The date of the long awaited Mankato rock show finally arrived on March 29th! The first of a series of great rock acts in Mankato’s Verizon Center, (soon to be the Mankato Civic Center), was Breaking Benjamin with Skillet, Underoath, and Fight the Fury. People sure came out to support this one. There weren’t very many empty seats in the arena for this one. I showed up at the venue a little early to hopefully find parking and even then the ramp was almost full as I parked on the very top level. There was a huge influx of people in the downtown area and businesses in the area were all very busy. It seemed that I wasn’t the only one excited for this show.
Fight the Fury went on a little earlier than the 6:30pm start time and had a relatively short set. The band, headed by Skillet singer John Cooper, came out with a rush of energy and certainly got the crowd entering the arena going for the rest of the show.
Underoath was next and was really a change of pace from the first band. The set was darker and a little more difficult to photograph, but their set was solid and there weren’t very many people not singing along or banging their head. The venue had filled up pretty good by this point and the VIP area for Breaking Benjamin was filling up as well. While the guitarists seemed to stay in the shadows off to the sides for the set, the singer occasionally had the spotlight on him as he ran about the stage and spun his mic around a bit. Not a bad set from Underoath as they continued to build on the energy of the crowd.
Skillet took the stage to a now very full arena. I was a little disappointed that they didn’t have the pyro along at this show, but they did have the multitude of CO2 cannons. At one point John Cooper even strapped a couple to his arms and shot smoke out. Their set was longer than the ones I’ve seen in the past and the crowd was loving it. I even went out into the crowd after I took my photos to watch the rest of their set. I was pleasantly pleased to watch them. I rarely get to watch the show and it was a nice change! Skillet kept the intensity up for their entire set and only slowed down a bit for a couple of their slower songs. It was cool to see “Monster” performed live again and seeing Skillet in Mankato was certainly a treat.
Breaking Benjamin had just played at the Target Center, but there were still a full house to see this show as well. From a photographer standpoint, the show was very dark. The band members seemed to stay in the dark and rarely had light on them. I had to try and time shots during the short bursts of light that did happen. It was pretty much the same as all the other times I’ve shot them. From a crowd standpoint though, I would consider this performance to be the best one I’ve seen from Breaking Benjamin. They had a strong setlist even with the same mid-set Star Wars and cover song time. The pyro was cool to see, but wasn’t easy to capture. I actually stayed for their entire set, which I usually don’t do when I’m taking photos. It was cool to see all the people having a great time singing along, nodding their heads, or full out moshing and occasionally crowd surfing. When the band came out for the encore, Ben pulled up people on stage with them in addition to the VIPs that were already there. There were quite a few lucky kids that were picked out to head up on stage and I can imagine that made for a fun night for them. Breaking Benjamin was the perfect choice to head up what looks to be a year of rock in Mankato!
As always, get out and support live performances and I’ll see you out there!