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Rise Against / Bad Religion: live in New Yorklive in New York (2011)
Reviewer Rating: 3.5
Contributed by: InaGreendaseBrian
(others by this writer | submit your own)
Four Year Strong were playing the final notes of their last song upon my group's arrival to New York City's Terminal 5 on this bipolar, cool/warm night. I assure you this was not that deliberate—the popcore giants, small potatoes on such a bill—played 10 minutes earlier than advertised.
Rage Against the Machine soundtracked the changeover, with the crowd singing in unison to hits like "Guerilla Radio" and "Killing in the Name". It felt appropro.
Rise Against have put out solid albums as they've blown up to near-rock star proportions their once-nascent fanbase probably never anticipated. I feel comfortable saying that much. But much of the material lacks a certain bite and thrill that interested me in the first place, and I thus felt expectedly out of place as the audience hollered along to hits like "Prayer of the Refugee" and "Re-Education (Through Labor)". It really seemed to speak to the band's current fanbase that when they played "The Dirt Whispered" (a relatively poppy endeavor for RA, even as they've geared towards marginally punk/hardcore-infused radio rock over the last few albums), a spectator could be overheard exclaiming, "This is like a punk song!"
"Heaven Knows" was the sole ambassador for the Fat Wreck Chords era, and it was received warmly (at least...by me). No matter what LP (or era) they touched upon, Tim McIlrath and co. had the crowd at practically every turn ("Ready to Fall" had a sloppy pre-chorus, but everything else was consistently huge and clearly well-rehearsed). It's clear he's taken notes from monumental punk frontmen in order to capture an audience interested most by mammoth, stadium rock aesthetics, non-stop flashing lights, and incessant invitations (to sing along; to cheer; to...participate in activism? Okay, maybe that's a new one). Even if dedicating "From Heads Unworthy" to PETA means receiving their approval in comparatively tepid measures.
Lighters and cell phones lit up for "Swing Life Away" when McIlrath had the stage to himself, but then came something I was looking forward to unfolding. With how outspoken McIlrath (and the rest of his band by association, really) is, I was curious to see how he'd approach the certain news item dominating the headlines that week: Osama bin Laden's death. Would he caution the mass "jockocracy" against blind patriotism? Or perhaps wonder aloud about the curious morbidity inherent in celebrating death?
Of course not. This is New York. McIlrath probably knew better than to incite full-scale hell by even remotely suggesting that something seemed off about the nation's interstate keg party, instead resigning, before the solo "Hero of War": "I think we've all earned the right this week as a nation to breathe a collective sigh of relief," with an addendum about bringing the troops home. The response was predictably raucous, "U-S-A!" cheers quickly following. I can't say I blame him for sticking to a safer script, really. Any more complex, thoughtful opining and he probably would have been next. Maybe the band would return to the tour bus to find their tires slashed in a mind-bogglingly ironic twist.
Set list (9:56-11:05):
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