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Written by  Brandon McCarthy

This could be one of the last few times I will get to write about performances at the FivePoint Amphitheatre in Irvine. It has been announced and planned that a new permanent outdoor venue will take its place. It is bittersweet news for me because while I am looking forward to seeing this get built, FivePoint will be done with, and it has been a great replacement for the original Irvine Amphitheatre. Anyway, what better way to start my summer concert series in Irvine than by seeing Disturbed stupify the Irvine metalheads. Celebrating the release of their 8th release Divisive, Disturbed wanted us to take back our lives with a headbanging tour along Ukraine metal warriors Jinjer and hard rock legends Breaking Benjamin. Rabit and I head over there along with Rockaholic, the Metal Samurai, and his lady Abbey, aka Lady Sinister, and did we get down with the sickness.

Jinjer was the first to go on and get the crowd pumped up. This metalcore outfit has been through a lot the past year and a half with their country’s ongoing war with Russia, but just like Ukraine, they showed resolve and strength on the stage. Frontwoman Tetiana Shmailyuk (aka Tati) exhumed her brutal screams to the fans, and they roared with approval. What I always found amazing about Tati is that not only can she throw down the hammer with her screams, but she can also move people’s souls with her heavenly singing. As always, Roman Ibramkhalilov (guitar), Eugene Abdukhanov (bass), and Vladi Ulasevich (drums) brought metalcore enthusiasm and excitement that reminded us why Jinjer is amazing. From “Perennial” to “Call Me a Symbol,” “Vortex,” “I Speak Astronomy,” “Copycat,” and “As I Boil Ice,” we saw the fighting spirit of Ukrainian metal. Jinjer conquered their performance and Irvine was all fired up. (Fight on Ukraine!)

Up next was Pennsylvania’s Breaking Benjamin. Seeing them always brings me back to my high school days when Saturate dropped 25 years ago and brought much need excitement in the world of alternative hard rock. Frontman/rhythm guitarist and founder Benjamin Burley is still one of the best alternative singers in the game, jumping between death growling and tenor singing. He knows how to draw the audience into his angst and feel his anger & sorrow. Since the release of 2015’s Dark Before Dawn, Breaking Benjamin has been hotter with their current lineup of nearly 10 years. The guitar duo attack of Jasen Rauch (lead) and Keith Wallen (rhythm) is always a sight to behold, while Aaron Bruch (bass) and Shaun Frost (drums) were laser focused on alternative perfection. A majority of their setlist came from Phobia and We Are Not Alone, tunes old school Breaking Benjamin fans love to take in. Songs like “Breath” “Dance With the Devil,” “The Diary of Jane,” “Until the End,” “Follow,” “Simple Design,” “So Cold,” and “Sooner or Later” ignited the high schooler inside all of us. Other tunes that we enjoyed hearing included “Failure,” “I Will Not Bow,” “Red Cold River,” “Polyamorous, and “Blow Me Away.” This was a trip down memory lane, and Breaking Benjamin did not disappoint.

After a 30 intermission and arousing introduction from the Metal Ambassador himself Jose Magnin, the mighty Disturbed took to the stage. Starting things off with their hit lead single off Divisive, “Hey You,” and did that song get everyone into the right mood. Frontman David Draiman has one of the greatest voices in music today, not just metal. That night, it showed no signs of aging. He still can hit those operatic baritone notes like nobody’s business. As Draiman was slaying the lyrics, guitarist Dan Donegan shredded up a storm with his signature hammer-on and “flick off” technique. Drummer Mike Wengren wailed and hammered with all his might, showing us why he is considered one of the best modern metal drummers around, and bassist John Moyer brought the roaring boom that lifts Disturbed up to the Heavens. What was awesome to see was all the players showing off their skills with their own solo spots, and did they dazzle us. While many of their songs from that evening came from The Sickness, a good portion also came from Divisive. The Disturbed loyalists really enjoyed the songs like “Stupify,” “Ten Thousand Fists,” “Prayer,” “Are You Ready,” Genesis’ “Land of Confusion,” “Droppin’ Plates,” “The Game,” “Indestructible,” “The Light,” and “Stricken.” Their best came from their calm, booming ballads like “A Reason to Fight” and Simon & Garfunkel’s “The Sound of Silence,” which were both dedicated to the depressed and those we lost (including Chris Cornell & Chester Bennington). As someone who at times battles depression, those songs meant something to me. So Disturbed, thank you for that. After a brief break, they returned for a 3-song encore that included “Unstoppable,” “Down With the Sickness,” and “Inside the Fire.” For those tunes, I let my metal side go into overdrive.

That was a fun night to be at FivePoint. Disturbed gave us an electrified performance that involved a lot of pyro technics and fire pits. Talk about bringing in a ring of fire. Breaking Benjamin brought exciting rock and Jinjer lit up the feelings in all of us to keep on fighting for the right reasons. I do not know how long it will be until the new venue is built, but I will continue to enjoy FivePoint’s performances for as long as it is around. To Disturbed, Breaking Benjamin, and Jinjer, I salute you. Horns up!!!

Photos by:  Matt 'Rabit' Martinez

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