Rise Against at T.T. the Bear's, October 7, 2008
Of all the bands called “Against” something or “Anti” whatever that I got into when I was 19, Chicago’s Rise Against made the smoothest transition from VFW halls to mainstream radio. Their proto-screamo calls-to-socially-conscious-arms put the whammy on the frat-punk contingent. Also, it’s hard to accuse them of selling out when they’re charging a can of food for admission to a “secret” show at a 250-capacity club, as was the case at T.T’s a week ago Tuesday. (The non-perishables went to the Greater Boston Food Bank.)
RISE AGAINST: No slow songs.
Canned soup alone would not guarantee entry — those without press credentials had to show at 1 pm to snag a wristband for the 9 pm show. The singularity of the experience would validate the hassle. Last time I saw Rise Against, it was at Avalon with, like, thousands of people. Opportunities to see them in more intimate settings are scant these days. Pre-show, I engaged in some boastful text-messaging: “I’m about to see Rise Against in a fucking club.” “I’m not too sure who they are.” “They did that swing life away song and also many better songs.”
“Swing Life Away,” their Billboard “Modern Rock” chart hit acoustic ballad from 2005, didn’t make the set list. A cover of “Minor Threat” did, along with the explosive opening tracks from their three most recent albums; that included “Collapse (Post-Amerika)” from Appeal to Reason (Interscope), which dropped that very day. No slow songs made for unswerving uproariousness, and that was just spiffy. I half-expected Rise Against to play their obligatory hits for 20 minutes and say “goodnight”; instead, they tore it up for well over an hour, doing a rousing version of “Happy Birthday” for drummer Brendan Barnes’s daughter, who’s somewhere in Chicago. Chalk it up to proximity, perhaps, but singer Tim McIlrath’s eyes bulged out of their sockets like never before, and I swear there were veins popping out of guitarist Zach Blair’s hairless skull. Fuse poster boys they may be, but Rise Against aren’t too proud to revel in a room full of people screaming their lyrics back at them and pogoing so hard the floorboards rattle.
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