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LIVE REVIEW: Bad Religion and Rise Against

RIMAC Crowd
RIMAC Crowd
Hannah Martine

Chilly winds and rain didn’t stop a sold out crowd from packing the RIMAC Arena on Friday, April 8, to see two of punk rock’s favorite bands: Bad Religion and Rise Against. While the RIMAC is not the ideal place for a concert of any type, the performers found a way to ignore the pennants lining the rafters and transport the crowd to a loud and rocking world.

Bad Religion took the stage after Four Year Strong played an opening set. Bad Religion, which formed in 1980, has been a band for more years than many of their fans at UCSD have been alive. However, the themes of teenage angst and social resistance transcend generations, and the younger fans sang along to “Sorrow.” The older fans, ones who were actually old enough to remember the release of Bad Religion’s self-titled first album in 1981, were equally into the set. However, the band hit it biggest with the old material. Off their newest album, The Dissent of Man, came the track “Cyanide,” which contains the refrain, “missin’ you is like kissin’ cyanide.” That’s a stretch for a passable lyric, and even more so when sung by an aging punk rocker with a receding hairline. However, the band rocked the stage hard and set a good vibe for Rise Against.

Five years ago, Rise Against opened for Bad Religion on a tour, and one has to wonder if Bad Religion ever saw the day coming when the roles would be reversed. Rise Against’s crossover into mainstream rock was evident by the positive reaction of the crowd to newer songs such as “Savior” and “Help is on the Way.” But the band left a lot of early fans disappointed by only playing a few songs from the older, harder, first three albums, including “Heaven Knows.” The band let the crowd have an oddly-timed breather during a few slow numbers about 30 minutes into the set. There was no ease into the slow songs, but instead it felt more like the plug was pulled just when RIMAC started buzzing with electricity. The slow set consisted of “Swing Life Away” and “Hero of War,” which was an interesting song choice for such a military-centered city.

The vibe from the crowd after “Hero of War” was conflicted; there were no huge cheers, but there was nothing negative, either. But soon lead singer Tim McIlrath was running around again in his skinny black jeans, singing more from their latest album Endgame, which debuted as No. 2 on the Top 40 albums earlier in April--the highest debut for the band yet.

The least desirable part of the show was the terrible sound--to be expected in an arena such as RIMAC. But the feedback was heavy, McIlrath’s mic volume was low, and there were multiple times that lead guitar player Zach Blair shouted over to the sound crew on the side of the stage to fix the monitors. However, the poor sound quality didn’t seem to affect the crowd’s mood.

It doesn’t matter if you’re a fan of the old or the new music from either band. When a crowd can get so lost in a sound that an onlooker can see the general admission pit visibly swell and recede with energy for the music, it’s incredible. The feeling of being 100 percent wrapped up in music, with a sold-out crowd shouting every word and raising their arms in a salute to punk rock -- and remembering the times that you also had felt that way about a band -- that’s what makes an entertaining show.