Three friends and I drove three and a half hours from Cleveland, Ohio to Pontiac, Michigan to witness, in my humble opinion, two of the absolute greatest live bands you could ever witness, Rise Against and The Suicide Machines at The Suicide Machines annual Christmas show at Clutch's Cargo in Pontiac.
Starting the night off was Few and Far Between, a Detroit four-piece with an indy-rock sound. Musically, the band was very talented and the guitars, bass, and drums meshed well with each other. However, my only qualm about the band was the vocalist/guitarist's voice. He had the same cookie-cutter, high-pitched voice that seems to be predominant in the current "emo"/pop-punk trend. When he did sing with some intensity I became a much bigger fan of their total sound. They had a good stage presence and the highlight of their set was when the bassist essentially told a group of "hardcore, Pontiac street punks" chanting "emo sucks" to more or less fuck off. Hilarity.
Rise Against was the next to take the stage. They arrived to the venue in the midst of Few and Far Between's set due to confusion among the distance from Chicago to Pontiac and that damn time zone change‚?¶anywho, their performance did not disappoint. Their sound levels were also perfect, with none of vocalist Tim's and bassist Joe's backing vocals being drowned out by the instruments, which can be a very frustrating thing for me personally. They opened their set with "Alive and Well" and closed it with "Six Ways ‚??Til Sunday", both off of their debut Fat Wreck Chords full-length "The Unraveling". Other songs, to the best of my recollection, included "My Life Inside Your Heart", "Reception Fades", "Everchanging" (all off of "The Unraveling"), "Generation Lost" (off of the new Fat Wreck comp "Uncontrollable Fatulance"), and approximately three or so songs off of their upcoming album "Revolutions Per Minute", due out April 8th. During "Generation Lost" and a few of the new songs, Tim strapped on a guitar and played rhythm, which was a nice touch to an already awesome sound. These guys tour almost incessantly, and should be hitting up areas of the US and Canada on the upcoming Fat Wreck Chords Tour with The Mad Caddies, so do yourself a favor and check them out. Honestly, my words cannot do this band enough justice to just how much intensity, excitement, and energy their live exerts.
After Rise Against, The Suicide Machines picked up right were those kooky Chicagoans left off. They opened their set with "S.O.S." and closed with "So Long", both off of "Destruction By Definition". Other songs included in their set were, again, to the best of my recollection: "New Girl", "Break The Glass", "No Face", "Islands", "Face Values", "Punk Out", "Vans Song" (all off of Destruction By Definition), "Someone", "Hating Hate", "DDT" (off of their second full-length Battle Hymns), "Permanent Holiday" (off of their self-titled effort, and also I think they only song played off of that album), "For The Day" (off of The Least Worst of The Suicide Machines and a Plea For Peace/Take Action! compilation), "Steal This Record", "Honor Among Thieves", and "Off The Cuff" (all off of their fourth album, Steal This Record). This was the first time I had seen The Suicide Machines with Rich on bass, filling the enormous shoes that former bassist Royce Nunley left upon his departure from the band, and I would have to say that he filled those shoes quite well and had a very admirable performance. It is blatantly obvious how much these guys enjoy playing: vocalist Jay was constantly jumping and bouncing around and throwing the mic into the crowd, guitarist Dan and Rich were spinning around and rocking out, and drummer Ryan, although behind the kit, also had a great presence. They were talking to the crowd and amongst themselves between songs and were having a great time. After their set, some of the members and Santa Claus came back out to "snow" falling from above and threw out presents to the crowd. Soon after, they played an encore of a Negative Approach cover. When they said they were playing a cover I was hoping for their Minor Threat cover of "I Don't Wanna Hear It", but their cover was a very nice consolation. The Suicide Machines don't have any other tour dates up on their website, so hopefully they're planning on recording soon for their Side One Dummy Records debut.
Rise Against and The Suicide Machines was more than worth the three and a half hour drive, and the merchandise I bought (including the Baxter CD) made the experience that much sweeter. But honestly, do yourself a favor and catch either Rise Against or The Suicide Machines if they come to within driving distance of your area, both bands are a show you'd have to see to believe.