Semi-stormy Labor Day festivities included an all-night emo-metal celebration at Darien Lake Amphitheatre with a lineup of four bands at the top of the genre. Headlining Breaking Benjamin followed sets by Five Finger Death Punch, Nothing More, and Bad Wolves.
A quick note for those unfamiliar with the music: despite bad-boy band names, wailing music, and thug-like appearances, songs are teeming with sensitive musings on individual and universals states of affairs. Between bands a recording alerted the audience that a percentage of the night's proceeds benefited Saint Jude's Children's Research Hospital.
Benjamin Burnley, Breaking Benjamin founder and frontman, jumped off stage during their encore to perform amid fans, spending much of one song ("Believe") standing and playing guitar in front of Vincent Martinelli of Rochester.
In motorized wheelchair and alongside seats near the stage, his delight was obvious. Martinelli's companion, Matthew Rozycko, said they were moved closer by venue employees.
"Red Cold River" opened the band's powerful set that featured guitarist Keith Wallen on lead vocals for "Sooner or Later," and extended solo by drummer Shaun Foist. A five-song instrumental medley early in the set included the "The Imperial March" from "Star Wars" and Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit."
As a recording of Barney's "I Love You Song" played, Five Finger Death Punch waited for a big black curtain to fall before launching into its own set of intensity. "Jekyll and Hyde," leading into a cover of "Bad Company" by Bad Company was a high point.
During "Remember Everything," performed acoustically, the musicians brought to stage seven kids (a few parents in tow), bringing up the house lights. "I want these kids to see everything," said lead vocalist Ivan Moody. After "The Bleeding," an encore song, they tossed set lists, picks, and water bottles to the audience.
Nothing More, from San Antonio and featuring the best set of naked abs in the music industry (Steven Hayden, rivaling those of Iggy Pop), opened with "Do You Really Want It?" for a solid stream of music closing with feministic "Salem (Burn the Witch)."
L.A.-based Bad Wolves kicked it all off, no strangers to the reported 15,000 before them. Lead singer Tommy Vext noted that the night had nearly been canceled because of storms: "The show's goin' on!"
Before their closer, a gorgeous cover of The Cranberries' "Zombie," Vext announced that the band donates proceeds from this song to the three children of The Cranberries late singer, Dolores O'Riordan.
Breaking Benjamin, Five Finger Death Punch, Nothing More, Bad Wolves, Sept. 3 at the Darien Lake Amphitheatre.
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