Breaking Benjamin, Shinedown Prove Rock N’ Roll Is Alive And Well At Penn State

On a crisp Friday night before Penn State’s annual Whiteout game, a sense of jubilance could be felt throughout the valley. The streets were crowded, packed with students and alumni alike commuting to their respective party destinations. But the real party was underway at the Bryce Jordan Center, as Sevendust, Breaking Benjamin, and Shinedown converged in Happy Valley to put on a show for the ages.

I’m an avid Breaking Benjamin supporter, following the band since the release of its critically acclaimed second album “We Are Not Alone.” You can imagine the excitement I felt upon learning of Breaking Benjamin’s upcoming concert date, jumping at the chance to cover such a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. I walked into the Bryce Jordan Center feeling thrilled to see one of my favorite bands in person, but left with a newfound respect for a pair of groups I knew little about.

Sevendust frontman Lajon Witherspoon peers out into the crowd (Image: Jason Hann)

With fans filing into their respective sections, spacious floorspace allowed fans to tightly converge in front of the stage, creating an intimate atmosphere that gave the show that classic arena-rock electricity. Atlanta-based Nu-metal group Sevendust used that atmosphere to fuel its performance, as the group kicked off the show in rousing fashion with its edgy opener “Black,” followed by hit song “Driven.”

Boasting a sound reminiscent to Korn, Sevendust’s hardcore sound set the tone for a magical night of rock n’ roll, as the six-song setlist gave way to Ben Burnley and Breaking Benjamin.

Breaking Benjamin took to the stage around 7:30, and despite releasing the band’s fifth studio album “Dark Before Dawn” on June 23, the group played a diverse blend of material spanning album. “So Cold” and “Follow” from the band’s second album kicked off the band’s emotionally-charged set, segueing into “Angels Fall” off the group’s latest album. Fielding an entirely new lineup since “Dear Agony” released in 2009, the band still owns that unique sound fans have come to love — a notion that can be attributed to the musical genius of Burnley.

The Wilkes-Barre based group has always prided itself on being engaging with its loyal audience, and they didn’t disappoint on Friday night. Burnley constantly talked to the crowd in between songs, riling them up as he allowed them to light the arena with their cellphones after asking the stage manager to shut off all lights. After a Star-Wars/Nirvana/Metallica-themed tribute, the band gave fans a taste of some material from their debut album before breaking into critically acclaimed hit “Give Me A Sign.”

To end the set, Ben invited roughly fans spanning all ages up to the stage as he belted out “Diary Of Jane” to close out the highly anticipated performance, one that I’ll certainly never forget.

After a slight break, co-headliner Shinedown took center stage for the night’s final act, delivering a spirited performance for the ages. To be honest, I’d never seen Shinedown in person, let alone follow the band, so what ensued was an incredible new experience I won’t soon forget.

The band wasted little time, kicking off the adrenaline-fueled set with “Cut The Cord,” appropriately backed with flames and pyrotechnics as lead man Brent Smith belted out the resounding chorus. Typically known for energetic performances and driving power chords, the bandmates seemed to be having the time of their lives as they rocked the night away to hits like “If You Only Knew” and “Second Chance.” Smith took time to pay tribute to iconic staple Lynyrd Skynyrd with their classic hit “Simple Man,” captivating the enthusiastic crowd as it continued along.

“Sound Of Madness” concluded the night’s festivities in style, as the hardcore group took a bow and left the stage. It was a special occasion, Bryce Jordan Center was fortunate enough to boast two main headliners of such great magnitude. The show was powerful and electrifying, and helped affirm the notion that, despite current musical trends, that rock n’ roll is alive and well in Happy Valley.

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About the Author

David Abruzzese

David is a senior from Rochester, NY, nestled right in beautiful Western New York. He is majoring in Broadcast Journalism, and as an avid sports fan, he passionately supports the Buffalo Bills and Buffalo Sabres. He is the first Penn Stater from his family, and couldn’t be prouder to represent Penn State University. In his free time, he likes to alpine ski, and play golf. You can follow him on Twitter @abruz11, and can contact him via email at [email protected]

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