There was a snowstorm warning issued for Rochester on Valentine's Day, but don't tell that to the large crowd gathered inside the Main Street Armory to get a first glimpse at the new Breaking Benjamin. The hard rock band had been on hiatus for the last five years, and after settling a certain amount of drama, the new line-up had chosen Rochester as one of only four cities to play its first electric tour since 2010.
The crowd was ready for a good time as the lights blacked out and a deafening roar arose from the sea of people. After opening with "So Cold," one of Breaking Benjamin's biggest hits, singer and guitarist Benjamin Burnley informed the crowd that he was sick, but that the audience could help by singing the songs with him -- which was met with great approval.
For a while, the band delved into older material from its first album, "Saturate," and the crowd noise died down slightly. However, as soon as Burnley thanked the crowd gave his gratitude, the band exploded with a fan favorite, "Shallow Bay," and the crowd finally let loose and never let up.
The performance was something to behold: Burnley remains one of the most talented and consistent vocalists in alternative metal and hard rock. With his new five-piece band, the music sounded like it came straight off their catalog -- sick vocalist or not. The other band members all played their hearts out and made for solid backing vocalists. One of the shining parts of the band's performance was its harmonies, especially in songs like "You," which was the first song of its encore.
During the end of the first set, Burnley addressed the crowd with minor details about a new album in the works. "We're hoping to bring some rock back with our new album. Keep an eye out," he said, which drew a massive cheer of approval from the masses. Burnley keeps a good sense of honesty in his lyricism, which obviously resonated with the crowd judging by the massive back and forth between him and the crowd. Not only that, he just comes off as a genuinely kind and caring person, which added to the tight-knit feel despite the large crowds.
The night really ended on a peak: During the last song of the encore, "Rain," all of the lights were turned up and the audience started the loudest sing-along of the night. "I want you to sing so loud they can hear it in the neighboring states," Burnley yelled. And it was loud and glorious. From where I was sitting, water had begun leaking through the roof and onto the crowd below. But nobody cared; it was quite fitting to have rain anyway.