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Rise Against EU Tour 17

Rise Against / Sleeping With Sirens / PEARS

Apollo, Manchester, UK

2nd November 2016
By

Rating: 4/5

 
 

 

 

Rise Against Venue Nov 17Chicago’s Rise Against hit Manchester tonight on the second date of their current UK tour in support of their new album, Wolves, alongside the melodic hardcore legends is a diverse duo of support acts in the shape of Sleeping With Sirens and hardcore upstarts PEARS. The queue for Rise Against’s return to Manchester snakes round both sides of Manchester’s historic Apollo venue and I start to get worried that we’re not going to catch the opening set by PEARS, and as that’s one of the main reasons I’m here tonight this is a worrying state of affairs. 

Pears1(Best)We thankfully make it into the Apollo in the nick of time for PEARS, they immediately kick into a furious set of hardcore and you can see why they have developed a well deserved reputation for an impressive live show. PEARS deliver an intense  barrage that befits their growing status, and as far as I’m concerned they are one of the best live hardcore acts out there at the moment. When I last caught PEARS, at this years Rebellion Festival, they were impressive, but tonight they sound sharper and more focused and there’s a reason they captured the attention of so many since their formation. PEARS have opened tonight’s show with a short sharp set that’s sets the bar so high that I almost feel sorry for the band that has to follow them, almost.
 
Pears2PEARS‘ frontman, Zach Quinn, is inevitably bare chested by the end of the set and he cuts a perpetually manic and uninhibited figure during a set that spans their short but prolific career, including material from their freshly released split album with Direct Hit. It’s an intense and all too short twenty five minute set from the New Orleans quartet, aside from the brief easy listening intermissions that punctuate their set this has been an opening salvo that was delivered at full tilt throughout. Despite the early start to their set they play to steadily filling and appreciative crowd at the Manchester Apollo, and you get the impression that PEARS have made more than a few friends tonight.
 
Sleeping with Sirens (1)Next up is Sleeping With Sirens who are touring in support of their new album, Gossip, and were something of an unknown quantity to me prior to tonight. They play a set of slick post hardcore influenced alt rock that is delivered in an accomplished and crowd pleasing style, but for me their inclusion on this tour seems to be at odds with the two other bands on the bill and for me they came across as a slightly disappointing filling in an otherwise amazing sandwich, however the enthusiastic reaction from a sizable section of the crowd, and the borderline hysteria I encountered whilst queuing to get into the venue, suggests that I am in the minority on this one.
 
RA1(Colour)There’s a lengthy changeover before Rise Against take the stage, which gives the opportunity for a varied selection of punk tunes old and new, including everything from The Clash to Me First And The Gimme Gimme’s, to warm the crowd up for tonight’s headliners. The house lights eventually drop and the four minute warning sounds revealing two huge video screens displaying cartoon apocalyptic imagery that sets the tone for tonight’s show. The atmosphere builds until the screen then focuses in on it’s last remaining target, Manchester UK, and we’re off into a set that spans Rise Against‘s almost two decade long career.
 
RA3(HiCont)Rise Against have come a long way since their days with Fat Wreck Chords, major record deals have taken them into bigger concert halls and bought elaborate stage sets and immense lighting rigs, but the core of the band and their ideals remain the same, and before the first number is out they have the crowd in the palm of the hands. New material from their latest full length, Wolves, is dropped into the set and blends in perfectly. Dancing For Rain is appropriately dedicated to Manchester and the set is theatrically punctuated by short dark animated films that depict a dystopian future, the second of these is followed by a triumphant Collapse (Post-Amerika) that’s accompanied by images of resistance and police brutality.
 
RA4It’s been too long since Rise Against hit the UK and the crowds affection for them hasn’t dimmed in the years have that passed. An acoustic Swing Life Away gets a note perfect chorus from the Manchester crowd, a further heartfelt acoustic number, People Live Here, is dedicated to those who have the courage to fight for peace in the face of aggression. Hero Of War see’s the reappearance of the full band for the finale of the song, and for the remainder of the set Rise Against return to full flow. Tonight’s set has covered the majority of Rise Against’s back catalogue and they close with Satellite from their 2011 album, Endgame.
 
RA5Prior to their return we get the final instalment of the dystopian animations, that true to the bands self depicts the downtrodden rising up as wolves against those who have created a living hell, and they retake the stage to deliver a suitably defiant encore to close what has been an impressive return to our shores. Tonight’s show was marked by stunning sets that bookended either end of the evening, Pears and Rise Against were both flawless tonight, with the latter’s also having a dramatic visual appeal. But whilst both bands have very different styles they were both equally impressive and share the same vision, and that’s pretty much punk rock in a nutshell, it isn’t our differences that matter, it’s the common bonds that bind us together.
 
Rise Against Pears Nov 17Rise Against‘s website is here and Wolves can be ordered here
 
Sleeping With Sirens website can be found here
 
PEARS website is here
 
Human Movement can be ordered via Fat Wreck Chords here
 
Live photography by Steven Alexis
 
You can click on any of Steven’s photos to view a slide show of the images
 
 

PEARS Announce November UK Tour With Rise Against

Direct HitIn their short history PEARS have released two full-lengths, both on Fat Wreck Chords, and have played far and wide, including Australia and Chicago Riot Fest, now PEARS have announced they are opening for Rise Against on their UK tour this November. The band will also be releasing a split album, Human Movement, on November 3rd with Direct Hit via Fat Wreck Chords.

You can pre-order Human Movement via Fat Wreck Chords here

You can view PEARS UK tour dates with Rise Against, and the video for Green Star, below Read More…

Rise Against – House On Fire

Rise-AgainstChicago punks Rise Against have premiered a new song from their next album.  The track is titled “House On Fire” from the album, The Violence, which is set to drop on June 9, 2017 via Virgin Records.  The band last released The Black Market in 2014 via DGC/Interscope Records.

Listen to the song here.

Tours: Pierce The Veil / White Lung / Rise Against

Fearless RecordsPierce The Veil has announced that they will be touring in support of Rise Against with White Lung.  The video features the song “Drive In” and comes from their latest full length, Misadventures, out now via Fearless Records.

Tour dates are below.

Read More…

Rise Against Announce New LP; Stream First Track

Rise-AgainstChicago punks Rise Against have announced details for their next album.  The album is titled The Violence and is set to drop on June 9, 2017 via Virgin Records.  The band last released The Black Market in 2014 via DGC/Interscope Records.

Coinciding with the announcement, the band has premiered the song “The Violence,” which can be heard below.

Read More…

   

Vanishing Life Release New Video Ahead Of TogetherFest

togetherfestVanishing Life have released a new video today for their charged self titled track that is taken from their debut album, Surveillance, which is available via Dine Alone Records. Vanishing Life‘s Walter Schreifels is also curating TogetherFest at London’s Electric Ballroom in Camden this Saturday, expect a full night of live hardcore headlined by Youth of Today, who will be joined by American Nightmare, Trash Talk and Wolf Down, plus a debut UK performance from Vanishing Life whose line-up includes members of Rise Against, …And You Will Know Us By The Trail of Dead and Bad Religion.

Tickets for TogetherFest can be purchased here and Surveillance can be ordered here

You can view the video for Vanishing Life below Read More…

Tours: Rise Against / Deftones / Thrice

Rise Against, Deftones and Thrice tourOrange County, Calif., post-hardcore band Thrice announced they will be special guests on an upcoming tour headlined by Rise Against and Deftones. The North American summer tour will also feature Three Trapped Tigers and Frank Iero and the Patience in select locations. Order tickets here and check out the dates below.

Thrice continues to tour in support of their ninth album, To Be Everywhere Is To Be Nowhere, released May 2016 via Vagrant Records.

Read More…

Tours: Deftones / Rise Against / Thrice

The DeftonesSacramento alt/metal icons Deftones will be heading on tour with Rise Against and special guests Thrice this June and July.  The band continue to support their 8th full length, Gore, released in April 2016 via Warner Bros Records.

Tour dates are below.

Read More…

vanishing-life

Vanishing Life

Surveillance

Dine Alone Records
By

Rating: 4/5

 
 

 

 

Vanishing Life are an alternative and punk supergroup that features …And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead‘s Autry Fulbright and Jamie Miller, the latter of which is also the sticksman for Bad ReligionWalter Schreifels, formerly of Quicksand, Gorilla Biscuits and Rival Schools, and Zach Blair, from Rise Against, which is a combination that should tantalise anyone who has a love of music from the noisier side of the street. Vanishing Life release their debut album, Surveillance, today, November 25th, via Dine Alone Records, if you were expecting some straight up punk rock, based on the former bands of the majority of the members, then you’ll be in for a surprise, as this is not the album you’d have been anticipating.

From the outset Surveillance is a pounding collection of stripped down fuzzed up garage punk, the second single from the album, The Realist, kicks things off with a grungy hook laden riff, that you’ll find stuck in your head for hours after you’ve listened to the album. Despite the rigid approach to the dark distorted style the songwriting carries enough variety to stop the album ever becoming repetitive. From the upbeat and relentless tracks Painter and Exile, the first single off the album, to the fucked up fuzz of Pretty Ruined and Seven Pointed Star  through to the dark and frantic nature of the title track and People Running, Surveillance is a pulverising forty minutes of fuzzy punk rock

The whole of Surveillance has a lo-fi appeal and resembles the lovechild of a chance meeting between the Mudhoney and Jane’s Addiction after a heavy night out. The album is punctuated by two brief unnecessary instrumentals, that for me don’t fit alongside the rest of the material, but this slight fault aside this is an unpredictable barrage of dark fuzz that defies any preconceptions that you may have had about Vanishing Life, and what more could you ask for from a debut album?

 Surveillance will be available for pre-order on all formats from Dine Alone Records here

‘Togetherfest’ Coming To London on 25th February 2017

togetherfestAmerican hardcore visionary, Walter Schreifels has announced he will curate another TogetherFest at London’s Electric Ballroom in Camden on 25th February with a full night of live hardcore headlined by seminal band Youth of Today, who originally formed in 1985. Other guest bands invited to play include American Nightmare, Trash Talk and Wolf Down, plus Walter’s newest band, Vanishing Life, whose line-up includes members of Rise Against, …And You Will Know Us By The Trail of Dead and Bad Religion. Vanishing Life will play their debut UK show at TogetherFest bringing those in the scene together for a very special and inspiring night out.

Tickets for Togetherfest are available here

 

Vanishing Life Announce Debut Album ‘Surveillance’

vanishing-lifePunk quartet Vanishing Life, that features members of Rise Against, Quicksand, …And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead, Gorilla Biscuits and Bad Religion, have announced their debut album, Surveillance, will be released on November 11th via Dine Alone Records. The album features the new single, The Realist, as well as the previously released single, Exile, and twelve more fuzzed out, hard hitting punk rock jams. Vanishing Life distil the hard charged energy and spirit of their punk and hardcore histories into a stripped down, urgent sound that’s reflective of their unique individual talents, but the furthest thing from a retread. The first two singles are available via iTunes and the full album pre-orders will launch on October 14th.

Surveillance will be available for pre-order on all formats from Dine Alone Records here

Video: Rise Against – People Live Here

Rise-AgainstChicago punks Rise Against have posted a new video for their track “People Live Here.” The song is taken from their most recent full length, The Black Market, available now via DGC/Interscope Records.

Watch the video below.

Read More…

Rise Against Speaks Out On Earth Day

rise_against_2014Rise Against‘s short Earth Day video for the Sierra Club is getting major love on YouTube right now.  Watch it below.

Rise Against has a history for advocacy on animal rights, humanitarian & environmental issues. So it’s no surprise that even though they’re prepping to go on tour, Tim and the gang still take time to give a shout-out to the planet.

Video: Rise Against – ‘Tragedy + Time’

Rise AgainstChicago punks Rise Against have posted a new video for their track Tragedy + Time. The song is taken from their most recent full length, The Black Market, released earlier  this year via DGC/Interscope Records.

The band are currently on tour across the UK before heading to the continent with Pennywise and Emily’s Army in tow. Check out the full dates and the video for Tragedy  + Time, below

Read More…

Rise Against Post Lyric Video For ‘Time + Tragedy’

Rise-AgainstChicago punks Rise Against have posted a lyric video for Time + Tragedy, a track taken from their critically acclaimed new album The Black Market, which was released earlier this year via Interscope Records. 

Check out the video below (US and Canada only)

Read More…

Tim McIlrath (Rise Against) – Civil Wars (Guns N’ Roses)

A-F RecordsRise Against frontman Tim McIlrath recently sat down for a cover of the Guns N’ Roses classic, “Civil Wars.”  The song was recorded acoustically and is available to stream here courtesy AltPress. 

The track will appear on the upcoming A-F Records compilation of protest songs, This Concerns Everyone, due out on November 18, 2014.

Tours: Rise Against (US)

Rise-AgainstRise Against has announced that they will be setting our for a tour of North American.  The band is supporting their recently released new full length, The Black Market, released earlier this summer on Interscope Records.  

Full dates are below.

Read More…

Rise Against

Rise Against

The Black Market

DGC/ Interscope
By

Rating: 3.5/5

 
 

 

 

Rise Against’s career trajectory has moved from Warped Tour sidestage punk act to mainstream arena rock group, increasing their fan base significantly while alienating listeners who cherish their earliest releases. They are similar to Against Me! in that respect, as well as their blend of passionately political and personal lyrics. While Laura Jane Grace recently unleashed what is arguably their most vital recording, Rise Against have occasionally suffered from watered down slogan chants and mediocre radio friendly rock songs. Their past few releases have simply been more of the same, appeasing fans thirst for new music, but never stretching their musical boundaries.

The Black Market isn’t exactly a complete reinvention of Rise Against, but they appear to have consciously stretched themselves both lyrically and musically. There is enough familiar music for the longtime fans, but there are also interesting musical turns and enough introspection to balance the sloganeering.

Lead single, I Don’t Want to Be Here is a great introduction to the overarching theme of the Black Market. Tim McIlrath overlays a familiar sounding track with world weary lyrics that discuss the overbearing weight of righteous indignation. Even the most passionate activists have moments of hopelessness, when the emotional trauma of feeling empathy becomes unbearable. The sorrow conveyed as he sings I know there’s nothing left worth staying for, your paradise is something I’ve endured amidst repetitions of the song title is heartbreaking.

This perfectly encapsulates The Black Market. This is a deeply personal album with overtly political tones. Despite their commercial success, the members of Rise Against are still as passionate as ever about the state of the world; human rights, war, Capitalism and the environment are all explored here, as are the emotional tolls caused by actually caring about these things.

The songs on the album average 4 minutes, which offers the band lots of time to explore lyrics in depth. The weight of the title track is countered with the upbeat Tragedy & Time, which is reminiscent of their classic Like the Angel. The lyrics are just vague enough to be relatable to a wider audience. They could easily apply to a simple American teenage love affair and the bittersweet memories that come with moving on. But, it could just as easily be applied to a displaced family in Gaza, standing among the rubble of their destroyed home and mourning murdered family, all the while maintaining an enduring strength of spirit against all odds. Obviously there is more emotional weight to the latter interpretation, but Rise Against are aware who will be spending their money to buy their music (i.e. middle class American teens), so the vagueness works in their favor.

The most surprising moment comes with The Eco-Terrorist in Me, a fast paced hardcore tinged punk throwback song that rails against the ridiculous habit of politicians actively looking for targets to serve their interests. As North Americans realize that terrorists are not actually a realistic threat to our daily lives, fear mongering politicians widen their nets and begin to throw the label terrorist at various groups, including environmentalists, to sell their ideology. The anger expressed through the track is refreshing, a new step for Rise Against that blends the passion of their earliest music with the maturity that has come with time. Tracks like Beautiful Indifference channel their punk side as well. The biggest departure is the southern rock swagger of Zero Visibility, with fuzzed out vocals and driving guitars.

The majority of the album is balanced with more melodic offerings that recent fans will be comfortable with. On Sudden Life, they channel the 80s, taking care to never approach cheesiness, but giving the song an interesting flavor. The concept is a little heavy handed, with an allegory to heading into the afterlife (with references to angels and heaven itself), but the message is positive at its core. McIlrath frames the song as a wakeup call for those who are weary, paralleling themes found throughout the album. He speaks to those who are broken, beat, and tired out. wanna live but don’t know how and tells them to fight back against the comfort of the light, to stay here and fight back against the darkness. It is a sentiment worthy of a positive hardcore song, with his proclamation that he will not go gentle into that good night. There is another literary reference on Methadone, a dark pop punk love song that mentions Romeo & Juliet. The somber acoustic People Live Here is a plea to the religious, to a Christian god and his hypocritical believers, to the warmongers and the Capitalists who put profit over the environment. The vitriol contained in the lines from the coffins full of kindergarteners, is this what you call free? From the hate that drips from all your crosses, are your hands so clean? is in stark contrast to the pretty string accompaniment.  The closing track, Bridges, examines the state of the American economy and the failure of the government to take care of its’ people. The image created with the simple line, we built the bridges we now sleep under reminds us that human rights failures are not only overseas.

The Black Market is an interesting Rise Against album. It has enough familiarity to appeal to longtime fans, but they reached a little further this time. The deeply personal lyrics, which show only the faintest glimmers of hope, anchor the release which weaves in political discussions in an approachable way. No one can argue that their political music is intellectual like Propagandhi, but it is a welcome introduction to important issues for those prefer their music a little more mainstream. The Black Market is easily identifiable as a Rise Against album, but they stretched the bounds of their formula just enough to create an album that is significantly stronger than their last few releases. 

Video: Rise Against – ‘I Don’t Want To Be Here Anymore’

Rise AgainstChicago punks Rise Against have posted the official video for their track I Don’t Want To Be Here Anymore, the lead single from their just-released new record, The Black Market. This is the band’s fifth full length and it dropped earlier this month via Interscope Records.

The band have also announced tour dates in Europe, UK and North American for later this year, check out the full dates and the video for I Don’t Want To Be Here Anymore below.

Read More…

Rise Against Launch Pre-Order Bundles; Full US Tour In Fall

Rise AgainstChicago punk band Rise Against has launched exclusive pre-order bundles for its upcoming new album, I Don’t Want To Be Here Anymore, which is set to drop on July 15, 2014 via Rise Records.

The band has also announced a Fall tour of the US in September/October with Touche Amore and Radkey.  Full tour dates are below.

Read More…

Tour: Rise Against (UK & Europe)

rise_against_2014Ahead of the release of their new album Endgame, Chicago punks Rise Against have announced their first tour dates in support of the record. UK fans will rejoice as the band will be back in the country starting in November for a series of headlining dates for the first time since 2011.

Endgame is due to drop on July 14th via Interscope Records, pre orders available here and you can check out the full list of tour dates below:

Read More…

Rise Against Reveal Track Listing

Rise AgainstChicago punk band Rise Against has revealed the track listing for their upcoming album, I Don’t Want To Be Here Anymore, which is set to drop on July 15, 2014 via Rise Records.

Check out the track list as it appears on the back of the album below.

Read More…

Rise Against ‘I Don’t Want To Be Here Anymore’ Cover Art

Rise-AgainstChicago punk band Rise Against has revealed art work for their upcoming album, I Don’t Want To Be Here Anymore, which is set to drop on July 15, 2014 via Rise Records.

Album art can be found below.

Read More…

Rise Against Announce New Album

Rise-AgainstChicago punk band Rise Against have announced that their new album, The Black Market will drop on July 15th via Rise Records. This is the band’s first full LP since 2011’s Endgame and the first single, I Don’t Want To Be Here Anymore will be available through major streaming services from Tuesday June 10th. Vocalist Tim McIlrath said this about the new record and lead single:

“Rise Against has always been a political band, but also a personal band…We’ve always had songs that have a foot in both worlds. This album is a lot more introspective to me.” 

 

 

Memphis May Fire – Beneath The Skin

memphis may fireDallas, TX hardcore rockers Memphis May Fire has premiered a new song.  The track is titled “Beneath The Skin” and comes from their upcoming LP, Unconditional, which is due out on March 25, 2014 via Rise Records.

Listen to the song here.

Read More…

Exclusive: Dead Ending (Rise Against/Alkaline Trio) – All The Villains You Call Boss

Dead Ending

Chicago is a breeding ground for punk and has, over the years, produced some of the biggest names in the scene. Every once in a while, all those names get together and form a punk rock super group. Dead Ending is one of those bands.

Featuring members of Rise Against, Articles of Faith, Alkaline Trio and All Eyes WestDead Ending is a who’s-who of Chicago punk lore churning out raw, no-frills, 80’s hardcore punk.

After two successful EPs on Alternative Tentacles – 2012’s S/T and 2013’s Dead Ending II – the band is now ready to drop DEIII through Bridge Nine Records. The five song EP features guest vocalist from fellow punk legends Jake Burns (Stiff Little Fingers) and Jeff Pezzati (Naked Raygun, The Bomb) and will be available April 15th.

We’re excited to bring an exclusive stream of the track All The Villains You Call Boss, which can be streamed below.

The EP can be pre-ordered here.

Read More…

Rise Against B-Sides Sampler Video

Rise AgainstChicago’s Rise Against released their b-side and cover album,  Long Forgotten Songs: B-Sides & Covers 2000-2013, on September 10th. To continue promoting it, they’ve just released a sampler video featuring audio clips from every song on the album played over live footage from their recent performance at Orion Festival along with studio photos, and other pictures. 

The 26 song album features tracks from their entire career, starting before they signed with Fat Wreck Chords right up to the present. 

The video is below.

Read More…

   
Live Concert Review

Sonic Boom 2010 with Rise Against, Weezer, City and Colour, Bad Religion and more

Live (Sept. 4th, 2010)

Northlands - Edmonton, Alberta
By

 
 

 

 

Yesterday’s second annual Sonic Boom Festival in Edmonton could really be divided into four separate sections: stoner rock, indie rock, mellow rock and modern rock.

The day began with the stoner rock – mellow, reggae tunes by KO and The Dirty Heads.  KO played as people began filing in at 11:30 in the morning and he seemed a little out of place in the big bandshell with only his acoustic guitar and backing tapes. For the last half of his set he left the acoustic guitar behind and jumped around the stage with his pre-recorded music backing him up. It wasn’t a horrible set; but if you came late and missed him, you didn’t miss much.

SoCal’s reggae act The Dirty Heads came next and continued with the easy-going vibe, singing songs of smoking dope and slowly getting people to bop along with them.  The duo drummers – a bongo set and a standard set – breathed a unique life into the set that ended with their hit single Lay Me Down. While Rome from Sublime With Rome may not have been there to deliver the chorus, the band was more than able to pull of the track without them.

It was The Arkells that really pumped up the volume and was the first true rock band of the day – and the first in the series of indie rock acts set to play in the afternoon. They did everything a burgeoning rock act should do – they had a solid stage presence, were entertaining, sounded spot on, created fan interaction and even dragged members of Tokyo Police Club on stage for Oh, The Boss Is Coming.At the end of the day, The Arkells was the best band outside of the four headliners and spurred the crowd into the middle of the afternoon.

Vancouver’s Mother Mother were next and, sadly, couldn’t keep up the same momentum.  They failed to pull off their quirky sound live and Ryan Guldemond’s vocals sounded weak in the mix. Great harmonies and some funky dance moves saved the show from being a total loss but it was still a step down compared to the energetic Arkells from beforehand. Tokyo Police Club picked it up a bit; but it wasn’t until they played Your English Is Good that the crowd really got into it.

Wintersleep was the first of the two slower bands on the day’s bill and served mostly as background music as I sat around with friends. Nothing against them, just wasn’t in the mood for something so slow and wanted to conserve energy for Bad Religion who on next celebrating their thirty anniversary. Their set was the first truly raucous set of the evening as all the old punks came out in droves and pulled the pit apart.  Bad Religion were in top form, pulling from their extensive catalogue tracks like Fuck Armageddon This Is Hell, A Walk, You, Generator, American Jesus, Sinister Rouge, Los Angeles Is Burning, Requiem for Dissent, Recipe for Hate and more.

The rain began to fall heavily during their set but rather than put a damper on the evening’s events, the rain dropped down as a refresher – cooling off the runners in the circle pit and thirty years in, Bad Religion hadn’t lost a beat.

Alexisonfire’s Dallas Green, under his pseudonym City and Colour, came next in the line-up, an odd choice considering the placement of his set time.  His stripped down acoustic ballads would’ve fit better after Wintersleep – keeping the mellow acts together – rather than after Bad Religion. As it was, he toned down the energy far too much; a fact that he himself commented on. Green is a powerful performer; he’s self-deprecating, has a strong voice and blends nicely into a small surrounding. His shows at the Myer Horowitz and Winspeare Centre have been memorable for their intimated nature and light hearted delivery. Playing on a massive stage set up in an empty parking lot did not allow Green to delivery his set with the same intimacy and pulled the tempo of the evening back down to zero.

Weezer took that tempo and brought up back up to full force, delivering probably the best concert Edmonton has seen in 2009 in their very first trip to the City of Champions. It’s hard to pinpoint exactly what Weezer did that made their performance stand out so much – it’s more the fact of how good everything worked together.

Of course there are the songs. In the hour and fifteen minute set, Weezer played every hit they’ve ever written – Say It Aint Show, Undone (The Sweater Song), Troublemaker, Beverley Hills,  Island in the Sun, Hash Pipe, El Schorcho, My Name Is Jonas, Buddy Holly, Surf Wax America and the list goes on.  They merged MGMT’s Kids with Lady Gaga’s Poker Face, introduced their new single Memories and ended with (If You’re Wondering if I Want You To) I Want You To. The set list was spot on and no one could’ve left wanting more; and yet there was still more than that.

After last night’s show, I can’t help but think that Rivers Cuomo may be one of the best front man around despite his anti-frontman traits. Ignoring trends of styles, Cuomo is always himself – who else can sport the same pair of glasses for over fifteen years? He climbed the stage, jumped in the crowd, juggled a soccer ball in the background, bounced on a trampoline and even sat back stage for the entirety ofPork and Beans. No other band could pull it off, but Weezer can and did.

Their final flourish saw all of Weezer climb the drum set, each taking a different tom or cymbal helping Josh Freese complete a furious drum solo. They played, bathed in white spotlights, in front of their glowing W logo and a better ending there could not have been.

Following that set was tough, but Rise Against did a valiant effort.

The sky was finally black as the Chicago four piece hit the stage, meaning the spotlights could be used to full effect. The band was Rise Against to a T – angry, fierce and energetic.  Their crowd has grown monumentally since the first time I saw them at Red’s in 2004 and that can be considered a good thing or bad depending on your perspective. They stuck mostly to newer material from Appeal To Reason –Collapse, Re-education Through Labor, Long Forgotten Sons, Kotov Syndrome, Savior The Strength to Go On, Audience of One, Entertainment;  but did dive into their older material for tracks like Like The Angel (the only Revolutions Per Minute cut sadly), Give It All,  Prayer of the Refugee, Drones and Ready to Fall. For their encore they did their regular acoustic numbers – Swing Life Away and Hero of War and while it would’ve been nice to hear some of their older material; they’ve toured through Edmonton so many times they’ve probably gotten bored of playing those songs by now.

Rise Against were as solid as ever, the only downside being Tim McIlrath’s vocals were weaker than normal. Suffering from being both low in the mix and oddly high pitched at times, McIlrath didn’t deliver his screams with the same growl he normally does. A minor detail but a good show nonetheless.

At the end of the second annual Sonic Boom Festival, my friends and I walked away – limping and hurt in our own individual injuries from the pit – but with a smile on our faces. It may have had a rocky start, but the fest ended with a boom as Rise Against and Weezer delivered the best modern rock show of the summer.

Live Concert Review

Rise Against

Live (May 13/14th, 2011)

Aragon Ballroom - Chicago, IL
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Growing up in the Chicagoland area, Rise Against was always an important part of the scene. They played often, never put on a disappointing performance, members were in other influential bands such asThe Killing Tree and 88 Fingers Louie, and – perhaps most captivating – is the amazingly talented vocalist and rhythm guitarist, Tim Mcllarth. With his high energy, amazing chords, and unique ability to demand a crowd’s attention, there is never a dull moment at a Rise Against show; a legacy that has lasted true since the beginning. The band returned to Chicago with Four Year Strong and Bad Religionon May 13th and 14th at the Aragon Ballroom for two sold out shows in support of their latest record, Endgame.  
On the Friday evening of the show, Bad Religion played many songs off the Dissent of Man including Wrong Way Kids, Cyanide, and Won’t Somebody. For the Saturday show they took the stage withThe Day that the Earth Stalled, but only played one more off the new record the rest of the ight, with a set mostly consisted of old favorites. Three songs in, they played Recipe for Hate and from there it was a stream of great songs including You, Generator, A Walk, Fuck Armageddon, this is Hell, and Infected. For the 45 minute set, there were several pits, a few pogoing bodies scattered throughout the crowd, and a great opening act set list. Although most of the guys are in their mid-40s, they were energetic and kept members of the crowd, young and old, bobbing their heads and pushing their neighbors. It was apparent that many people were unfamiliar with Bad Religion, with only twenty-percent of the crowd singing along, but unfamiliarity was not enough to keep the crowd from digging Bad Religion’s infectious riffs as multiple pits broke out throughout the 4000 person capacity venue.
                
By the end of Bad Religion’s set, the Aragon Ballroom was radiating with body heat. There wasn’t a free spot on the floor, and the crowd was buzzing with excitement for their hometown boys. The lights dimmed with an ear piercing roar of cheering and Rise Against ran on stage. The backdrop had the bands’ old RISE logo along with the new heart and fist logo. Chamber the Cartridge began, everyone in the crowd was singing, and the floor erupted into a mess of flying, jumping, and pushing bodies.
               
Lead guitarist and backing vocalist, Zach Blair, ran back and forth across the stage, switching from stage left to right with bassist Joe Principe. Blair showed off karate-style kicks that could rival any can-can dancer’s.  Mcllarth would play guitar during some songs, then ditch his axe to get some high jumps and mobile singing in. 
                
Rise Against
 has always been good at captivating a crowd, and not much has changed except the size of their audience. Their over an hour long set list on Saturday consisted mostly of songs off Endgame, Appeal to Reason, and The Sufferer & the Witness, with no songs from their Fat years (they only played Heaven Knows off Revolutions Per Minute on Friday). This may be due to the fact that the last time Rise Against played in Chicago in 2009, they played an entire set dedicated to their first two albums on Fat. 

Although it was disappointing that they didn’t play anything from those releases, it was expected. In my opinion, those two records are heavier hitting on a personal level, but Rise is a politically fueled band with a lot of strong messages in their lyrics, and they are clearly taking advantage of their popularity to fuel a punk rock machine to spread a message to the masses. Not surprisingly, PETA and Iraq Veterans Against the War were present at the event, and Mcllarth took a few moments to discuss political issues between songs. 

Despite their rise in popularity, Rise Against will always hold a place in the heart of Chicagoans. It may be disappointing to the fan that saw the band at the Fireside many years ago and didn’t hear one song off their early records, but there was never a dull moment on stage. You can tell the band still has a great time playing, that they feel very strongly about the music they play, and as a fan, you can’t help but feel genuinely happy that they’re on top of the world right now. 

As they said their goodnights, and started their last song, Give It All, all the memories came rushing back and it was hard not get caught up in the moment. Mcllarth jumped into the crowd to sing that last song as the crowd went nuts. It was a perfect ending to their second sold out show in Chicago. For anyone who has been there since the beginning, to the kids that might have experienced their first Rise Against show, maybe even first concert that evening, Rise Against didn’t fail to deliver the amazing live performance that their legacy is all about. This Chicago band has come pretty far, and it was clear that their hometown is pretty proud of them.

   
Live Concert Review

Rise Against, Pennywise, Riverboat Gamblers

Live (December 20th, 2007)

Shaw Conference Centre - Edmonton, Alberta
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For the past three years the coming of December meant more than just finals, Christmas and holidays. It also meant that us Edmontonians would be treated to a night of music at the Shaw Conference Centre with an impressive list of bands. This year was no different, with Rise Against and Pennywise, the third annual Jingle Bell Rock was sure to be a memorable one. However, as I walked into the venue my jaw involuntarily dropped in disappointment.

“How is this Jingle Bell Rock?” I asked myself. The first year had giant snowmen, Christmas candles and an elaborate stage setup. The second year trimmed it down but kept the theme with a glowing set of lights shining out the name of the show. This year there was nothing. It was just a regular concert; no decorations and no holiday feel, just the same stage that was there two weeks prior for Alexisonfire and every other show that hit the Shaw Conference Centre this year. Normally it would mean nothing but as this was billed as the holiday show and advertised with such flare I expected something more than just a regular show. Alas, my hopes were crushed. Luckily the music was good enough to make up for it.

The first band that hit the stage was Texas’ Riverboat Gamblers, and I had very little interest in seeing them again. They opened up for Against Me! back in March and put on an entertaining enough set, but nothing that memorable. This evening’s performance was no different. It didn’t help much that the sound set up was pretty bad for them. The bass drum went from being inaudible to blaring through the speakers overpowering everything and throughout it all the vocals were somewhat muffled and not all that distinct too. They stuck to songs from To The Confusion Of Our Enemies and had some people moving but most just stayed in the beer garden.

Next came the legendary Pennywise who ripped it hard for a full hour. Their appearance on the stage attracted all the old punks from the comfort of the beer garden and into the turmoil of the mosh pit. The band did what they always do and that is play lightning fast skate punk. The crowd sung along to them at every chance they had and they fit in more songs than I ever thought possible as they ripped through fan favorites like Fuck Authority and Bro Hymm along with Pennywise, My God, Society, Living For Today, Same Old Story, Waste Of Time, God Save The USA, My Own Country and more. They even fit in a cover of Black Flag‘s Nervous Breakdown to great reception. The band was able to show how they’ve managed to remain a staple in the punk community for so long; and no fans were disappointed.

Headlining the sold out gig was Rise Against on their second last show in support of The Sufferer & The Witness; however, the fact that the tour was promoting that album seemed like an afterthought for the band. Instead of sticking solely to the newer material, the Chicago foursome decided to mix up the set list a bit which was a good choice considering it was their third time in Edmonton this year. Opening up with Behind Closed Doors, they then jumped into the fan favorite Like The Angel – and odd choice for the second song of the night but that’s what happened all night as they played a wide selection of songs they normally don’t touch. Since this was my eighth or ninth time seeing the band – and fourth time this year – the new songs came as a great surprise. I’m talking about songs like Alive & Well, Rumors Of My Demise Have Been Greatly Exaggerated, TorchesInjection and Obstructed View. All songs that they’ve never played before. Yes, they played some of their staples songs like Survive, Give It All, State Of The Union, Prayer Of The Refugee, Ready To Fall and Dancing For Rain and they did miss some important ones like Paper Wings, Life Less Frightening, Broken English, Voices Of Camera and Heaven Knows, but the inclusion of those rarer songs more than made up for it. The only thing that would’ve made it better was if they had added another acoustic song alongsideSwing Life Away like they normally do with The Tour Song or Everchanging. Still, that’s just nitpicking and pieces of afterthought; because while the show was happening it didn’t matter that they missed a few songs due to the sheer pleasure of hearing Obstructed View live for the first time.

So no, the show didn’t have the proper feel to be billed as the Jingle Bell Rock; but that didn’t take away from the fact that it was a great show musically and a great way to cap off the year.

Live Concert Review

Live (December 3rd, 2008)

Rise Against, Thursday, Sage Francis

Shaw Conference Centre - Edmonton, Alberta
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For a punk rock show of this magnitude, Sage Francis was an odd choice for an opening act. While yes, I understand he has earned respect in the punk rock community and was, as he said, “plucked from the hip-hop community and thrown into the punk rock one,” I can’t help but think that it would’ve been more appropriate at a slightly smaller punk rock show. But here he was anyway, ready to spit our his rhymes to the sold out crowd.

He started off well with some good, self-deprecating humour that got people laughing and more at ease with seeing a sole MC on the stage instead of a full blown band. Songs like Jah Didn’t Kill Johnnyand Escape Artist were played to a great response and he even got the crowd to help him out on Damage. So while it may not have been the most natural of shows, the crowd accepted him and cheered along when necessary; well, for the most part anyway. To end his thirty minute set he chose the heavily politically track – and the first song I had ever heard by him – Makeshift Patriot. Throughout the track you could see him singing directly at one person but as the song was suddenly stopped you realized he wasn’t playing to a fan but instead an instigator. Obviously angered, Sage Francis completely attacked one kid in the front row; calling him out for yelling “Rise Against!” throughout his entire set, Sage Francis reminded him of the fact that it was Rise Against who invited him on tour and that chanting their name won’t get them out any faster. Pointing out his Zoo York hoodie and “flavour of the month” haircut, the MC ended his thirty minutes with a simple instruction: “have some fucking respect” and walked off as Team America‘s America, Fuck Yeah! faded out through the background. An odd ending for sure, but one that will never be forgotten.

New Jersey’s Thursday were up next and treated the crowd to a set that made a bit more sense to them. Like always, Thursday put on a solid performance, playing songs that spanned their entire career; from Understanding in A Car Crash to one from their recent split with Envy and even a new cut from their forthcoming album that had Tim McIlrath grabbing a mic and joining in. The highlight of their set was, like always, their stage presence. By lowering all the lights in the building and flooding the stage with red from behind, the band created a picture perfect combination of shadows and music that is always memorable.

But it was Rise Against who got people out of the beer gardens and in front of the stage. The floor was packed air tight as they ripped into Drones and Give It All; it wasn’t until they hit the third song –State of The Union – that you actually had some room to breathe and move at whim. The melodic hardcore act swerved in and out of releases, going from Collapse (Post-Amerika), to Behind Closed Doors and Heaven Knows without a stopping. There was, however, a heavy leniency towards their newer material as they played five songs from Appeal to Reason and eight from The Sufferer and The Witness. This had its ups and downs. While it was nice to hear some of the newer material, I missed their older stuff as well. I was glad to hear Life Less Frightening finally, a song they’ve rarely played in Edmonton; but they missed Paper Wings, Dancing For Rain and tons of cuts from Revolutions Per Minute that I would’ve loved to hear. Plus, with only one song from The Unraveling, they passed overEverchanging and Six Ways ‘Till Sunday too.

Like they always do for their encores, Tim walked onto the stage with an acoustic stage; this time however he was joined by Zach Blair too so they could belt out the new acoustic song Hero of War. Afterwards he began talking about touring and friends in bands who had faded which got me hoping they’d play Jawbreaker‘s Tour Song or maybe Everchanging but alas he kept it safe with Swing Life Away – and by the rise in volume as the crowd sung along, it was clear that I was probably the only one hoping to hear a different acoustic song. After that they put away the acoustic to play three final songs,Audience of One, The Good Left Undone and Prayer of the Refugee, before calling it a night and sending all the sweaty kids home for the evening.