Rise Against

support Sleeping With Sirens + PEARS
author PP date 29/10/17 venue Store Vega, Copenhagen, DEN

It's been a while since I've been this excited for a Rise Against show. Having seen the band play a fuck ton of shows since the release of "Siren Song Of The Counter Culture" in 2004 in venues big and small, my anticipation during the last few years has mostly been characterized by apathy due to the more mainstream nature of their songwriting on the past few albums. But "Wolves", their eighth album that was released this summer, is a return to form and their best record in more than a decade, so naturally, a sense of newfound excitement is to be expected. No strangers to Store Vega, where the band has played a couple of epic concerts in the past, the show tonight is nearly sold out, no doubt in part due to awesome supporting cast: PEARS and Sleeping With Sirens.

PEARS

PEARS

PEARS burst into the knowledge of the punk rock scene in 2014 with their excellent, if somewhat schizophrenic debut album "Go To Prison". The critically acclaimed record was notable for its erratic shifts from hardcore punk to skate punk and even pop punk in places, all while maintaining a lightning speed tempo throughout. That same chaotic approach is perfectly on display tonight, particularly in the demeanor of vocalist Zach Quinn, whose movement and appearance on stage approaches lunacy. When he's not busy staring down the crowd like a madman, he's stomping across the stage like a gorilla, showing off aggressive but funky dance moves, or chaotically swinging and waving around his mic stand in what looks dangerous to his colleagues.

PEARS

In the meantime, the band isn't much saner themselves. First off, they come onto the stage to the tune of weird circus style introductory music, and secondly, the instrumentals sound absolutely ferocious in their rapid-fire hardcore punk that suddenly changes into pop melody and catchy choruses with little warning. The frantic hand movements of Quinn ensure the crowd is spellbound to his behaviour, though it seems like songs like "Sycophant", "Breakfast", "Great Mt. Ida" and even the title track "Green Star" from their equally excellent second album go way over the head of the crowd expecting big sing-along songs akin to what Rise Against have been producing for the better part of the last decade and a half. The performance is vicious and full of explosive energy and coupled with fantastic sound the band better their miserable Groezrock performance by a huge margin tonight.

Sleeping With Sirens

Sleeping With Sirens is a weird choice for a Rise Against support band. Though their music is high in energy and relatively fast, it doesn't exactly have anything at all to do with punk. Instead, the band channels classic emo/post-hardcore as if it was mid-2000s again. Think Saosin, Hawthorne Heights and the like. As such, their set is jammed with clean/scream dynamics, high pitched croons and wails by a vocalist that sings at such a high range you could mistake him for being a girl, breakdowns and all the rage. Surprisingly, the approach works rather well tonight, thanks to an explosive performance by the whole band. Vocalist Kellin Quinn keeps tossing his mic high up in the air, receiving plenty of screeching screams by the young girls up front, and during "Empire To Ashes", the whole band is dancing around the stage in a high energy fashion. "Woooh...ooh oh-oh, help me out Copenhagen", Quinn asks us before "Do It Now, Remember It Later", skillfully introducing the crowd to a catchy bit in the song that sounds all the better as a result.

Sleeping With Sirens

The upbeat nature of the music is what makes it work, despite the ultra poppy material off their latest album "Gossip". "Legends", for instance, sounds like something you'd listen to in a club rather than a punk rock show, but even so, it catches onto the crowd really well. Likewise, the vocal solo parts during "If You Can't Hang" have the front rows screaming in a high pitch, albeit nowhere near the range of Quinn on "Kick Me", for instance. You can say a lot about the whiny emo vocals, but energy-wise, Sleeping With Sirens deliver a dominant performance tonight worthy of a headliner slot of its own.

Setlist:

  • 1. Tally It Up: Settle the Score
  • 2. Empire to Ashes
  • 3. We Like It Loud
  • 4. Congratulations
  • 5. Do It Now, Remember It Later
  • 6. Here We Go
  • 7. Legends
  • 8. Better Off Dead
  • 9. If You Can't Hang
  • 10. Kick Me

Rise Against

RISE...RISE...RISE, the familiar chant encompasses the nearly sold out Store Vega as the band prepare to enter the stage to the tune of introductory riffs off "Chamber The Cartridge" off their best album "The Sufferer And The Witness". This record is the perfect balance between their raw political punk rock and mainstream appealing anthems, and they're about to play a whole bunch of songs off this record based on previous setlists. Singer Tim McIlrath brings out the megaphone straight away for added effect here, so things bode well, especially after the venue erupts into a mass sing-along and the floor converts into a trampoline for the punk rock classic "Give It All" moments later.

Rise Against

As mentioned earlier, "Wolves" is an awesome album and the crowd seems to agree, based on their sing-along reaction for "The Violence" right after. If anything, the record and its songs showcase a revitalized version of the band, so we'll no doubt be seeing many more tracks from the record aired live going forward. Tonight, we're only treated to "House On Fire" and the title track in addition, but the band could've easily played "Bullshit", "Parts Per Million" or "Mourning In America" instead of, say, "People Live Here" or "Help Is On The Way" for my sake.

"To the sound of a heartbeat pounding awayyyy" echoes across the venue as people join McIlrath in unison for "Re-Education (Through Labor)" for a community sing-along segment. Speaking of community feeling, McIlrath spends a bit of time talking about that punk rock shows like these ones are a community, a sanctuary for those who choose to reject what the outside world thinks, before also mentioning Chester Bennington and Chris Cornell as examples of what can happen if you don't seek help.

Rise Against

"Collapse (Post-Amerika)" is dedicated to the Louisiana-based PEARS, who we are told have experienced more than most as a result of their origins. The BP oil disaster, hurricanes, and climate change are just some of the major issues they've had to face, explains McIlrath in a speech that otherwise doesn't really seem to have a point other than having an obscure reference to climate change in general.

Mid-set is, as usual, dedicated to an acoustic segment. "Swing Life Away" has crowd basically singing the entire song for McIlrath, "Hero of War" likewise. The somewhat lackluster "People Live Here" off "The Black Market" doesn't really fit here as well, and I would've preferred "The Eco-Terrorist In Me" or "I Don't Want To Be Here Anymore" off that album instead.

Rise Against

As we tear through the sing-along of "Help Is On The Way" and the frantic tempo of "Bricks" off "The Sufferer And The Witness" two things become abundantly clear: this is a solid show overall, but also one that doesn't quite measure up to the passion and intensity of their past shows here in Copenhagen or those I've seen in London, really. Sure, there's a huge party on the floor for "Satellite", and title track "Wolves" has great reception off the new album after the "RISE...RISE...RISE!" encore chants, but it feels like another day in the office. I remember times when the band were ferociously explosive on stage and it felt like McIlrath was coming right at us during every line, bouncing high up on platforms and whatnot to make his point across. Nowadays they merely uphold their rock-solid consistency but without the awe and spirit of their best shows in the past. I'm sure the crowd will disagree, but then again they probably don't have ten shows worth of historical comparison like yours truly does.

Setlist:

  • 1. Chamber the Cartridge
  • 2. Give It All
  • 3. The Violence
  • 4. Re-Education (Through Labor)
  • 5. Dancing for Rain
  • 6. The Good Left Undone
  • 7. Collapse (Post-Amerika)
  • 8. House on Fire
  • 9. Prayer of the Refugee
  • 10. Swing Life Away
  • 11. People Live Here
  • 12. Hero of War
  • 13. Help Is on the Way
  • 14. Bricks
  • 15. Survive
  • 16. Make It Stop (September's Children)
  • 17. Satellite
  • --Encore--
  • 18. Wolves
  • 19. Savior

Photos by: Peter Troest

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