Rise Against was formed under the name Transistor Revolt in 1999 in Chicago, Illinois, and changed its name to Rise Against in 2001 for the debut album. In addition to its seven albums of melodic hardcore punk music, Rise Against is also known for its advocacy of progressive issues, supporting organizations including Amnesty International, Punkvoter and the It Gets Better Project. Three of the four musicians are straight edge, and all are PETA supporters and vegetarians. Rise Against's current line-up comprises vocalist/rhythm guitarist Tim McIlrath, lead guitarist Zach Blair, bassist Joe Principe and drummer Brandon Barnes. The band's most recent album, The Black Market, was released on June 24, 2014.
Rise Against tonight performed only two songs from its latest album at SummerStage Central Park's Rumsey Playfield. The remaining 16 songs were from five of the band's earlier albums (the debut album, 2001's The Unraveling, was ignored). Opening the show in early evening daylight on one of the hottest days of the summer, the band appropriately launched into "The Great Die-Off," and the crowd surfing commenced. Springing from raw and intense punk roots, each song seemed like a chant, and much of the audience responded by pumping fists in the air. McIlrath's forceful vocal style was rallying, Blair's swirling lead guitar work sounded raw and muscular, and the rhythm section pounded madly. It was coarse and yet masterfully calculated for maximum thrills. Early in the show, while sunlight still revealed the potentially dangerous crush within the audience, McIlrath paused the show and asked everyone to take three steps back. He paused more extensively when he saw what looked like someone who was sick or injured and needed assistance; after the person was escorted out of the crowd by security, the concert resumed with McIlrath exhorting the fans to care for one another. Just a bit over an hour after it began, Rise Against ended the main set with McIlrath and Blair on an acoustic "Hero of War" and McIlrath alone on "Swing Life Away" before the full band returned for two more rocking encores, "Dancing for Rain" and "Savior." Early fans have lamented that Rise Against has withdrawn from its hardcore infancy for a more mainstream sound; this evolution was evident tonight, but the result was that Rise Against married the best of both worlds.
Visit Rise Against at www.riseagainst.com.