For some reason, the low ticket alerts I kept on seeing regarding the show on Wednesday night had me excited. I honestly don’t know why. Typically I get annoyed at sold-out shows just due to the problems it creates when it comes to moving around and getting to a good place to see but I was in the mood for something rowdy and intense. Seeing those low-ticket alerts made me optimistic that that was exactly what I was going to get.
Unfortunately, my friend and I were a bit late getting to the show and ended up missing the first part of Stick To Your Guns’ opening set but made it in time to catch just a couple of tracks from this powerful band. Definitely the heaviest band on the line-up with their hardcore influence reigning supreme throughout the speakers, STYG is one of those bands that knows exactly how to get a show started. There’s something about the energy of this California-bred band that makes you want to move even if you know nothing about them or their music and that’s exactly what my friend and I ended up walking into. Watching the audience respond to the heaviness and intensity of the music of STYG was exactly what I had been craving throughout the day. Well, that and their flawless presentation of their music.
I’ve always found it interesting when legendary bands open up for newer bands that constantly site said legendary band’s music as an influence on them. In my mind, those older acts deserve the headlining spot always but that was not the case on Wednesday and Pennywise followed STYG’s set with their distinct brand of punk rock that has paved the way for so many bands out there today. Outside of a line-up change fairly early in their career (RIP Jason Thirsk), this band has not changed at all over the years and I find such a sense of comfort in that. Even though the punk scene has changed so drastically over the years, Pennywise’s sound and overall message have stayed constant, and getting to see that presented on a stage right in front of me will never get old.
Pennywise’s set was much shorter than I had anticipated at only twelve songs but they were able to condense their twelve album career into a perfectly curated twelve-song set somehow. Although I loved hearing everything they played, hearing “Fuck Authority” was my favorite moment of their set. I remember stumbling across this track back in the day on an old “Punk-O-Rama” compilation that came complete with a DVD of all of the music venues. My brother and I would watch the videos on repeat and I remember “Fuck Authority” sticking out to me for some reason. Although the track dates back to 2001, the relevancy of the track these days is staggering and was a stand-out moment from their set with the way the majority of the audience was screaming along to the powerful words. As Pennywise ended their set with “Bro Hymn”, I was definitely a bit bummed but was super optimistic about what was to come from the headlining act.
Full disclosure- I am not a huge Rise Against fan. I appreciate vocalist Tim McIlrath’s distinct voice but fear that after about a song or two of it, I get annoyed by the sound and have to move on. So why do I keep going back to see this band you may ask? Rise Against has a cult following. There’s something about this band that has many people living and breathing their music and seeing that play out at a live show is the kind of thing I live for. Also, even though their music may not be 100% for me, their live show is. I have never been disappointed by the amount of power this Chicago-based band brings to the table and whether I love the music or not, that alone is more than enough to keep me coming back for more every chance that I get.
From the second they kicked their seventeen song set off with “Prayer of the Refugee” and all the way until the final note of “Savior” was left hanging in the air, I got exactly what I wanted from the night. Every song performed came with an undeniable sense of passion and energy that radiated off the stage and was mirrored by the fury of activity in the audience. From people just standing around and singing their hearts out to the sweaty mess of a pit front and center in the audience, the amount of pure energy and admiration was beyond perfect. Although I really have no emotional attachment to Rise Against like so many other people in attendance on Wednesday night, I felt the power that this band has on their fans and it had me pondering going so far as to buy a shirt. I spend so many nights of my life having the honor of seeing bands that have saved my life on multiple occasions. It’s truly nice to go to a show and see that effect play out on other people.
Overall, Rise Against’s set was flawless. Their distinct sound spread throughout the packed venue in a perfect way. From songs I recognized just from having seen Rise Against multiple times now to songs that I don’t think I’ve ever heard, Rise Against and their audience easily had me captivated throughout the night.
Venue: Skyway Theatre
Smell-O-Meter: Good ol’ BO
Average Age of the Crowd: 26
Crowd Surfers- 19 Counted But There Could Have Been More
Mosh-ability- 8 out of 10
Sausage-Fest Meter- 8 out of 10
Stage Divers- 0
Amount of Beer Spilled On Me While Walking Around- $0
Broken Bones- None Noticed
Spotted Flying Through The Air- Bodies and Drinks
Fights- None Noticed
Pukers- None Noticed
Idiots Taken Out By Security- None
How Many Times I’ve Seen These Bands Before (or at least how many times I can remember)-
Stick to Your Guns – 4
Pennywise – 3
Rise Against – 9
Celebrity Sightings – None
Overall Score- 8.8 out of 10
Show on Deck- Olivia Rodrigo / Gracie Abrams
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