Smile Politely

Coming to C-U: Three badass bands for the price of one

7:30 p.m. | May 8 | Assembly Hall

Endgame Cover ArtFormed in 1999 in Chicago, Rise Against has released six studio albums, the latest of which, Endgame, came out March 15, 2011.

Like their prior LP (Appeal to Reason), Endgame has been reviewed as sounding closer to the “mainstream,” whatever that might be defined as. True, the sound is more melodic punk than the earlier LPs, Siren Song of the Counter Culture and The Sufferer & the Witness, which reflected the obvious influence of Bad Religion, Black Flag, and Face to Face. This latest LP, along with Appeal to Reason, was described by Entertainment Weekly as full of “protest anthems that lean closer to the burnished angst of such bands as New Found Glory and Fall Out Boy than the genuine outrage of brainy Green Day.” Personally, I’m a little appalled about Rise Against being compared to Green Day (Antiflag, Against Me!, perhaps?), but to each his own.

For this concert, we can assume that there will be plenty from their latest LP, which at this point has had about two months of airplay, particularly the (forgettable) radio single, “Help is on the Way.” There will probably also be the songs people recognize from Rock Band, including “Prayer of the Refugee,” “Savior,” “Re-Education (Through Labor)” and “Give It All.”

Rise Against has never shied away from political lyrics and activism, and the lead singer, Tim Mcllrath, even appeared at Wisconsin’s rally for the workers.

The band specifically addresses homophobia in Endgame in the song, “Make it Stop (September’s Children),” with lyrics such as “And too much blood has flown from the wrist/ Of children shamed for those they chose to kiss.” They are all vegetarian, and consistently promote animal rights, and even released a “vegan shoe” through Vans in 2007.

Bad Religion

Considering how they have tipped their hats towards Bad Religion as an influence in the past, it must be pretty exciting for Rise Against to have them as an opener. Bad Religion has been busy lately, releasing The Dissent of Man (September 28, 2010) and celebrating thirty years as a group with a live CD, entitled 30 Years Live, that they released for free on their website. Expect them to play quite a few songs from their new CD, while still hitting up all their well-known songs, including “American Jesus,” “No Control, ” “Sorrow,” and “21st Century (Digital Boy).” I saw them at Riot Fest in Chicago last October, and they’re definitely still rocking out hard.

Rise AgainstOn the topic of the tour so far, while Rise Against seems to be shining, the most frequent critique has been that Bad Religion doesn’t get enough stage time. Expect Four Year Strong (the opener) to be about 20 to 30 minutes max, followed by Bad Religion for about 45 minutes, and Rise Against for the remainder. I know, Bad Religion has been around longer and has such a large following that it seems a bit odd for them to be an opener at this point, but I’m hoping it will be badass nonetheless. Be prepared for loud, and if you’re up front, watch out, it’ll probably be pretty crazy.

Side note: Not that this has anything to do with Four Year Strong, Rise Against, or Bad Religion (particularly), but along with Dissent of Man and a 30 Years Live CD (last May), lead singer, Greg Graffin, released a book entitled Anarchy Evolution. The book is a fantastic mix of reminiscing about old shows, getting involved in the punk scene, his views on faith vs. atheism, and his academic history (he has a Ph.D. in Zoology and teaches evolution at UCLA).

Tickets are still available (buy them here or at the Assembly Hall Box Office. Online is $38.95 currently). Why are there still tickets available? Well, within the week of the concert here, they’re following up with a show around St. Louis and two shows in Chicago. I’m not quite sure why they’re going from us to St. Louis to Chicago, but let’s enjoy it while we can!

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