Rise Against / Alkaline Trio / Thrice - live in New York [first night] (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

Rise Against / Alkaline Trio / Thrice

live in New York [first night] (2008)

live show

After Rise Against released Revolutions Per Minute in 2003, they found themselves at a crossroads. They were to bound to go one of two ways: become a cult favorite in melodic hardcore over the years, putting out mostly consistent albums on independent labels all the way; or sign to a major label while retaining some punk roots and achieve moderate commercial success with fluctuating results in musical achievement. Obviously, Rise Against chose the latter.

Nonetheless, bringing out Alkaline Trio, Thrice and the Gaslight Anthem made for a show that was hard to miss -- regardless of a venue's 3500-person capacity, ample barricade space and high merch prices thanks to the venue taking a cut in those sales.

The Gaslight Anthem was perfect. Well, "Miles Davis & the Cool" would've made for an absolutely splendid midpoint in the set list, but you couldn't complain. The band played their great songs in casual form, never missing a beat and hitting up most of the standouts from both full-lengths. They definitely had less talk and more rock in mind for their half-hour slot. This essentially being the hometown stop for Jersey's finest, they had plenty in the crowd singing along heartily. It's rare you see the first openers get any reception at all of bigger shows like this, so it was pleasing to see them embraced so warmly (even though it was by members of their own fanbase).

Set list:

  1. Great Expectations
  2. Wooderson
  3. The '59 Sound
  4. Old White Lincoln
  5. We Came to Dance
  6. Meet Me by the River's Edge
  7. I Coulda Been a Contender
  8. The Backseat
Thrice gets the runner-up award. I've probably seen them in better circumstances, but they played extremely well, basically providing a condensed version of the set list they had on the tour with Circa Survive and Pelican. They took some selections from all four Alchemy Index EPs, as well as a couple from Vheissu and The Artist in the Ambulance and even "Betrayal Is a Symptom" off The Illusion of Safety. The pits had suddenly started in full force, but they were somewhat reasonable; most people tended to respect the invisible, outlying border of the circle, even as the band unleashed the devastating riffs of bottom-heavy roars like "Firebreather" and mammoth closer "The Earth Will Shake." Pit participants paused to replicate the foot stomping from the latter song with their own stomps, which was amusing and fitting. Oh, and they threw in a very aptly performed "Helter Skelter," originally by the Beatles, well-received at that.

Set list:
  1. Firebreather
  2. The Melting Point of Wax
  3. Blood Clots and Black Holes
  4. Music Box
  5. The Sky Is Falling
  6. The Messenger
  7. Helter Skelter (The Beatles cover) [may be out of order]
  8. Broken Lungs
  9. Betrayal Is a Symptom
  10. The Earth Will Shake
Alkaline Trio...eh. They were decent enough, but several factors didn't help: the sound kept cutting out of the guitars, or making it sound muffled and irritating; during the first few and last few songs of the set, a small portion of the crowd was incredibly inconsiderate and annoying enough to ruin it for many; I haven't quite warmed up to their new album yet, so numbers like "Calling All Skeletons," "In Vein" and "Help Me" still sound a bit cheesy (maybe because they are?); and the band was a little sloppy at points and missing the occasional note, though they certainly didn't look inebriated. Having them open with "Private Eye" and throw in "I Lied My Face Off" and "Crawl" was cool, though. However, for the Tuesday show the next day, they apparently played "Warbrain" and "Radio," according to this guy with a creepily similar name to mine. I'd probably have preferred the latter two for ANYTHING from this set. I mean, not at all a terrible set by the Trio, but fairly disappointing considering I haven't seen them in over five years.

Set list:
  1. Private Eye
  2. Calling All Skeletons
  3. I Lied My Face Off
  4. I Found Away
  5. In Vein
  6. Goodbye Forever
  7. Over and Out
  8. Crawl
  9. Help Me
  10. This Could Be Love
I could essentially say the same about Rise Against, but it's hard to deny they put a lot of effort into putting on a great performance. Without a guitar to keep him stationed in one place, Tim McIlrath was all over the place for the first few songs, storming across both the stage and barricade space for raucous sing-alongs for "Give It All" and the thankfully played "State of the Union." And when he was in place, there was enough energy from everyone else to make up for it. Granted, they had to put on their rock star personas every now and then -- "PUT YOUR FISTS IN THE AIR, NEW YORK CITY!" Etc.

Lou Koller came out for some guest vocals on one song. "Who's Sick of It All?" asked a girl in her mid-20s to her boyfriend. Later I overheard them making fun of Rise Against during "Stained Glass and Marble": "Rarrrr! Metal songssss!"

What could've been acknowledged as an encore occurred when the entire band walked off stage, with Tim and Zach Blair returning to play "Hero of War" from the latest deal, Appeal to Reason. Say what you will about the song musically, but at least it crawls further from sounding like a Staind song (as the band was getting dangerously close to that territory with every passing ballad) and the lyrics are pretty vicious. Seeing people hold up lighters and cell phones to illuminate the area became uncomfortably weird when McIlrath sang, "They took off his clothes / They pissed in his hands / I told them to stop / But then I joined in."

He followed it right up with the megahit, "Swing Life Away," which I distinctly remember him saying he wrote about something (Chicago?). My point here is that he claimed he wrote it, failing to mention Neil Hennessy's contributions to it. C'mon dude, take that opportunity for a shoutout at least. Anyway, it was quite obviously the most well-received song, and the lighters made a little more sense this time around.

The set closed with "Prayer of the Refugee," a song I've heard far too many times thanks to Guitar Hero-loving friends.

According to the aforementioned Ryan Schultz, the band was joined by Fat Mike at one point and covered "Minor Threat" the second night. Another bummer. Chuck Ragan (the Blender Theatre, Monday, with Tim Barry and Ben Nichols), Alkaline Trio (here and the next night) and Dillinger Four (Brooklyn, Tuesday) need to sort something out where they quit playing New York City the same day or the next.

I have fond memories of seeing Rise Against on the Fat Tour in early 2003 at Long Island's now-defunct The Downtown (no barricade, three foot high stage, 450-cap). But hey, if this is the stuff that inspires widespread political activism (as well as magnanimous circle pits and near-constant pogo-ing), so be it.

Set list [somewhat in order]:
  • Drones
  • Chamber the Cartridge
  • Give It All
  • State of the Union
  • Ready to Fall
  • Injection
  • Re-Education Through Labor
  • Stained Glass and Marble
  • Behind Closed Doors
  • Life Less Frightening
  • Like the Angel
  • Collapse
  • Bricks
  • Broken English
  • The Good Left Undone
  • Hero of War (Tim and Zach Blair)
  • Swing Life Away (Tim solo)
  • Survive
  • Under the Knife
  • Prayer of the Refugee
[All set lists credited to this guy because I brought an inkless pen to the show.]