Words by: Raven Benwait
Photography by: Anna Sklavos
The City of Toronto was greeted with some fantastic musical talent on Monday, August 8. Disturbed, Breaking Benjamin, Alter Bridge and Saint Asonia hit the Molson Canadian Amphitheatre stage for a heavy musical night to remember.
Upon arriving to the venue, it was immediately packed and filled with fans representing their favourite bands. The show began early at 6:50 p.m. with Saint Asonia, a supergroup consisting of Mike Mishok (ex-Staind guitarist), Corey Lowery (ex-Stuck Mojo bassist), drummer Rich Beddoe (ex-Finger Eleven drummer) and topped off with Adam Gontier (ex-Three Days Grace vocalist & guitarist). Once they hit the stage, they immediately blasted the crowd with energy, especially closer to the front of the stage. Saint Asonia’s short set list began with “Fairy Tale” followed by “King of Nothing” and “Dying Slowly.” Not many people knew the songs because Saint Asonia is a pretty new band, but the ones that did enjoyed them.
The band surprised the crowd at one point when they began playing “Just Like You,” followed by a classic love song “I Hate Everything About You,” both written by Adam Gontier for Three Days Grace. Several folks in the venue knew the words to these two classic Post-Grunge songs, as many sang along. Saint Asonia then closed with “Let Me Live My Life,” a song about doing what you want in your life – not doing things for anyone but you. Saint Asonia played a very energetic set which was a great warm-up for the upcoming bands. They definitely gained some fans!
Next up was Alter Bridge, a Hard Rock band that has been around for a while. Alter Bridge opened with “Come to Life,” with the breathtaking vocals of Myles Kennedy. He sings with so much passion, almost giving the audience goose bumps. Their short 7-song set list was followed with “Farther than the Sun,” “Ties that Bind” and “Isolation,” which are all great songs. Many were singing along to Kennedy’s strong vocals.
The last time I saw Myles Kennedy was with Slash and I noticed he was definitely more energetic and interactive with the crowd. Performing with Alter Bridge, he was more focused on his vocals rather than interacting with the crowd. I don’t find that an issue because Alter Bridge was very musically connected and all their notes were precisely played, making them mesh beautifully as a band. The talented guitarist Mark Tremonti, bassist Brian Marshall and drummer Scott Phillips did a fantastic job instrumentally.
Next on the bill was Breaking Benjamin with a much larger fan-base than the first two bands. Frontman Benjamin Burnley led his band with Jasen Rauch on lead guitar, Keith Wallen on rhythm guitar, Aaron Bruch rocking the bass and Shaun Foist covering drums. It was great to see Breaking Benjamin back on stage again after the vocalist dealt with some serious phobias including plane rides. The fans were definitely very accepting when they hit the stage, as everyone sang along to “So Cold.” During the night, Breaking Benjamin introduced a variety of music and interesting combinations such as a cover of Nirvana’s famous “Smells Like Teen Spirit” and Pantera’s “Walk.” A well-known song by many gamers is “Blow me Away” featured in Halo. That was probably the heaviest song of their entire set.
Another great song was “Believe” featuring Aaron Bruch on vocals. Something I enjoy about this band is their vocal variety – almost every member of this band can sing. Everyone’s vocals were spot on, hitting the perfect keys and their live performance was just so well-crafted. You could tell they’ve been playing together for a while. I did see them back in September 2015 and I’ve got to say I enjoyed that show much more. I feel like it was more of an intimate experience because there were more fans and the band had much more interaction with the crowd. Ofcourse with the hundreds of people filling the huge venue, it is obviously difficult to interact with everyone. Adam Gontier joined them for “I Will Not Bow,” and they closed with “Diary of Jane,” again a very well known song. The audience surrounding me was singing along with passion and happiness. It was fantastic to see Breaking Benjamin once again and they did a great job opening for Disturbed.
After so much patience and anxious fans, the act we were waiting for all night finally hit the Molson Canadian Amphitheatre stage. Disturbed surprised the crowd with a band as there were fire flames shooting from the stage; being close to the front, I could feel the heat on my face which added to the excitement! They opened with “Ten Thousand Fists,” followed by “The Game.” Disturbed had a nice mix of modern metal music with a twist of some metal-inspired melodies such as Metallica and Slayer. Guitarist Dan Donegan, bassist John Moyer and drummer Mike Wengren were all filled with fantastic energy and were in instrumentally in sync the entire time. They played “Inside the Fire,” “Stricken” and of course a classic, “Indestructible.” Listening to David Draiman, I’ve got to say, he’s still got it. He has one of the most unique vocals I’ve personally heard – he can scream, growl, and sing at a great range of tempos and keys. I myself was attempting to sing at the same speed as Draiman during “Liberate,” and oh man, I’ve got to say I was impressed by his speed after all these years of performing.
The flames of fire bursting around the stage made the crowd go even crazier and kept them more entertained. I was a fan of the stage set ups and the constant changes of backdrops according to the album type. The fan-base consisted of all ages from elders to parents, young adults, teenagers and even small children. The crowd was pretty calm; there was little to no mosh-pits and crowd-surfing, which was a disappointment because I am big on crowd energy, but at least many sang and head-banged along!
Disturbed invited members of Saint Asonia and Breaking Benjamin to assist them with the song “Who Taught You How to Hate Them” which was interesting with an even greater variety of instruments. A song I did not expect them to play was the beautiful “The Sound of Silence.” At this moment they brought out great variety of instruments such as a cello and piano which added an amazing effect to the song. The instruments were so precise and meshed fantastically with one another, topped off with Draiman’s unique vocals. Each and every note of this song was sung with perfection and passion. I felt warm-hearted as I saw the surrounding fans singing their hearts out.
One of my favourite songs of the night was “The Light,” as the band interacted greatly with the crowd. Draiman asked everyone to raise their lighters and cell phones every time he would mention “The Light,” and it was amazing to see the entire venue filled with lights as I looked back from the front of the venue – what a view! The song to end off the night, the one song we were all waiting for was “Down with the Sickness.” Finally, a mosh-pit arose and fans began to go nuts! We all growled with Draiman and at the end of the show, they asked for a fan photo and ofcourse we all posted with our devil horns in the air. Draiman said Toronto was “infected” by their music and I’ve got to say, were indeed! After the concert, I took the TTC a few stops around and people were singing “Down with the Sickness” everywhere – what a feeling! Overall, the show was incredible and if you’re a rocker that hasn’t seen Disturbed, I do recommend you see them live.