Rise Against at The Roseland Ballroom
Rise Against, Alkaline Trio, Thrice, Gaslight Anthem
Roseland Ballroom, NYC
October 13, 2008
It’s been a few years since melodic hardcore giants Rise Against played Manhattan and the hipster saturated island has been starving for some decent rock & roll. Luckily, the Chicago-based quartet brought a healthy dose of adrenaline-charged punk rock along with a nice medley of opening bands to fatten up the trolls in skinny jeans.
On paper, the support for the evening leaned towards emo, but in truth, what sounds lame on Fuse comes off much better in a live hall. Case in point, Gaslight Anthem. For weeks these tattooed Jersey boys have been cloggin up the boob tube with their Bouncing Souls meets Bruce Springsteen posturing. Guess what? They actually rock…and they kinda sound like Bruce Springsteen on speed. I thoroughly enjoyed their set and look forward to hearing the full length.
The same can’t be said for Thrice. I used to love these guys when they sounded like a mellower version of Strife, but the moment I saw the keyboards on stage I got worried. Sure, some of their stuff still resides in the same city as say the Blood Brothers, but they lost me the moment they reached for the Radiohead vibe. Yes, I was bored during Thrice.
With Alkaline Trio you know what you’re in for. They look like AFI, but sound like Eve 6. They are amazing musicians, but the lyrics seem geared for the Emily the Strange set. They can pass for wussies, but at least they don’t have keyboards. I actually was quite entertained by the trio of gothic punks, and if it weren’t for my anxiousness to see Rise Against, I might have actually sang along to some of their catchier numbers.
But then came Rise Against.
With blue lights blazing, guitars on full shred, and harmonies in all the right places, Rise Against took stage to a throng of fans that were ready to die for any cause the band threw at them. Kicking into high gear with their best song ever, “Drones,” the band became the backdrop to at sea of crowd surfers and at least three circle pits that rotated 360 degrees for the entire hour and ten minutes set.
Singer Tim McIlrath ran around like a madman, spring boarding off risers like a young Bruce Dickinson and screaming for change. At one point, Sick of it All’s Lou Koller materialized out of nowhere, grabbed a mic and joined in on a song, matching Tim’s throaty cry with his signature Cookie Monster cry. It was a sight to behold.
The band covered most of the highlights off their last two records, touching briefly on their earlier work, and gracing the fans with a few cuts from their latest release “Appeal to Reason.” As expected, the new tracks took on a fresher, more aggressive life in the live set.
Rise Against encored with a short acoustic segment featuring “Swing Life Away” before leveling the Roseland Ballroom with a monsterous performance of “Prayer of the Refugee.” Watching the band tear the place apart while singing these amazing call-to-arms punk masterpieces made me recall Bad Religion back when they were still relevant. Rise Against has taken the torch and run with it, pretty much becoming the new Bad Religion. And that’s not a bad thing. Don’t miss this show if it hits your town.