Review and photos by Tara Lakatos
A mega rock tour staring Alice in Chains, Breaking Benjamin, Bush and new comers The L.I.F.E Project blazed into the Freedom Mortgage Pavilion in Camden, NJ on August 11, 2022. This was the second stop out of 36 on this tour run and the second show back for Alice in Chains after 3 years of not touring. This show was nonstop, heart pounding rock and roll for over 4 hours. In my opinion they were all headliners.
The night started off with The L.I.F.E Project which was started by Stone Sour guitarist Josh Rand after the band went into indefinite hiatus. Vocalist Casandra Carson is a force and voice to be reckoned with. The L.I.F.E Project songs are heavy, with chunky riffs. Casandra’s voice is deep and gritty. She is backed up vocally by keyboardist Diana Weishaar who was also exceptional. The band is rounded out with bassist Jaron Gulino and drummer Danny Piselli. They played all of the songs off of their debut EP The L.I.F.E Project and “Caught in a Mosh” off of their new EP Big F.O.U.R.. I highly recommend checking them out.
The first of the headliners of the night was Bush. They put on the most energized, fan interactive set of the night. They started off the night with “Kingdom” , Gavin Rossdale immediately commanded the stage. His energy emoted through the crowd. He belted out his vocals and jumped, danced his was across the stage. He is one of the most infectious lights on stage. The second song performed is probably my all time favorite Bush song, “Machinehead”. For this song Gavin grabbed his guitar and played the rhythm parts feverishly. Chris Traynor shredded the lead guitar riffs while Corey Britz and Nik Hughes held down the rhythm section. I sang along badly as I took photos, thankfully no one could hear me. ‘Quicksand’ rounded out the opening 3. Towards the end of the song Gavin jumped down into the photo pit, jumped onto the rail and sang while he held onto freaking out fans in the first couple of rows. It was a crazy moment, but signature Rossdale. They played 10 songs over an hour long set. Prior to the start of “Gycerine” Gavin brought 3 fans onstage that were seeing Bush for the 100th time. As someone who has seen a band more than 100 times I know how special this moment was for them. Bush ended their set with “Comedown”. It was quite fitting but I am not sure how anyone in the audience came down from the adrenaline high of their set.
The second headliner of the night was Breaking Benjamin. Their first song was “Blow Me Away” with Benjamin Burnley on vocals. To me Breaking Benjamin isn’t a flashy live band, they are a consistent band. They have the complete opposite stage presence of Bush who preceded them. Their stage is dark and moody with fireball flashes every so often. The second song of their set was “Sooner or Later” with guitarist Keith Wallen on vocals. The audience started to engage with this performance and it became a group sing along. The 3rd song of the set was “Firefly” with bassist Aaron Bruch on vocals. The rest of the set was sang by Benjamin pulling out all of their hits, including “So Cold”, “Polyamorous”, “Angels Fall”, “Failure”, “I Will Not Bow and closing with the “Diary of Jane”. Halfway through the set they slowed it down for an acoustic cover of Queen’s “Who Wants to Live Forever”. While they were setting up for the song Benjamin brought his son out to rev up the crowd. He was super cute and will be a star someday. One thing that I will note is that during their set I was sitting with a colleague and I said I literally know the word to every song. That says something about the power of their lyrics. I have never sat down and listened to a Breaking Benjamin album straight through but that didn’t stop me from knowing all of their material. Kudos to their song writing. Breaking Benjamin played 16 songs over an hour and 25 minute set. They put on a very solid performance that the audience really enjoyed.
The night ended with the blockbuster headliner Alice in Chains. I fell in love with Alice in Chains because of their song “Would?”. It appeared on the soundtrack for the movie Singles, this led me to their album “Dirt” and the rest was history. AIC opened their set with “Again” from their 1995 self titled album. While William Duvall is not the original vocalist, his voice blended with Jerry Cantrell’s during their opening harmonies is almost haunting. This song set the tone and energy of their set for the rest of the night. The second song of their set was “Check My Brain” . William grabbed his guitar to play rhythm on this one while he commanded the mic. The 3rd song they performed was “Grind”. Bassist Mike Inez, while spending most of his time in the shadows pumped out the heavy groove to this song. Half way through their set they performed “Man in the Box”, the song that put them on the 1990’s grunge map. Jerry got out one note of his signature wah riff and the crowd lost it. This has got to be one of the most recognizable guitar riffs of all times. William and Jerry’s vocals perfectly matched the guitar tone and off they went. As soon as the chorus hit everyones metal horns flew to the sky as the screamed out, it was a zen moment. Just before they closed out the night they finally performed “Would?”. The bass kicked in, the drums started to thump and the crowd started to woo. The entire crowd belted this song out at the top of their lungs, I’m sure they could be heard in center city Philadelphia. Alice in Chains ended the night with another one of their classics, “Rooster”. William asked the crowd if they felt like singing during the intro and they obliged. Even the security guard that was at the center of the stage was singing along. This was a great topper to an incredible evening of music that spanned over 30 years but was as good as ever. Young bands need to take some notes from all of these veterans.
This tour is just getting started and will make its way across the country and back east over the next month and a half. If you are on the fence do not hesitate to get out and see this tour, it’s not one to be missed.