Rise Against soar at HOB with Bad Religion

A review of Rise Against with Bad Religion at the House of Blues on April 30, 2011

, Contributing Writer

Touring with their heroes Bad Religion, punk rockers Rise Against hit Boston this past weekend for a pair of sold-out shows at the House of Blues in support of their brand new album, Endgame.  Closing out the two-night stand on Saturday, Rise Against had the place in a frenzy, giving the capacity crowd exactly what they wanted.

Following an impressive set from punk stalwarts Bad Religion, Rise Against hit the stage and swiftly launched into a non-stop barrage of music, getting 10-12 songs in before taking more than few seconds to catch their breath. Punk shows are often identified by the pit, but at a truly great show, the pit becomes indistinguishable from the jumping/dancing mass of the crowd, which was the case on Saturday. There is a cathartic release in Rise Against’s delivery; its music to pump your fist and sing-a-long to during the chorus. There may be less of a Punk edge, but what’s lost in the intensity of anger is gained back in the intensity of a collective spirit. As lead singer Tim McIlrath questioned, “what do you do if someone falls down?”, the crowd screamed the crowd in return, “You pick them back up!”

Rise Against played a set that saw them trying to fit in as much as possible. Covering hits such as “The Good Left Undone” and “Savior” early on, they then spent much of the rest of the night sinking into deep-cut territory. With relatively few instrumental frills, the continuous slew of economical and efficient punk is both their biggest strength and their weakness. Knowing this, they broke the set up in the middle for a brief acoustic reprieve. After a tender version of  their latest single “Help is on the Way,” the band rejoined McIlrath for a stirring rendition of the power-ballad “Swing Life Away.”

They closed the night out with performances of a band favorite “Hero of War,” which McIlrath dedicated to the soldiers overseas, and a crowd favorite, “Torches,” yet another of the older songs they played during the course of the evening. By the end of the hour and a half set, they’d certainly left the crowd pleased and given them what they’d come for.

Bad Religion’s set proved why they are still touring and releasing music three decades into their career. Greg Graffin’s intimate cry, like a softer and less raspy Mike Ness, was on point as he commanded the stage with his formidable size. The band blew through a setlist that ranged from classic favorites like “Fuck Armageddon…This is Hell,” to newer songs like “Los Angeles is Burning” and “Sorrow”. A little more focused on classic rock and heavy metal than their punk contemporaries, Bad Religion have always worked well with large crowds. Their set was high on energy and by the time they left the stage, the already rowdy crowd was on edge and ready to explode.

Early arrivals were treated to a set from Worcester’s Four Year Strong.

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