LIVE REVIEW: Breaking Benjamin weather the storm in Saratoga

Breaking Benjamin
Chevelle
Three Days Grace
Diamante

July 30th, 2019
Saratoga Springs, New York

It’s always pretty interesting to realize just how big some bands are.
Obviously a summer amphitheater tour is a pretty good first indicator, but once you’re actually there, in the center of the whole thing, it really clicks and you can see the full operation.
It’s also always good to have the occasional night of… let’s say low-maintenance work. And by that I mean it was almost guaranteed to have good lighting and sound and setup, so it wouldn’t have the same potential hurdles as a small show could bring. Luckily, these assumptions were confirmed throughout the night, making a great block of performances even better. 

The night started off as picture-perfect as you could hope for an outdoor summer show – sunny, warm, a packed lawn but not crowded, and pain-free traffic. First opener DIAMANTE kept the good vibes going with a high-energy, high-excitement performance. A high-percentage of thunderstorms were also on the lineup, and almost on cue, as the stage cleared out, the looming warning of an impending storm stopped being a warning and became a very wet reality. While DIAMANTE’s equipment was being removed and Dorothy’s was being checked, the clouds opened up and those “severe weather warnings” lived up to the red flags. The show was put on hold for about an hour and the lawn was ushered down into the covered amphitheater, and thankfully this happened at a point early enough in the night that moving a mass of people indoors didn’t overwhelm the rest of those seated inside. More on this later, but at that time, the delay was a bummer, but all in all it was pretty painless.

It was just shy of an hour before things cleared up and dried out. It wasn’t clear skies for everyone; due to the time constraints, Dorothy’s set was cut from the schedule. I don’t know all that much about the fanbase or how many of those in attendance were there for them, but it’s always a downer when someone gets dropped. But the show must go on, and everyone who worked to make sure that it did deserves their commendation. 

After a break that was longer than the performances up to that point, Three Days Grace had the hefty task of not only coming in and giving their fans a great show, but more or less starting things off from scratch. Understandably, there were probably those in attendance who were a little bothered, a little tired, and more than a little damp, but none of that held anybody back. From start to finish the building was alive with fans screaming along, most notably during standouts like “Good Life” and closer “Riot,” where I saw a father (or at least I’m hoping it was his father) pick up his son and put him onto his shoulders, but when the kid wanted to get even higher, told him to throw him in to the air and up he went, hands forming devil horns and a smile as wide as it could go. Other big singles like “Pain” and “Never Too Late” brought louder responses from the less-than-diehards, and “Animal I Have Become”–preceded by a snippet of “Seven Nation Army”–flowed perfectly and was a very cool addition. 

Final support from Chevelle laid the last bit of groundwork for the night before Breaking Benjamin’s headlining set, and the trio controlled the stage probably as much as I’ve ever seen a three-piece manage to. After my three songs in the photo pit, rather than going back and hanging out in my seat, I decided to take the opportunity to walk around and watch the show from various places on-site. At the start, I was able to glance back into the seats quickly and as I wandered around, it was a similar sight no matter where I ended up. Whether it was a standing-room spot in the pit, a seat fifteen rows deep, or a group of friends lounging on the lawn, they had the crowd moving and singing along. “Jars” into “Send the Pain Below” was a heavy one-two punch, and later on I had the realization that their “The Red” is in fact not  Unwritten Law’s “Seeing Red,” though both songs are absolute jams. I had a handful of these “Oh! I know this one!” moments and each one was as enjoyable and exciting as the last.

Before Breaking Benjamin took the stage to close the evening out, there was another delay, though this one planned; Chevelle exited around 8:50 and it was on the later side of 9:30 when Breaking Benjamin started and, while a 40-minute intermission isn’t that big of a deal, when it’s the second one of the evening, some people were getting noticeably antsy. Those nerves and jitters turned to cheers the instant the lights fell, and the intensity held at that peak for the remainder of the night, even as more rain rolled in. Around the halfway point, a second storm swept through, making a mess of things again but another round of rain and wind didn’t seem to sway anybody. During a mashup medley including “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” “Bohemian Rhapsody,”  “Enter Sandman” and more, security started to let some lawn patrons fill in the back rows and the additional voices and energy kicked things up even further. The medley finished with a fantastic extended drum solo before dropping into “Sooner or Later.” 

Whether it was newer tracks like “Tourniquet” and “Red Cold River” or decade-old favorites like “So Cold” and “Polyamorous,” fans of any level of dedication were kept entertained and left satisfied. And even with the two bouts of precipitation, three if you count the encore of “Rain” and “The Diary of Jane,” I don’t know that I noticed any other cars leaving before the end of the set. 

Last month when I did my Warped Tour writeup, I mentioned having people seem surprised when certain bands were still touring or that other bands still have their dedicated fanbases, etc. So while I was on one side of the fence during that, I was partially on the other this time. And while I was still aware that these bands all still toured, I really didn’t know they were still on this level. I personally hadn’t seen Breaking Benjamin in at least fifteen years, but I was just as impressed as if I had been a devoted fan from day one.

It’s always fun to find new artists and become a fan, but just as great to rediscover others.

Setlist:

Red Cold River
I Will Not Bow
Never Again
Breath
Sugarcoat
Polyamorous
Medley: The Imperial March / Cowboys From Hell / Smells Like Teen Spirit / Bohemian Rhapsody / Enter Sandman / Bulls On Parade / Drum Solo
Sooner or Later
Blow Me Away
So Cold
Tourniquet
Angels Fall
Dance with the Devil
Failure
Torn in Two
Encore:
Rain
The Diary of Jane