Friday, April 15, 2011

Bad Religion/Rise Against

It was a sold out crowd at the Long Beach Arena where we were all treated to a genuine arena rock concert. This would mark my first time seeing The Descendents, Bad Religion and Rise Against in concert. I wasn’t disappointed.

All three sets were fast-paced and high energy, complete with crowd surfing and several mosh pits that were fun to watch from the balcony seating. It was like little moving crop circles running clockwise in the crowd. Maybe one of these days, I’ll be brave enough to try it, but in the meantime, I was quite content with my nosebleed seats.

After The Descendents opened the show, punk rock legends Bad Religion set the stage ablaze with their energetic and dynamic set. Playing many of their classic hits and fan favorites, including “Infected” and “Sorrow,” it’s hard to believe that they’ve been doing this for 30 years. They haven’t slowed down at all and had just as much endurance and gusto and twice the stage presence as any fledgling band that has only been touring for a couple years. They also performed “The Resist Stance” and “Cyanide,” newer tunes off of their most recent album, “The Dissent of Man.”

The only problem I had with Bad Religion’s 12-song set had nothing to do with the band itself, but the three people in front of me who spent the entire set on their cell phones texting and Facebooking. All three of them…the whole time. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: get off your phones and enjoy the music, people! Who wants to be distracted by an incoming text when you’ve got great live music to stimulate you? It takes away from the full experience, so do yourselves a favor and either leave your phones in the car or just use them to snap a few pictures to commemorate the show and then put them away and enjoy the concert.

Vent over. Now back to the show.

When the main act of the night, Rise Against, came out on stage, the crowd went nuts and more moshing commenced immediately. Playing hits like “The Good Left Undone” and “Prayer of the Refugee” off their 2006 album, “The Sufferer and the Witness,” they had the entire crowd fist pumping, head banging and singing along. One particular song that got me out of my seat and dancing around was my personal favorite, “Audience of One.”

Lead singer Tim McIlrath’s vocals were a little lost at times amongst the over-powering guitar levels, but once the kinks were worked out, he sounded great and his voice filled the entire venue.

Touring in support of their brand new album, “Endgame,” they didn’t stray from performing songs off that album, including their current hit single, “Help Is On the Way,” a song whose video is inspired by and depicts the aftermath of hurricane Katrina. Being known as an activist band, Rise Against strongly advocates causes like animal rights, environmental issues, and even fighting against the bullying of gay teens and the onslaught of gay teen suicides last year, which they so passionately sing about in “Make It Stop (September’s Children).” As Tim McIlrath sang, “And too much blood has flown from the wrists of the children shamed for those they chose to kiss. Who will rise to stop the blood?” I thought about how great it is to see a band that stands for something and believes in the word they’re singing, especially when they do so while entertaining a crowd of thousands.

Their sixth studio album, “Endgame,” is available now. If you’re a fan of pure, pulsating rock combined with socially conscious and prevalent lyrics, then you’ll love this album.

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