Five Finger Death Punch and Breaking Benjamin dominate New Jersey With Larger Than Life Lineup
Five Finger Death Punch, Breaking Benjamin, Nothing More and Bad Wolves Bring Hard Rock and Metal To The Masses on Summer Tour
With the Summer concert season coming to an end, Five Finger Death Punch and Breaking Benjamin are just getting started. The highly successful and acclaimed summer tour, co-produced by Live Nation and Frank Productions, finds the two hard rock and metal heavyweights joined by newcomers Bad Wolves, as well as the always show stopping Nothing More. The massive tour began on July 17th in Seattle, and it was time for us at Shutter 16 to see what all the fuss is about.
I made my way to Camden, NJ’s BB&T Pavilion for what was, without a doubt, the biggest tour in hard rock and metal. Say what you want about it but numbers don’t lie.
Doors opened up bright and early at 5pm, and, trust me, get there early as Bad Wolves hits the stage at 6pm and they’re a band you don’t want to miss! Fans apparently felt the same because the lines were formed and the excitement could be felt up and down the lines. One of the seriously cool things about this tour is the band’s and concert goers helping a great cause.
Fans purchasing a ticket to the tour are also supporting two charities that are close to the co-headliners hearts, as they are donating a portion of every ticket sold to two charity organizations. Five Finger Death Punch has chosen C.O.P.S – Concerns Of Police Survivors, an organization whose mission is rebuilding shattered lives of survivors and co-workers affected by line of duty deaths, through partnerships with law enforcement and the community. On July 21st in Boise, ID, the Boise Police Department presented Five Finger Death Punch with an award for their continued financial and emotional support.
Breaking Benjamin has chosen Prevent Child Abuse America to help counteract the abuse and neglect of our nation’s children by promoting services that improve child well-being and developing programs that help to prevent all types of abuse and neglect. So when you buy a ticket for this show feel good knowing you’re supporting art and important causes directly!
Now you’ve probably heard about the tour’s opener Bad Wolves, thanks to the band’s rendition of The Cranberries classic “Zombie”. They quite literally dominated the airwaves and even YouTube. The band was originally set to record the song with Cranberries singer Dolores O’Riordan; unfortunately, due to her tragic passing, that never happened. However the band took things into their own hands and did what they could to help.
They released the track and in June at their New York City headlining show, and presented a $250,000 check to Dolores O’Riordan’s family onstage. Don’t be fooled though, Bad Wolves’ success was anything but an overnight one.
The band consists of veteran musicians, most notably the band’s vocalist Tommy Vext who has been hustling in this industry for longer than you can imagine. He’s known for singing in bands like Snot, Divine Heresy, and Vext, to name a few. Then there’s the band’s guitarist Doc Coyle, who was part of the legendary metal outfit God Forbid. Bad Wolves released their debut album Disobey in May and have been out on the road with great success ever since.
This was my first opportunity to catch the guys live and what a great way to do so, on such a gigantic tour. The band promptly hit the stage at 6pm and before you could blink Bad Wolves took the stage and owned it right off the bat; singer Tommy Vext has a thing for catching some air. The band’s performance is tight and the album’s tracks sound absolutely fantastic live. I love when a band delivers a performance that pumps you up to revisit the album, and Bad Wolves delivers that emotion Live, these tracks really come to life and shine.
Tracks like “Officer Down” and “Learn to Live” are captured through raw emotion, and the record “Hear Me Know” sounded incredible, especially thanks to the surprise appearance from the song’s featured artist Diamante. Tommy Vext, even picked a kid out of the crowd on the front barricade. He lifted him up and they performed the song together. This show had an extra special ending as the band performed their hit cover “Zombie”, the crowd performed backing vocals for them. However, when the song ended, that was the defining moment. Label mates Five Finger Death Punch joined them onstage to present them with a platinum plaque for the success of The Cranberries’ cover. Vext and Bad Wolves took time to thank the fans for making it all possible; it was nothing but love in Camden. I’m genuinely happy to see these guys receive all this success – they earned it. I highly recommend catching the band live and look forward to a headlining tour in the future. Bad Wolves Album Disobey is available now!
One of the most electrifying acts on the tour’s line up is Nothing More. The Texas boys are a three-time Grammy nominated, hard rock/progressive metal act with a ton of radio success. They continue to defy expectation and top the Billboard charts.
Singles like “This Is The Time (Ballast),” “Mr. MTV” and “Jenny” hit in the top 15 on the Billboard Mainstream Rock Chart. Nothing More returned in September of 2017 with their latest album The Stories We Tell Ourselves. The record’s first single “Go To War” hit #1 on rock radio and got the attention of The Recording Academy once again earlier this year. The latest single, “Just Say When”, shows the band’s versatility as a ballad. The music video for the track has been viewed more than 1 million times.
Nothing More is known for always putting on an incredible live show with chaotic energy and their massive stage prop called the Scorpion Tail.
The Scorpion Tail is a massive 14-foot tall Mad Max-like animated structure, built by the band’s bassist Daniel Oliver, from scrap metal and salvaged auto and motorcycle parts. Vocalist Jonny Hawkins rides the contraption onstage while simultaneously creating digital electronic effects for the songs, that uniquely adds to the bands one of a kind stage dynamic.
When Nothing More gets ready to hit the stage you can feel the crowd’s attention shift on the first note… all eyes face the stage and the craziness began. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it now, Nothing More is one of the best live rock bands on the planet! The band furiously took to the stage, with chaotic lighting to more atmospheric lighting and back to chaotic again. Frontman Jonny Hawkins doesn’t stay still and when he does it’s in masterful form. Bassist Daniel Oliver was found screaming and smiling to the extreme. It’s so clear, just from watching these guys, that they believe in and love these songs. The set is filled with cryo blasters firing off from the bottom of the stage, and fan favorite tracks like “Go To War” and “Jenny” had fans passionately singing along word for word.
As the set progressed so did anticipation for the one of a kind and memorable moment of any Nothing More show. Finally Hawkin’s made his way to the Scorpion Tail and catapulted himself way up above the stage and crowd to cap off the track “This Is The Time (Ballast)” and a cover of Skrillex “First of the Year”. For the bands finale, an outstanding and driven performance of the song “Salem (Burn The Witch)”.Fun fact: this song features bassist Daniel Oliver and guitarist Mark Vollelunga trading in their instruments for some drums while Hawkin’s played the drums on the Scorpion as well as played his bandmates drums. Their show, like always, was unique, fun, unforgettable, and the perfect mix on this tour. Pick up Nothing More’s latest album The Stories We Tell Ourselves.
Next up was the first of the co-headliners of the evening, Five Finger Death Punch. The band released their newest effort And Justice For None back in May. The album has sold over 100,000 copies, which is no easy task these days.
The record also generated over 100 million U.S streams and 250,000 digital song sales in the U.S. With these kind of numbers it’s no wonder this tour is in high demand.
And Justice For None is the band’s fifth straight top five album release, and is without question one of the top hard rock/metal albums of 2018.
Five Finger Death Punch has once again proved why they’re larger than life both on and off stage, bringing their brand of intensity and pushing the envelope into new territories.
As Five Finger Death Punch began, a black curtain hung in front of the stage. An intro in the form of a creepy rendition of the children’s classic Barney (Yes, Barney, the big purple dinosaur) theme song “I Love You” blurred through BB&T’s speakers.
Chuckles and laughter could be heard from all those old enough, like myself, to remember that purple children’s character.
As the curtain dropped the song “Lift Me Up” began and pyro blasted into the air. 5FDP took the stage, aiming to show just why this is one of the top selling shows of the summer and boy did they.
Vocalist Ivan Moody carried himself back and forth across the stage, signaling to audience members and connecting directly with the fans, even if on a large stage. Size didn’t matter. The band barreled through tracks like “Wash It All Away” and “Jekyll and Hyde” with flames shooting from behind the entire band. A large skull was the backdrop and it was the band’s most elaborate stage show that I’ve seen in years.
Moody isn’t the only showman in the group either. The entire band interacts with the fan’s like bassist Chris Kael making faces at the crowd or guitarist Zoltan throwing guitar picks to the kids in attendance. I don’t know what changed since I saw them last, but these guy’s had a new kind of energy, a renewed love for performing I don’t know what exactly but whatever it may be it equaled a damn good show.
The highlight for me was seeing the song “The Bleeding” performed live and the crowd going nuts during it. They brought fun and excitement back to a metal show and it was more than refreshing, it was needed. The performance left me, and I’m sure some of the band’s naysayers, understanding just why Five Finger Death Punch might be the biggest metal band around in 2018. You can purchase or stream And Justice For None at the band’s official website.
The night’s final act, Breaking Benjamin, have spent much of 2018 on the road and with good reason. They had quite the start to 2018 and the band doesn’t look to be slowing down any time soon. This year, Breaking Benjamin already had a very successful North American Tour with Avenged Sevenfold and Bullet For My Valentine, then the band released their highly anticipated sixth studio album Ember (Hollywood Records) on April 13th. Breaking Benjamin’s newest album is the follow up to 2015’s Dark Before Dawn, which debuted at number 1 on Billboard’s Top 200 and was lead by three number on rock radio tracks. Now with the release of Ember, Breaking Benjamin have once again risen to the top of the rock genre!
The band always puts on a great show, so I was more than excited to catch these guys live again. As the band began, Breaking Ben took the stage with a white curtain and when it dropped the band wasted no time with the track “Red Cold River” and some pyro of their own. The song which was the first of three tracks performed from the band’s latest album, Ember, the other two being “Torn in Two” and “Psycho”. Band founder Benjamin Burnley led the charge, with a show that featured every member of the group along with a series of special effects. Flames and smoke shot into the air on an almost regular basis. Breaking Benjamin delivered 16 songs, including a 10-minute medley of “The Imperial March”, Tool’s “Schism”, Nirvana’s classic “Smells Like Teen Spirit”, Pantera’s “Walk”, and Metallica’s “Sad But True”. That was followed by a solo from the band’s drummer Shaun Foist. The crowd sang religiously to every song, at times so loud that one could barely hear Ben’s vocals. The setlist covered a wide range of BB classic tracks. Songs like “I Will Not Bow” from Dear Agony to the track “Blow Me Away” and of course the hit’s “So Cold”, “Sooner or Later” and “Believe”, which featured guitarist Keith Wallin and bassist Aaron Bruch on vocals. Burnley and Breaking Benjamin proved once again why 2018 has taken them back on top of the world of Hard Rock.
Pick up Breaking Benjamin’s latest album Ember. The tour teaming these four bands is truly one of a kind and something special. The value here is unbelievable and each band delivered stellar performances on their terms. After attending the show for myself, it’s easy to see why this is the Summer blockbuster. These bands and this tour succeeds because of each performer’s passion and the diversity in each band truly making this a show that offers something for everyone.
Due to the tour’s high fan-demand, Five Finger Death Punch and Breaking Benjamin have announced the expansion of this co-headlining North American Outdoor Amphitheater tour with additional dates, which will take both bands on the road through Fall 2018. On the Fall leg of the tour, Bad Wolves will once again join the trek on select dates and Swedish heavy weights In Flames on other select shows. Also joining the tour this Fall are rockers From Ashes To New.
If you can’t make it out to the Summer shows, I recommend you don’t miss the Fall stops as this is a once in a lifetime kind of tour. For the full list of dates and ticket information head on over to Five Finger Death Punch’s official website!