LV Life Editor
There is a point during every band’s career where its increasing popularity can quickly become a noose, waiting to tighten at the first sign of a mistake.
Chicago-based punk rock band Rise Against surely faced such pressure on April 7 at the Long Beach Arena, but managed to pull off an authentic punk rock performance that proved some things do get better with age.
Rise Against shared the stage with Four Year Strong and two of its greatest influences, the Descendents and Bad Religion.
The sold-out show, which was the band’s largest headlining show to date, was riddled with sound problems and the pressure to impress the hard core fans of their idols who had previously taken the stage.
“It’s great to be here celebrating the rise of Rise Against,” Bad Religion vocalist Greg Graffin said to the crowd.
The arena erupted in cheers when singer Tim McIlrath, bassist Joe Principe, guitarist Zach Blair and drummer Brandon Barnes took the stage and launched energetically into their set.
The band played several songs from its recently released sixth studio album, “Endgame,” including the single “Help Is On The Way,” “Satellite,” and the poetically angry “Make It Stop (September’s Children),” a song about homosexual bullying and the teenagers who committed suicide as a result last fall.
The band’s choice to sing about political and societal issues has previously drawn criticism, but the fans packed into the arena proved otherwise.
The crowd sang along passionately with McIlrath during “Make It Stop (September’s Children)” as he screamed “too much blood has flown from the wrists of the children shamed for those they chose to kiss.”
Rise Against also played several radio hits and crowd favorites from previous albums, including “Survive,” “Ready To Fall” and “Prayer of the Refugee.”
The band then slowed things down with “Audience Of One” and acoustic songs “Swing Life Away” and “Hero of War,” during which the audience pulled out lighters and cell phones and swayed back and forth as they sang along.
Throughout their set, the band battled with sound problems.
It was evident that the volume of the microphones and guitars were being messed with, but the band played with a confidence and passion that made technical problems irrelevant.
McIlrath, whose vocals sounded strained and tired during the band’s performance at KROQ’s Epicenter Festival in late September, were on point.
Despite the problems with the sound equipment, the band collectively sounded as impressive live as it does on their new album.
Rise Against encored with an old favorite “Give It All,” before which McIlrath thanked the crowd for their support and dedicated the song to them for giving it their all.
Though legendary bands like Bad Religion and the Descendents have a large enough following to headline their own shows, they made it clear that they were there to support Rise Against.
Bad Religion, which recently celebrated its 30th anniversary as a band, performed songs from its latest album, “The Dissent of Man,” including “The Resist Stance,” “Cyanide” and “Meeting Of The Minds.”
Although they did not play much of their early music, the band did play hits like “Sorrow,” “American Jesus” and “New Dark Ages.”
The band jumped around the stage and played with intense passion that has not faded with time.
The Descendents, who were special guests to the show, pleased longtime fans and newcomers alike with their 40-minute set.
The band played fan favorites like “Silly Girl,” “Coolidge” and “I’m Not A Loser.”
This concert seemed to channel everything punk rock represents.
The bands were not dressed in flashy attire, but rather jeans and t-shirts; they did not concern themselves with dramatic entrances, but rather jumped on stage and began to play.
There was a sense of camaraderie between the fans, even as they pushed against one another in the sweaty, writhing crowd.
Yet the strong sense of friendship did not stop there.
It was humbling to see the bands standing stage side and singing along as their friends played.
“We are lucky to have fans like you and bands like Bad Religion and the Descendents to play with us,” Rise Against vocalist Tim McIlrath told the audience.
This concert was not about surprises or flashy performances, but rather about fans and musicians coming together to enjoy music and celebrate the meaning in a rowdy, memorable fashion.
Lauren Creiman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.