Rise Against | 5.10.11

McIlrath put the focus once again on the bands true message of peace and the absolute gruesomeness of war, putting as much love towards the white flag as the American.




Pop’s yearly outdoor show has in past years become a Warped tour warmup or perhaps a more temperate alternative to the yearly punk-rock Christmas. This year, Rise Against once again brought along punk legends as well as up-and-comers to form an all star concert.

Openers Four Year Strong opened the day with what felt most like a Warped set, with an appearance by the sun that tried it’s best to make it feel like a late summer show. The quartet got the crowd moving including a ,albeit brief, circle pit.

While the crowd was definitely a Rise Against crowd, propped up by KPNT’s overplay of their recent single, “Help Is On the Way”, many in the crowd were there for legendary so-cal group Bad Religion. The group’s set did not disappoint, featuring tracks from new release The Dissent of Man, all the way back to as lead singer Greg Graffin described, “the 20th century”.

Newer track, “The Resist Stance”, which lead singer Graffin said was a “barn burner”, fit right in with racks like 1994’s “Infected” and “American Jesus”. The always Graffin lead group was joined by original member, guitarist and main songwriter, Brett Gurewitz as well as original member, bassist, Jay Bently. 

Closing out with the dynamic duo of “Los Angeles Is Burning” and “Sorrow”, Bad Religion made sure to let the crowd know one last time that the appreciated the crowd coming out to support old men, to which Graffin assumed must be like, “hanging out with your grandpa at the ‘last thanksgiving’ because you just never know”. Graffin also made sure to let his thanks be known to Rise Against who were “giving back” to the group that they opened for years ago, as well as a parting shot at certain “punk” bands with musicals.

Rise Against certainly have developed a feverous fan base despite their support of things that are now slightly counterculture. It was hard to tell (given the intoxication levels of the crowd) how hard the anti-war, pro-vegan message hit, thought the band soldiered on through that delivering a hit filled set which oddly featured more songs from 2008s’ Appeal to Reason, than the recently released Endgame

Going back and forth between more punk friendly songs like 2006s’ set opener “Chamber the Cartridge” and more radio friendly songs such as “Re-education Through Labor”, the crowd stayed more than prepared for Tim McIlrath’s beck and call vocals, which often feature the lead singer bleating with his tongue out (perhaps an homage to goats, given his PETA friendly stance… I kid). Setting his slightly odd singing style aside, the lead singer is a truly great punk lead singer for a new generation. 

With much needed acoustic break, due to drummer Brandon Barnes absolute pummeling beats, featuring the bands breakout hit, “Swing Life Away” and anti-war anthem, “Hero of War” McIlrath put the focus once again on the bands true message of peace and the absolute gruesomeness of war, putting as much love towards the white flag as the American. 

Guitarist Zach Blair is perhaps the most entertaining member of the band, formerly in thrash-metal band Gwar, as well hardcore group Only Crime. Blair brings an energy that the crowd feeds on, and seemingly loves to taunt the crowd to react to his high kicks and spins. The group closed out with a duo of their two biggest hits, “Savior” and 2004s’ “Give It All” with several in the crowd watching from beyond the fence set up around the outdoor stage. At the end, the act of scoring a free show seemed much more punk than thirty-five dollar tickets (after-fee’s), strict no camera policy, and certainly much more environmentally friendly than the thousands of PETA fliers littering the ground.  | Bruce Matlock

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply