Some bands have a strange, almost cult-like following. I love it. I love finding myself at shows amidst the die-hard fan base and being a bit of a fly on the wall. I love the conversations I hear about who has seen the band more times and who’s tattoo representing the band is more original. It’s very easy to see how much a band at a show like this truly affected many of their fans life. It sounds cheesy, but Rise Against is one of those bands that many people credit for saving them from the edge when they were going to give it all up. I definitely have some of those bands for myself but Rise Against is not one of them. That being said, being able to witness some of these people sing along to the songs that truly saved their lives is an experience that I wouldn’t trade for anything on the planet.
The show started with Canadian based punk band White Lung. They were clearly the unknown on this bill but the quickly growing crowd seemed to be struck by the four piece as soon as they walked into the giant theatre-like room. Singer Mish Way-Barber seemed the mesmerize the crowd as she clutched the microphone stand and powered through the bands’ quick set. With four albums out, White Lung is not a new band but they seemed to be new to majority of the audience. Whether the crowd listened in for just a couple of notes before going back to their conversations, or they tuned into the entire set, White Lung had everyone in the palm of their hands at some point. Their sound was a unique and refreshing blend of punk and garage rock. The energy that Mish brought to the table was more than enough to have me sold on White Lung. You could feel the anger and frustration that was put into the songs but you could also feel a sense of delicacy that she put behind her vocals. I don’t know if many people noticed her attention to detail or the way the rest of the band seemed to fall by the wayside and let her tell the stories through her movement and energy, but I did and I loved it.
Following up White Lung was Pierce the Veil. How do I put this nicely? Pierce the Veil is a great band if you’re a huge fan of “Hot Topic Metal”. They have the look and energy of any great metal band but their music is vanilla, generic, and anything but metal. That being said, it’s not terrible. It’s like my dad always says, “They’re great at what they do. I just hate what they do!”. I think that deep down I knew what I was getting myself into. I have seen these guys before and typically tune out during majority of their sets but I was trying to be a bit optimistic last night. I had an open mind until, prior to them taking the stage, all I could here were screeching females chanting for the band to come out. I was immediately annoyed and immediately ready for their set to be done.
The fact that there was a moshpit going on during the set was enough to have me shaking my head in shame. Again, the music wasn’t terrible but it sure as shit wasn’t music to mosh to. “Do you feel alive?!” screamed Vic. I responded in my mind “I did, but then you started playing your music and I started watching the crowd and now I feel dead inside.” Sure, that’s a little harsh but it’s also the truth. I just don’t get it, I never will and I truly don’t know why I keep trying to understand today’s youth.
Pierce the Veil’s set never really got any better for me. I tried to look for the silver lining and it just wasn’t working out for me. I don’t get this whole “Hot Topic Metal” scene and I never will. It will always be the bane of my existence and be something that makes me truly feel like, what’s the point of trying to cover these great little metal bands and give them exposure when the kids are listening to crap like this. I wasn’t the only one who seemed to be annoyed by the young and obnoxious crowd. As soon as Pierce the Veil’s set was done, a couple of guys behind me yelled to the tweens to get out of the way and let the older crowd who had come for Rise Against show them how it’s done.
As soon as Rise Against took the stage, the crowd erupted into a sweaty mess. The young crowd had been pushed out of the middle of the floor and a bunch of middle age guys immediately started opening up a pit as they pushed and shoved people out of the way. I instantly felt out of place as I found myself to be one of the few people not screaming along to every word of this Illinois based melodic hardcore band. As uncomfortable as it made me feel, I was loving being a bit of an outsider. I always seem to be the one freaking out over seeing bands and I leave my friends on the sidelines to just watch me but tonight the shoe was on the other foot and I loved it. People had tears flowing down their faces and their arms stretched as high up as they could. They were amidst a truly religious experience and there I was just taking it all in like a breath of fresh air.
Rise Against’s message is something I can definitely get behind. They speak of politics, peace and mental health which is clearly one of the reasons they have this cult following. Listening to singer Tim McIlrath perform with an unbelievable sense of passion and care behind his voice made me instantly recognize why this is one of those life-saving bands. It was the way Tim instantly jumped from the stage to the fence that kept the crowd at a safe distance within the second song. He reached out and gave a high five to anyone who he could reach and was doing so with a genuine smile on his face. He had this unspeakable connection with his fans that was matched only with the connection the fans had back to him and the band. It was truly a beautiful sight to see.
The band powered through their eighteen song set with a sense of fury and love. Even when the band came back out for their one song encore, the crowd seemed to be left wanting more. With eight albums that span their eighteen year career, there was no way the band could play everything that the crowd wanted to hear but they truly seemed to do their best.
Was I one of those people that was screaming along to every word of Rise Against’s set? No. Would I call myself a huge fan of the band? No. Would I say that last night’s show affected me in a way that not many shows can? Yes. It doesn’t matter if you’re a die-hard fan of a band or not. Get out and go to a show. They can make you feel something you didn’t see coming and it can be the best feeling in the world.
Venue: Skyway Theatre
Sausage Fest Meter- 7 out of 10
Average Age of the Crowd- 12
Crowd Surfers- Lost Count
Stage Divers- 0
Broken Bones- 0
Spotted Flying Through The Air- Bodies
Drunkards Taken Out By Security- 1
Celebrity Sightings- None
Overall Score- 6 out of 10
Show on Deck- Open Mike Eagle/ Sammus