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Breaking Three Leaf - Good ninja movie title, great concert

February 18, 2010 - Keith Frederick
Last night, my wife, Amy, and I went to the Breaking Benjamin/Three Days Grace/Flyleaf concert at the Bryce Jordan Center. Somehow, in our 10 years together it was the first real concert we had ever gone to together. Happy Valentine's Day to us.

We were very excited for the show, as Three Days Grace is one of our favorite bands. And we weren't disappointed.

Some thoughts I jotted down during the show:

Flyleaf

Flyleaf's lead singer, Lacey Mosley, is wearing a frilly pink prom dress looking thing, over a pair of jeans. Strange.

The band members, oddly, seem oblivious to each other, each doing their own thing. The bassist never moves more than a foot in each direction. The rhythm guitarist is headbanging constantly, like he's in his own little world. And the lead guitarist looks really different from everyone else, like he walked into the wrong concert and said, "Screw it, I'm just gonna play with you guys." Along with the drummer, none of them ever really acknowledges the crowd.

Mosley is a good, energetic singer with a decent growl during the harder portions of the set list. The band is musically solid, but overall they sound a bit limited. Each song sounds basically the same, except for their biggest hit, "All Around Me," from their debut album.

A good set for the Christian rockers, but nothing that's really going to make a lot of new fans.

Three Days Grace

It was a very long wait until Three Days Grace came on - did Flyleaf play a short set or something? - but it turned out to be very worth it.

From his first moment on stage, singer Adam Gontier constantly interacted with the crowd, making you feel like you were at an extremely good, extremely large club show. The best singers in clubs are those that make you feel like they're singing every line right to you.

Bigger bands lose that feeling. From my personal concert experience, Aerosmith felt like that - as though Steven Tyler was just going through the motions. But Gontier and 3DG were all about the party.

Musically, the band was just as tight as on their albums. A highlight from a musical perspective was a long drum and keyboard solo on a rotating drum riser by drummer Neil Sanderson. This led to more crowd interaction, as Sanderson finished his solo and a spotlight hit Gontier, who had snuck behind the fans on the floor to start the next song from atop a table near the lighting/sound crew.

From a show perspective, the band brought a good amount of spectacle. While the light show was average, 3DG made up for it with pyrotechnics. Each of the band's big songs was accompanied by giant plumes of flame which shot into the air in time with the song's beat. (Lead guitarist Barry Stock seemed to enjoy getting as close as possible to the flames, whose heat we could feel even in the stands. Dude, by careful, you're gonna Hetfield yourself!)

Closing the show with pounding songs "Riot" and "Animal I Have Become," Gontier and co. provided an incredible show that had most of the crowd on their feet and singing along the whole time.

Breaking Benjamin

I'm shocked how minimal Breaking Benjamin's stage setup is. (It may have looked better from a different angle, though. We were sitting off to the side of the stage.) They have big screens showing the videos for the songs they're singing, and random, strange images for the songs that don't have videos.

Gontier of 3DG felt like a star, the lead singer of BB, Benjamin Burnley, doesn't. Playing to the crowd isn't saying "I can't f---ing hear you!" again and again. It's a real letdown after the last performance, as evidenced by the fact that most of the crowd is now sitting down, and there aren't many people singing along. A lot of the fans in the pit seem to love the show, but I don't understand why. (Maybe the PA connection, since BB is from Wilkes-Barre.) Maybe I'm just too biased because 3DG is one of my favorites.

BB is covering Aerosmith's "Dream On," as photos of dead rock stars are shown on the screens. This seems cheap, pandering. The crowd cheers much louder when the dead performers' names come up, seemingly showing they don't know the musicians by more than their names. Layne Staley, Keith Moon, John Bonham, Stevie Ray Vaughn - they all get this treatment.

The sad thing is BB sounds and feels more like an opening band, even during songs I love, like "So Cold" and "Polyamorous." The weak fog machines that act as props are tame at best. Then another section of cheap applause as Burnley dedicates a song to the Armed Forces that seems to have nothing to do with the military.

I've never left a concert during the headliner, but we left about 45 minutes into BB's set. It's not that they were bad, really. It's just that they werea letdown after Three Days Grace. It seemed like a real mistake to have them go on last. After the high-energy, non-stop 3DG show, there was little hope of keeping the fans at that level.

Still, 3DG exceeded my wildest expectations, so this concert was a great one.

 
 

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Blog Photos

Breaking Benjamin The cast of "Twilight" looks really upset for some reason.