jason walton

Breaking Benjamin || House of Blues Anaheim

After driving over an hour to the House of Blues Anaheim, I couldn't have been more excited to shoot Breaking Benjamin. While the music was well played the on stage performances were a little lacking. Each member stood at their designated microphone playing their respected instrument for most of the show. As a photographer, up close performances can really help my work shine.

The music was fantastic though and the crowd was really into the show. The venue was packed to its absolute maximum making for a very intimate experience, both with the band and unfortunately some of the people around you.

One of the many highlights of the show was when Ben made a short Star Wars speech followed by the band playing the Imperial March. When bass player was supposed to start the next song, there was only silence. Then Darth Vader and a Stormtrooper came into stage and surprised Ben with a Death Star birthday cakes and an awesome Kylo Ren guitar because his birthday was the next day. Well done Disney. 

The song “Give Me A Sign" was really sick because Ben instructed the crowd to whip out their phone flashlights and light up the room. The House of Blues turned off all of the house lights making the flashlights the only source of illumination.

From time to time, there would be massive pillars of smoke bellowing from the stage which really added to the intensity of the show. After attempting to wander around taking pictures and failing due to how packed the venue was, I decided to find a seat in the balcony. While it was a good place to watch the rest of the show, the lighting designer kept shining retina melting beams of light directly into my eyes.

Ben also had some of his other bandmates sing main vocals on some songs which I thought was a very interesting choice. It definitely changed the sound of some of the songs and made them more unique to the live show. During the song “Breath,” Dustin, the vocalist from Starset, came on stage and joined Ben with the vocals. Usually opening bands do this in order to bring extra hype to their show but I haven’t seen a headliner bring the vocalist from the opening band on stage for a very long time. It showed how close Breaking Benjamin and Starset truly are.

It was great to finally check Breaking Benjamin off of my bucket list as I have never seen or photographed them live before.

Setlist:

So Cold, Follow, Sooner or Later, Angels Fall, Firefly, Unknown Soldier, Simple Design, Ashes of Eden, Blow Me Away, Imperial March / Schism / Smells Like Teen Spirit / Walk, (Birthday celebration for Ben), Polyamorous, Give Me a Sign, Believe, Breath (With Dustin from Starset), Failure, Fade Away, Until the End, I Will Not Bow, The Diary of Jane

Bullet For My Valentine & Asking Alexandria || The Wiltern

With 2.3 million views on their new music video "The Black” in the first week, Asking Alexandria continues to maintain their popularity despite departing with their vocalist Danny Worship last year.

Denis Stoff of Asking Alexandria

New vocalist Denis Stoff created an electrifying performance at The Wiltern, leaving the whole crowd exhausted before headliner Bullet For My Valentine. Asking Alexandria had the entire crowd on their feet several times during their performance.  Hands raised and devil horns up, it was quite clear that the crowd loved the show. 

Asking Alexandria

As Bullet For My Valentine took to the stage, the whole crowd screamed “Bullet, Bullet, Bullet” in unison. The stage was packed with smoke and large spinning lights decorated the background, filling the venue with copious amounts of light. Every song was played perfectly and everyone’s vocals sounded flawless.

Matt Tuck of Bullet For My Valentine

After negative reviews of their previous album Temper Temper, Bullet For My Valentine truly stepped up their game and created the album Venom, which brought their sound back to their older albums Fever and Scream Aim Fire. Bullet’s drummer Moose has taken some time away from the band (who has been touring and recording non-stop for 11 years) to be with his wife who is pregnant with their first child. Jason Bowld is currently stepping in on the drums for the remainder of this touring cycle.

Jason Bowld during the drum solo

Matt explained all of this to the crowd, then introduced Jason who went into a drum solo of epic proportions. It was a sold out show at The Wiltern in Los Angeles, and this stop of the British Invasion Tour seemed to be a highlight for the bands. Bullet For My Valentine and Asking Alexandria are also touring with While She Sleeps for the remainder of the tour. 

Bullet For My Valentine Setlist:

No Way Out, Skin, Your Betrayal, 4 Words (To Choke Upon), You Want A Battle? (Here’s A War), The Last Fight, Drum Solo, Raising Hell, Scream Aim Fire, Venom, The Poison, Alone, Worthless, Hand Of Blood, Encore: Tears Don’t Fall, Waking The Demon

Asking Alexandria Setlist:

I Won’t Give In, Run Free, The Death Of Me, Breathless, To The Stage, The Black, Not The American Average, A Prophecy, The Final Episode (Let’s Change The Channel)

Our Last Night || The Viper Room

As a person who shoots a lot of bands, I've been able to tell when artists are putting on a performance. The first band to play, ZiBBZ, had one of the most genuine performances I've seen yet. Or maybe they're just the best at faking it! I'll never know. 

Stee of ZiBBZ

Every moment was filled with joy and excitement as they shared their music with the crowded room. The simplistic drummer (Stee) and vocalist (Coco) combo echoes other bands such as Twenty One Pilots and The White Stripes, but their music is entirely unique. One song was played entirely off of an iPhone synthesizer by drummer Stee which felt organic and original. The lighting setup was amazing for an opening band due to the fluorescent triangle positioned behind the drums. Almost minimalistic and tribal, ZiBBZ put on a fantastic performance and I definitely would like to see and shoot them again.

Finally the moment everyone was waiting for. Our Last Night took to the stage with a shorter set than usual, but the intensity and fun was all the same. A team of camera operators decked out with Canon C300's, 70-200's, and 24-70's (for all you camera nerds out there), filmed the entire performance which will be released at a later date. OLN played songs mostly off of their new album Younger Dreams which dropped in June of 2015. They even played an acoustic version of their Justin Bieber cover "Sorry". Their 7 song setlist consisted of Road To The Throne, Prisoners, Home, Younger Dreams, White Tiger, Sorry (acoustic), and Sunrise. All in all, it was a great show and what made it even better was that it was FREE! OLN killed it at the legendary venue, The Viper Room and I'm stoked to see what they do next!