they were eager for more.

­     Opening up the evening with full on “f*ckery,” was the hard rock quintet Wilson.  Hailing from Detroit, Michigan, this five piece group is a tight unit playing classic rock sounds with a definitively heavier edge.  Frontman Chad Nicefield had a great stage presence as the band tore through songs from their latest record “Right to Rise” as well as crowd favorites from “Full Blast F*ckery” and a nicely done cover of AC/DC’s “Back In Black.”

­     In what seemed like no time at all, the venue lights dimmed and the audience got ready for Breaking Benjamin to hit the stage.  I’d like to take just a moment here to give a shout out to the band’s crew. I have been to many rock shows and it is extremely rare for the stage setups to be changed so quickly.  It was refreshing to not have to wait forever so hats off to them.  Drummer Shaun Foist was first to hit the stage as a faint figure became visible behind the drum kit.  One by one, the band took their respective spots as they began the evening with “So Cold”  as colored smoke shot up on the sides of the stage and drum riser appearing like flames. The venue erupted as front man Benjamin Burnley took center stage.  After the opening tune, Burnley took a moment to address the crowd explaining that he was sick as a dog and thought about having to cancel the performance but couldn’t disappoint everyone.  He then called on the audience to help throughout the evening and sing the words with him before launching into “Angels Fall” from their latest record “Dark Before Dawn.”  Despite his being sick, Burnley’s vocals seemed to be in fine shape and there were certainly no complaints from the crowd.  The band sounded fantastic with Breaking Benjamin’s true wall of sound featuring solid  vocal harmonies and layer upon layer of guitars.  This latest version of the band was formed in 2014 after Burnley’s return from an extended hiatus due to a chronic illness. This outfit seems to be working out well with guitarist Keith Wallen and bassist Aaron Bruch providing vocal leads at times and Jason Rauch adding another guitar to the mix.

­     The set comprised of four songs off their latest album including a fan favorite of the evening “Failure” as well as a good mix of older tunes.  With poignant lyrics and lush sounds, Burnley’s songwriting skills are in a league of their own and the sounds carried over well in a live setting.  A nice inclusion midway through the set was a medley that featured snippets of “The Imperial March” from the Star Wars movie franchise, “Bulls on Parade” by Rage Against the Machine, Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” and Pantera’s “Walk” before ending with Metallica’s “Sad But True.”  A rousing rendition of “I Will Not Bow” closed out their regular set and left the audience begging for more.  Ben and the band obliged returning to thank the crowd and give them one final song with the most anticipated of the night “The Diary of Jane.”

­     After experiencing such an amazing performance, it’s easy to understand why the band’s fan base is so passionate about their music.  Breaking Benjamin is definitely back and better than ever!

Set List:

So Cold

Angels Fall

Sooner or Later

Blow Me Away

Simple Design

Medley-The Imperial March (Star Wars theme)/Bulls on Parade (Rage Against the Machine cover)/Smells Like Teen Spirit (Nirvana cover)/Walk (Pantera cover)/Sad But True (Metallica cover)


Ashes of Eden


Never Again



Until the End

I Will Not Bow



The Diary of Jane

Photo Gallery

We would like to thank Lyssa Hurvitz from Hollywood Records for the credentials to review the show.

About The Author Kris Engelhart

I am a small business owner, freelance writer, and part-time piano instructor in Charlotte, NC. My musical career started at the age of five when I was forced into taking piano lessons. I played flute in the school band and added the guitar as a young teen. There is nothing I would rather do than be at a live show. My first concert was Shaun Cassidy at the Memorial Auditorium in Buffalo in 1978. My top five live shows ever are: 1. Bruce Springsteen and the E-Street Band – Memorial Auditorium, Buffalo, NY 1984- They played for 3 ½ hours and it was awesome. 2. Carolina Rebellion- Metrolina Expo Grounds, Charlotte, NC, May, 2011 – The first ever Carolina Rebellion featured over 15 bands with Avenged Sevenfold headlining. Non-stop music for over 12 hours. 3. Chevelle- Food Lion Speed Street, Charlotte, NC, May, 2008 - The first time I ever saw Chevelle live and I was hooked! 4. Skillet with Red- Bojangle’s Coliseum, Charlotte, NC, April, 2010 – Skillet is one of my favorite bands and they totally kick it live. 5. 106.5 The End’s Weenie Roast #9- Verizon Wireless Amiptheater, Charlotte, NC , October, 2003- Featured Staind, Shinedown, Three Days Grace.