Article and Photos by: Linda Carlson
Cincinnati, OH – August 28th was a hot, humid, sticky night in Cincinnati. There was no gentle breeze to stave off the sweat. But despite the sweltering conditions, Riverbend Music Center was packed with more than 15,000 fans who had assembled to experience a hot line-up of rock.
Bad Wolves opened the evening with a worthy set of originals from their debut album, Disobey. The heavy metal supergroup closed with what is arguably one of the most popular rock songs this year, their powerful cover of The Cranberries’ “Zombie,” currently #10 on Billboard’s Hot Rock Songs (September 1) after topping the charts in multiple countries around the globe earlier this year.
Next, Nothing More put on a show that was nothing short of spectacular. From Austin Texas, this band has captured the attention of fans and music industry giants, garnering nominations for three Grammys earlier this year in all three rock categories: Best Rock Album (The Stories We Tell Ourselves), Best Rock Song (“Go To War”) and Best Rock Performance (“Got To War”). Lead singer Jonny Hawkins leaves nothing on the table, belting powerful vocals with a passion that is unrivaled. Guitarist Mark Vollelunga (video interview posting soon to MonkeyGoose!), bassist Daniel Oliver and drummer Ben Anderson round out the band’s line-up. This band is worth the price of admission on its own.
Co-headliner Breaking Benjamin did what Breaking Benjamin does best – deliver songs aimed at pleasing a crowd that loves heavy rock. The stage was darkened with bursts of flames at the rear of the stage. Spotlights lit all members except lead vocalist Benjamin Burnley. Vocals are shared quite liberally with guitarist Keith Wallen, who sings lead on several of the band’s most well-known songs while Burnley plays guitar and offers back-up vocals. It’s a truly shared experience among the band members. Drummer Shaun Foist, performing on an elevated platform, beats the drums with an infectious smile.
Closing the evening was Las Vegas’ Five Finger Death Punch. In contrast with Breaking Benjamin’s darkened staging, 5FDP’s production was all about bright lights and strong spotlighting on every performer. A large skull hung over the set, and drummer Jeremy Spencer wore a befitting skeleton’s costume and face paint. Lead singer Ivan Moody entered the stage with his trademark red painted handprint over his right eye…which soon began to drip. Did I mention it was hot? All band members are seasoned performers who know how to entertain a crowd. They are expressive and engaging. Their current radio release, “Sham Pain,” was mysteriously absent from the set list. Other favorites, like “Burn MF,” were sensational crowd-pleasers delivered with pure 5FDP power.
Their tour continues for just a few more dates. For rockers, this is a show not to miss. Check each band’s website for more tour information.