Alice In Chains and Breaking Benjamin Rocked St Louis

Alice In Chains performing at Hollywood Casino Amphitheatre in Saint Louis. Photo by Sean Derrick/Thyrd Eye Photography.

 

–by Sean Derrick

A co-headlining tour with Alice in Chains and Breaking Benjamin, with Bush in tow, made a stop at the Hollywood Casino Amphitheatre Wednesday night and blew the roof off The Shed.

After what sounded like a spirited set from Plush (I, unfortunately got there too late due to a prior appointment) Bush had a vibrant set that focused entirely on 1995’s Sixteen Stone, 2020’s The Kingdom, and the upcoming The Art of Survival albums. The upcoming album is due to drop October 7.

Bush performing at Hollywood Casino Amphitheatre in Saint Louis. Photo by Sean Derrick/Thyrd Eye Photography.

Lead singer Gavin Rossdale was as energetic as always, and his vocals in top form as his dramatic stage presence electrified the crowd. He interacted with the audience a great deal, and even went out to the lawn to sing “Flowers on a Grave”. Good thing he did that when he did, because minutes later a heavy but brief rain moved across the amphitheater. Interestingly enough the rains began right when Rossdale (who was at this point onstage by himself) began to play the 1995 hit “Glycerine”, and ended right when the song ended, almost as if the rock gods were crying.

Bush performing at Hollywood Casino Amphitheatre in Saint Louis. Photo by Sean Derrick/Thyrd Eye Photography.

The set ended with Alice in Chains’ guitarist Jerry Cantrell performing with Bush on “Comedown”. It was electrifying to say the least.

Bush performing at Hollywood Casino Amphitheatre in Saint Louis. Photo by Sean Derrick/Thyrd Eye Photography.

Breaking Benjamin kicked off their set with pyro on the first song, “Blow Me Away” (they certainly tried). Lead vocalist Benjamin Burnley was in his usual darkly/red lit part of the stage (we get it, you are brooding and want to set the mood, but that gets kind of old after a while. That and the giant air conditioning vents put up just for your set blocked most of the good shots from the pit.) The rest of the band (guitarists Jasen Rauch and Keith Wallen, bassist Aaron Bruch, and drummer Shaun Foist) sounded crisp and on point the entire set.

Breaking Benjamin performing at Hollywood Casino Amphitheatre in Saint Louis. Photo by Sean Derrick/Thyrd Eye Photography.

Burnley, Wallen, and Bruch tagged teamed on lead vocals several times and it was and a nice change from the typical “lead singer” only style many bands have.

Breaking Benjamin performing at Hollywood Casino Amphitheatre in Saint Louis. Photo by Sean Derrick/Thyrd Eye Photography.

The Saint Louis crowd loves Breaking Benjamin and it showed again Wednesday as the crowd sang along to almost every song, especially on “I Will Not Bow” and “Angels Fall”.

Breaking Benjamin performing at Hollywood Casino Amphitheatre in Saint Louis. Photo by Sean Derrick/Thyrd Eye Photography.

They haven’t had new material since 2018’s Ember, but fans would sure love a new Breaking Benjamin album.

Breaking Benjamin performing at Hollywood Casino Amphitheatre in Saint Louis. Photo by Sean Derrick/Thyrd Eye Photography.

By contrast, Alice In Chains’ stage setup was bright and camera friendly, no large monitors blocking views (and certainly no air conditioners). In place of pyro the band had five light panels protruding at a 45-degree angle over the stage.

Alice In Chains performing at Hollywood Casino Amphitheatre in Saint Louis. Photo by Sean Derrick/Thyrd Eye Photography.

Alice In Chains, who are touring for the first time in three years, is celebrating the 30th anniversary of their debut album Dirt. They kicked off with, what I think is the perfect lead song from their repertoire; the low heavy “Again”, before hitting “Check My Brain”.

Alice In Chains performing at Hollywood Casino Amphitheatre in Saint Louis. Photo by Sean Derrick/Thyrd Eye Photography.

The band (Vocalist/guitarist William DuVall. Guitarist/vocalist Jerry Cantrell, bassist Mike Inez, and drummer Sean Kinney) performed nearly half of the Dirt album, while touching on each of their other 5 albums and the Jar of Flies EP.

Alice In Chains performing at Hollywood Casino Amphitheatre in Saint Louis. Photo by Sean Derrick/Thyrd Eye Photography.

It’s almost hard to believe that the band has released the same number of albums with DuVall as lead vocalist (three) as they did with original vocalist Layne Staley (Though the 20009 album Black Gives Way to Blue featured Cantrell handling most of the lead vocals). many times when a group changes key members the music can sound stale or dated as the group either tries to hang on to their glorious past or try super hard to remain relevant. In AIC’s case the new music has sounded fresh and personal, ensuring they remain viable.

Alice In Chains performing at Hollywood Casino Amphitheatre in Saint Louis. Photo by Sean Derrick/Thyrd Eye Photography.

But that is not to say that the band misses Staley (who died in 2002) or original bassist Mike Starr (who died in 2011). In the most touching moment of the show Cantrell dedicated their performance of “Nutshell” to Staley and Starr. And, 20 years after his passing, his memory still elicited tears from many in the large crowd.

Alice In Chains performing at Hollywood Casino Amphitheatre in Saint Louis. Photo by Sean Derrick/Thyrd Eye Photography.

AIC is planning to head into the studio later this year to record a new album, their 4th without Staley.¬† It’ll be hard to wait for that one.

Alice In Chains performing at Hollywood Casino Amphitheatre in Saint Louis. Photo by Sean Derrick/Thyrd Eye Photography.

The tour runs until October 8. Don’t miss it if you have the chance.

Be sure to check out the gallery of images from the evening after the setlists below.

 

Alice in Chains Setlist:

Again

Check My Brain

Grind

Them Bones

Dam That River

Hollow

Your Decision

Angry Chair

Man in the Box

Nutshell

The One You Know

No Excuses

Down in a Hole

Would?

Rooster

 

Breaking Benjamin Setlist:

Blow Me Away

Sooner or Later

Firefly

Follow

So Cold

Angels Fall

Breath

Failure

Who Wants to Live Forever (Queen cover)

Polyamorous

Give Me A Sign

Red Cold River

Until the End

Torn in Two

I Will Not Bow

The Diary of Jane

 

Bush Setlist:

The Kingdom

Machinehead

Quicksand

Bullet Holes

Everything Zen

Blood River

Flowers on a Grave

More Than Machines

Glycerine (Rossdale solo)

Comedown (with Jerry Cantrell)

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