Seeing any band for the 6th time might take away from their live show, but not Rise Against, and definitely not if its at Mad Planet in Milwaukee. Mad Planet is a VERY small club that holds maybe 150 people at the most, so the bands are right on top of you, very intimate. Opening acts were a local band Invalid, followed by A Wilhelm Scream, and then Stretch Arm Strong.
The first band, Invalid, was awful, it looked like it was their first time ever playing live. A 4-piece band that played very boring music, and didn't seem to energized on stage. Except for their fat guitar player who tried to jump and move around but ended up looking like a gazelle prancing around.
I wasn't a fan of A Wilhem Scream before the night, but I left the club a big fan. Never have hearing their material before I was hoping they would be better than Invalid. They proved to be a 100% improvement. Coming out of Boston, these 5 guys sure put on a show. They kind of reminded me of Strike Anywhere, good melodic hardcore punk. They played for about 30 minutes, and after the show they stood outside and handed out 2 song samplers off their newest record.
I also have never heard Stretch Arm Strong's stuff before, so after A Wilhelm Scream I was hoping they would impress me just as much. Unfortunately, they didnt accomplish that. They were pretty good, but kept trying to coax the crowd into "moving closer" or "clap your hands". I can't stand when bands try to tell an audience what to do, if your music can't move someone to start a pit, or clap their hands, or jump up and down, it most likely isn't meant to do that, so don't tell us what you want to see. They played a mixture of older and newer stuff (the lead singer would mention if it was older or new), with the older stuff sounding more hardcore and the new stuff more melodic hardcore. They did do something cool at the end, they asked everyone to turn to their left and right and meet 2 new people, which I found pretty cool.
Rise Against then took the stage. Everyone soon ran forward, and got as close as possible. Out of the 5 times I previously saw them they have always opened with "Black Masks and Gasoline", I was hoping they would do something new, but they didn't. I was still extremely pumped when those first few chords were strung, and it lasted the rest of the set. Every song they played was super crisp, except "Voices Off Camera", which new guitarist Chris Chasse seemed to struggle with. They played a great mix of new songs off of "Siren Song of the Counter Culture" along with stuff from their first 2 albums. The only problem that I had was there wasnt enough new songs. This set list would have been great for their fall tour with Bad Religion, but this was their record release show, so more new songs would have been great.
Frontman Tim McIlrath shows why they will not get lost in the corporate mess of a major label. Ripping on "punk" bands for playing music for money, and ripping the Warped Tour for charging $5 for water in 110 degree weather proved they are in this for the right reasons. Great show from an amazing band.
Songs from the night:
THE UNRAVELING: The Unraveling, Alive and Well, 6 Ways Til Sunday
REVOLUTIONS PER MINUTE: Black Masks & Gasoline, Heaven Knows, Dead Ringer, Like the Angel, Voices Off Camera, Blood Red White and Blue, Broken English, Last Chance Blueprint
SIREN SONG OF THE COUNTER CULTURE: State of the Union, Life Less Frightning, Anywhere But Here, Give it All, Dancing for Rain, Swing Life Away