Rise Against, Friends Rock The Halls, And Rattle Walls

The Rise Against/A Day To Remember/The Menzingers show at the UIC Pavilion was a party full of surprises. The venue, the UIC Pavilion , is generally used for the basketball season for their team the UIC Flames. Off-days, and off-season, the venue plays host to various conventions, boxing matches, and concerts like these. Like any basketball arena temporarily converted to a concert venue, the court becomes the “general admission area” where a few thousand people easily can pack themselves against each other over the excitement of seeing a performance by a group that they enjoy.  This show was certainly no different.

The Menzingers were new to me before this show, and I wondered why. They are definitely on my radar now.  The show began with a darken stage and the speech from the movie “Independence Day” that was given by the U.S. President (played by Bill Pullman) to the pilots before their last stand against the aliens.  For some reason I thought this was a cool way to open the night.  The Menzingers are a solid band, with a live sound that gets the crowd moving. Their set lasted around 30 minutes, and I was surprised when it was over; it felt like their show ended too quickly.  I wanted to hear more.

A Day To Remember uses the lights and colors of the stage to influence the mood and emotion of the songs they were performing, along with a smoke machine blowing huge geysers into the air during several of their songs. They really do genuinely seem to appreciate their fans, and audience participation is a big part of their show. This particular show included a bombardment of rolls of toilet paper into the crowd (best usage of tp, I dare say, since “Blue Man Group”), which were mostly thrown about until the rolls were emptied. Their metal/punk musical style is very wide-ranging, going from melodic to screamo at the snap of a finger.  Their music combined with their energetic movement on stage got fists pumping, and a couple of circle pits going at once.  The highlight of their performance saw their vocalist, Jeremy McKinnon, climbing into one of those giant inflatable balls like a hamster. He took a step out off the stage, running over the top of the crowd in the inflatable clear ball with the hands of the people acting as the “floor” he was walking and running on.  ADTR really got the audience going during their 45 minute or so set, and their singer Mckinnon informed the crowd that this was, by far, their biggest indoor show to date, and he let us know how proud he was of that.

During the next intermission, there was a drastic change in the stage. The drum kit was pushed back, and what looked like four large black rectangular blocks were put on stage.  A  grey carpet was rolled out. These 4 large rectangles turned out to be TV screens turned vertically, displaying various images of war before the headliners of the evening, Rise Against, took the stage. Their set did not disappoint. Their performances always have an energy that pulsates through the crowd.  They are masters at bringing the audience along on a roller-coaster ride of emotions.  It’s nothing for RA to have 10,000 people quiet in rapt attention one minute, and then they’ll rip through an anthem that will have thousands singing along in unison the very next minute.

The screens behind them featured scenes of protestors, wars, and teenagers talking to the camera provided the perfect backdrop for their song “Make It Stop (September’s Children)”.  The tune is a hard-hitting and loud stand against homophobia, and it played well to the very retro color schemes illuminating the stage. As a group with intense political and economic views, they convey their beliefs without coming off as overly-preachy, and pull off the feat of doing it while still keeping their catalog well-versed, their sales high, and asses filling seats. Their decade together has produced a total synergy together onstage:  Vocalist Tim McIlrath swung his corded microphone like a helicopter rotor with reckless abandon, and guitarist Zach Blair would duck effortlessly, almost mindlessly, when the microphone would come perilously swinging his way.

Acoustic renditions of “Audience of One”, and “Swing Life Away” were heartfelt and personal, with McIlrath the only one onstage.  Lighters filled the air (people still smoke in large numbers?) and mobile phones glowed throughout the auditorium (that makes much more sense).  Sadly, the night was marred to a degree at night’s end, though, fittingly, it provided RA the chance to demonstrate their principals:  The band put a halt to the show in the middle of their three song encore after someone went down hard in the pit.  The show was stopped to allow the victim to be taken out in a stretcher, with McIlrath saying “We need to see if everyone is OK before going on.”

As if anyone doubts that they are a band of the people.  As usual, Rise Against puts fans first.


Comicbookjockey is a guy with too many opinions, and too little time. He’s crass and articulate, always has on headphones, talks about nerdy stuff, and likes cleaning up after himself. Too see and hear more:

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