Originally published in Through the Lens Magazine on March 31, 2016
Article and photos by Melodie Yvonne Ramey
FORT WAYNE, IN – Upon approaching Piere’s Saturday evening the first noticeable phenomenon was the tremendous line wrapped like a snake around the building. It slithered in and out of crevices utilizing every inch in order to make the most room for the enormous hordes of people. Often people time their travels to arrive mid to end of the opening act to avoid just such a colossal traffic jam. The opening band, Starset, has an amazing reputation, however, so the house was to be packed very early.
Starset is an American alternative rock band from Columbus, Ohio. Formed by Dustin Bates in 2013, they released their debut album Transmissions the following year. Some of their influences include Nine Inch Nails, Thirty Seconds to Mars, Deftones, Angels and Airwaves and Breaking Benjamin just to name a few. Leading the band on vocals and keyboard is Dustin Bates, Brock Richards is guitar & backing vocals, Ron DeChant is bass guitar, keyboard & backing vocals, and Adam Gilbert is on drums. Their stage design and costumes had the audience transfixed just as much as their spectacular songs. Their impressive light show was not just limited to the illuminations dancing above and around the stage. The costumes of all but the lead singers were adorned with lights on their helmets as well, like halos around their faces. They came to Piere’s to spread a broad awareness of “The Message” through music and media. Their fans were definitely out in droves, and receiving it clearly. Starset kept the audience riveted throughout the entire set with their symphonic resonance. By the end of their time they had them hungry for more, and hankering for the headliner.
The headlining act for the evening, Breaking Benjamin, is a rock band founded by guitarist, singer, and songwriter Benjamin Burnley. He is joined by Aaron Bruch on bass & backing vocals, Keith Wallen on rhythm guitar & backing vocals, Jase Rauch on lead guitar, electronic strings & programming, and Shaun Foist on drums, electronic percussion & programming. Breaking Benjamin packs houses from small venues to large stadiums with their mind melting melodies, and takes their breath away time and time again. They have always demonstrated a strong support for America’s troops and veterans with a fierce dedication making sure to call out their heroism every chance they can vocally and through music. This night would be no different as Benjamin himself delivered a heartfelt speech in support, and made sure everyone in house knew who to thank for their freedom. After the speech the band broke into a compelling and impassioned execution of “Unknown Soldier”. Although the front man woke up a little under the weather he was still determined to show Fort Wayne the best night of their lives. He enlisted the help of the audience to sing, and they were happy to oblige. Of course Aaron, Keith, Jase, and Shaun had Burnley’s back to aid on some vocals, and Dustin Bates of Starset even stepped up to the helm for a bit to take a chance at the mic. All in all they performed quite a few fantastic fan favorites from Breaking Benjamin’s older albums, a little of the phenomenal new melodies from Dark Before Dawn, and even some extraordinary covers like Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” to the delight of the masses.
As the evening drew to a close the band broke into a startlingly powerful rendition of “Give Me A Sign”, and Benjamin paused the song to thank his fans, and show his love. He told everyone how absolutely incredible they were, and how bright they shined on the inside and out. He then coaxed them to show their shine on the outside by turning on the flashlights on their phones, and holding them high in the air. The venue lights were all simultaneously cut, and the phone lights made up a blanket of stars lying softly atop the crowd, and comforting their souls. The house was a sight to behold as it glowed with a shine brighter than the Moon of Endor. It was truly a sign like a beacon shining in the dark for any lost souls trying to find their way home. The whole house finished the song together singing in one giant harmonious manifestation of love. Soon it was time for the end of the show, and the beloved band had to take their leave from the beautiful devotees. They slowly walked off stage leaving behind them a saddened crowd until they quickly reappeared for an encore performance of “Diary of Jane”.
From beginning to the very last second of the show the room remained wall to wall people. It seemed no one dared be late to miss this show, and not a soul was bothered by thoughts of leaving early to beat the traffic on the way out. In fact, any troubles that existed for any of these Hoosiers outside of Piere’s that night had already melted away long ago with the searing heat of the guitar riffs sailing through the air. The giant gathering was over with all too soon for everyone in the room including the band as they finally left the stage with just a hint of sorrowful hesitance in their strides. The show was finally over, but will never be forgotten by anyone present that night. Breaking Benjamin brings out that inner shine in people that sometimes no one else can. This extraordinary glow they brought to their fans that night at Piere’s will be there for eons of time to come, and will always be there to show these incredible men the way back to their second home in Fort Wayne, Indiana.
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