Possibly the best tour of 2008 arrived in New York City on October 13 and 14, the four punk-inspired acts selling out the 3500 capacity Roseland each night. I made it out to the second night, anticipating a show featuring four of my favorite bands.
The Gaslight Anthem opened the evening with “Great Expectations”. Sounding as tight as the previous times I’ve seen them, they played for about thirty minutes, tossing in older songs in addition to new standards like The ’59 Sound‘s title track and “Say I Won’t (Recognize)”. On any other tour their performance likely would have stolen the show, but the young blue-collar punks were opening for some of the scene’s most talented veterans.
These veterans include Southern California’s Thrice, a band that has been redefining their sound for the last decade. The band opened with “The Messenger” from The Alchemy Index Vols. I + II, a hard-hitting track that set the tone for their set. Playing a fairly mixed set of cuts from as early as 2002 (“Deadbolt”), the band outshined The Gaslight Anthem’s incredible performance, even including a cover of The Beatles’ “Helter Skelter”. Songs such as “The Melting Point of Wax”, “The Artist in the Ambulance”, “Motion Isn’t Meaning”, “Of Dust and Nations”, and “Firebreather” found their way into the night as well before the band closed with a pummeling performance of Vheissu‘s “The Earth Will Shake”.
Chicago dark-punk stalwarts Alkaline Trio took the stage next. In comparison to The Gaslight Anthem and Thrice, the band sounded flat and uninviting, despite playing for nearly an hour. The first two bands seemed to lure the entire audience (fans and newcomers alike) into their sound, but Alkaline Trio seemed to only excite diehards. Their newer material is less edgy, and songs like “Calling All Skeletons” just don’t do the band justice in a live setting. A combination of sloppy renditions of great songs (“Radio”) and playing after two great bands marred what could have been an otherwise strong outting.
In no uncertain terms did Rise Against make a case for why they should be headlining a tour of this magnitude. Their set spanned much of the band’s existence, moving from loud and inciting (“State of the Union”) to calm and reflective (the well-crafted and beautiful “Swing Life Away”). The latter is largely responsible for their huge fan base–and rightfully so. Rise Against thrives on writing hook-laced singles that are great live songs (“Prayer of the Refugee”, “Ready To Fall”, “Re-Education (Through Labor)”).
Perhaps the band’s essence was summed up while covering Minor Threat’s “Minor Threat”, during which the band was joined by NOFX’s Fat Mike. The song combined the band’s primal influences with the man responsible for signing the band to their first record deal. All of this as part of a second encore, illustrating the band’s current status in 2008.
Rise Against never sounded so sure or so potent live, easily their best performance I’ve had a chance to experience. Vocalist Tim McIlrath’s sincere vocals demand the audience’s attention, and singalongs are never more than a verse away. Laying down for no man or government, the band pulls no punches and continues to demonstrate that a superior live show starts with great songs and ends with honest energy.
ATTENTION: inTuneMusic was unable to acquire any setlists from this incredible evening. If you know the songs in order of any of the bands from this evening please post them in the replies and the article will be updated! Thank you!