Breaking Benjamin: The Best Kind of Heartbreak
Breaking Benjamin. The name evokes beautiful heartbreak for me. The last time I saw the band in concert I was in high school and I was in a bad place. Divorced parents and serious bouts of depression left me feeling more than I was capable of dealing with. There was a group of us who went and I remember being quiet on the car ride there. My best friend was with me, but I’ve never been good at socializing, so I didn’t speak much. That best friend, the one who saved me from myself more times than I can count, went on to kill himself a few years later. I tell you this because real life pain, fear and hope is what Breaking Benjamin is about.
Their poignant lyrics and heart wrenching vocals tell stories of emotionally overwhelming situations and the fight to push through such heartache and find beauty on the other side. My younger self didn’t know how to express what I was feeling, but I found solace in the words of others who seemed to understand. In a society where mental illness was and is still stigmatized we found our safe space in the songs of bands who were unafraid to say that they also felt this way and that we were not alone.
It was an incredible experience seeing them years later and realizing that their honesty hadn’t diminished at all. “Fuck perfect,” Benjamin calls to the crowd. He is referring to what he considered to be an off show. “The whole band feels like fucking shit, we are all sick, we all feel terrible, but we are not gonna cancel this shit. We are not gonna cancel a fucking show. I don’t care if I’m fucking comatose...I’m gonna be here on this fucking stage.”
The show sold out and turned out. The Tabernacle was full of fans young and old all singing their hearts out to every single song. The band opened with “So Cold” off of their 2004 album We Are Not Alone, then played “Angels Fall” off of their latest (2015) album Dark Before Dawn. They continued with “Sooner Or Later," “Blow me Away,” and “Simple Design." Then played a medley of covers that included “The Imperial March,” “for all you nerds out there,” “Bulls On Parade,” “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” “Walk," and “Sad But True.”
The band then brought Chris from Motionless In White to sing “Polyamorous.” Motionless In White played at The Tabernacle Tuesday night, the day after Breaking Benjamin. “Ashes Of Eden” was the next song and I knew I was going to cry at some point during the show, but I thought it would have been to one of their older songs. At the first hauntingly questioning notes the tears began to flow.
“Will the faithful be rewarded, When we come to the end? Will I miss the final warning, From the lie that I have lived? Is there anybody calling, I can see the soul within, And I am not worthy, I am not worthy of this. Are you with me after all, Why can't I hear you? Are you with me through it all, then why can't I feel you? Stay with me, don't let me go, Because there's nothing left at all, Stay with me, don't let me go, Until the Ashes of Eden fall.”
They moved quickly into the banger “Believe,” then to “Never Again,” “Breath,” “Failure,” “Until The End,” and another personal favorite “I Will Not Bow.” After some banter with the audience and a drum solo they played perhaps their most well known song “Diary Of Jane” as their encore.
People laughed as they streamed down the stairs and out of the venue. What a beautiful night.
Photos by Sidney Spear for Bullet Music