What happens on a cold December night in Huntington, WV, when Breaking Benjamin, Five Finger Death Punch, In Flames, and From Ashes to New stop by the Big Sandy Superstore Arena? A scorching night of music with some of hottest bands on the planet! Add a sold out crowd of metalheads and you’ve got the makings of an incredible show! Once inside, this throng of people couldn’t care less about the cold outside – only the heat that was coming from the stage!
First up on this epic night in West Virginia was From Ashes to New. I’ve heard them called rap metal, nu metal, or rap rock. Whatever you call them, they’re pretty damn good if you ask me – and a lot of fun to photograph! They are touring in support of ‘The Future,’ their second full-length album released in April of 2018. That album has spawned a couple of top 15 hits on Billboard’s Mainstream Rock chart: “Crazy” and “Broken.” Those two were highlights of the night along with the last song “Through it All,” where I think it was guitarist Lance Dowdle riding in a hamster ball out on the crowd. From Ashes to New had this crowd fired up and ready for more!
In Flames was next up. In Flames was the one band on this bill that I hadn’t seen live. Well, I can mark that off my list – and it was worth the wait! In Flames has been around a long time – since 1990, if you’re counting. That’s a lot of years – probably longer than some of you reading this have been alive. But just because they are the “old men” on this tour didn’t mean they had rocking chairs and whatnot – far from it! They came out and throat punched the massive sold-out crowd in West Virginia, starting the set off with “Colony” from 1999’s release of the same title, and “Everything’s Gone” from 2014’s ‘Siren Charms.’ “Where the Dead Ships Dwell,” “Alias,” and “Paralyzed” rounded out the middle of this kickass set with “Take This Life” and “The End” bringing the set to a close. In Flames has a new album ‘I, The Mask’ coming out in March of this year and they show no signs of slowing down!
Touring in support of their fifth straight number one album ‘And Justice for None’ on Billboard’s Hard Rock Album chart and fourth on the Top Rock Albums chart, Five Finger Death Punch was about to show this sold-out West Virginia crowd how to ROCK! Kicking the set off with “Under and Over It” and “Trouble,” FFDP didn’t let up even a little bit for the next five songs. Then the lights went out, oh man, and what a light show they put on. I had a great seat but ended up in the back of the arena so I could see those lights – Sorry, got sidetracked. The lights went out and Jason Hook made his way to the stage with an acoustic guitar, sat down on a stool, and started a beautiful rendition of “Wrong Side of Heaven.” After a minute or so of just guitar, Ivan Moody began to sing as he walked out to the stage. I was in my seat as this happened and the crowd singing behind and all around me was incredible! What happened next is something I won’t soon forget. Now, I’ve been to a lot of shows in the last few years, and I’ve seen artists bring fans up to sing with them, but nothing like what happened in Huntington on this night in December. Moody started by calling up a couple of children – they just kept coming. I’m guessing 12 to 15 kids where onstage with him to help sing “Remember Everything.” As they sang, Ivan gave the kids his necklaces, rings, bracelets, and even some drumsticks when he ran out of stuff to give away. It really was a cool thing to witness and a night those kids will never forget! “Burn MF” got the crowd fired up again and “Gone Away” (The Offspring cover) had the crowd singing back at the stage. FFDP closed out the night with the song that started it all for them, “The Bleeding.”
It was Breaking Benjamin’s job to close out this night of killer music – and they didn’t disappoint – kicking their set off with “Red Cold River” from 2018’s release and sixth studio album ‘Ember,’ then into “I Will Not Bow” from 2009’s platinum-selling album, ‘Dear Agony.’ Benjamin Burnley and the rest of Breaking Benjamin picked right up where FFDP left off and had this sold-out crowd begging for more! With four of their six studio albums reaching number one on Billboard’s Hard Rock Album chart, they have plenty of material to keep the metalheads in Huntington entertained – which included a killer montage of covers: “The Imperial March / Cowboys From Hell / Smells Like Teen Spirit / Bohemian Rhapsody / Enter Sandman” that not only kept the metalheads entertained, but almost put them into a frenzy! They went back to the BB songs for the rest of the set including “Angels Fall,” “Believe,” “Failure,” and closing out the night with the number one song from ‘Ember,’ “Torn in Two,” and their best known hit “ The Diary of Jane.”
With that, an end to what was a stupendous night of hard rock/metal along the river in West Virginia. If you weren’t one of the lucky ones in this sold-out crowd, you really missed a great show from all four bands. Also, this was my first trip to the Big Sandy Super Store Arena and it will not be my last! Thanks to Veronica and all the staff for making me feel welcome! Go See The Show!!