The last time I saw Rise Against was when they opened for Bad Religion, and the crowd wasn't as big as it probably should have been for such a tour. The last time I saw Alkaline Trio was just after From Here To Infirmary was released. The crowd wasn't that big at all. I guess for this show I vastly underestimated the collective popularity of these two bands, because when I drove by the Roseland in Portland, Oregon, the line was already moving and still wrapped around the block.
Unfortunately, my vast misconception of the number of bad haircuts I'd see at this show prompted me to completely miss Death By Stereo; by the time I had cleared the metal detectors (what the fuck is this country coming to?) and found my way to the floor, DBS was politely screaming goodbye and thanking the audience. I guess when they say 'doors open at 8' they really mean 'if you're not four hours early you'll miss the first band.' So, I apologize for not catching them; I would have liked to, but it took me by surprise.
The only thing bad about Rise Against was their set time was far too short. They only played one song ("My Life Inside Your Heart") from The Unraveling and favored the 'catchier' tunes ("Give It All", "Like The Angel") over songs that I think would be better in a live show ("Rumors Of My Demise...," "Blood Red, White, And Blue" for example). Nevertheless, the energy was high and consistent for the entire set; at times Tim seemed a bit dumbfounded at the quite astounding response; the entire floor was packed and pressing forward, singing along to the entire set. The major flaw in the set list was the awkward mid-placement of "Swing Life Away," which calmed the crowd into lighters and cell phones swaying back and forth, and subdued the response to the rest of the set, even with the band's obvious attempt to get the energy flowing again with "To The Core."
All said and done, Rise Against have come quite a way but their set list was harmed by the song choices and placement/pacing of the show. The rest of the crowd didn't seem to mind, though, as the response to the band was more than I ever thought possible.
Before I get to the Trio, I have to ponder why it takes this band so fucking long to set up. Every time I've ever seen them it's been at least a half hour. I don't know if Matt's busy putting on his makeup, but the drums and amps and banner were already assembled before the show even started, so it's not like anyone was on the stage doing anything. For close to 45 minutes the crowds shifted as most of the older (21+) folks retired to the balcony. I grabbed a seat, but when the 30-year-olds in front of me decided to be drunk and stand up in front of their seats, I figured I could just get a better view from the floor.
The Alkaline Trio have never astounded me live, but the times I've seen them I've enjoyed their catalogue to the extent of it not really mattering. However, I haven't seen them since the initial From Here To Infirmary tour, and I was hoping not to get an overload of Good Mourning and Crimson tracks, as they're not the best albums the band has ever put out. Fortunately, the Trio not only had a great set list, but they were more energetic and interactive than ever before. Skiba's rumored dropping of the coke habit paid off as he's much more of a frontman with a great stage presence, interacting with the crowd at all possible times and enjoying the hell out of playing.
The set was very well-rounded, a tad favoring Crimson, but that's to be expected. "My Little Needle," "Cringe," "Jaked On Green Beers," "Maybe I'll Catch Fire" and an absolutely extraordinary rendition of "Radio" were set highlights for old-timers, but the band put equal effort and energy into the new songs as well. There were some odd dedications ("Burn" being for followers of the Church of Satan and Suicide Girls), but the encore of "My Friend Peter" and "Sundials" topped off the best performance by this band I've ever seen.
Now the negative part of the show: the circle pit bro-hams. I get the fact jumping around into people is cool and all, I did it when I was younger too. But leaping unnecessarily into parts of the crowd just to see how many people you can knock over can really fuck up a good time (one girl got knocked out and had to be taken away). When you weigh over 200 pounds, it's not the best idea to try and jump on people's shoulders to crowd surf; it's just a matter of decency. I enjoyed the sets perfectly from my spot in the crowd and wasn't bruised or beaten or broken. What does it really say about you if you're a 21-year-old musclehead flailing about in a mosh pit that Hot Topic would be proud of at an Alkaline Trio show, anyway?