Rise Against

support Architects + Touché Amoré
author PP date 05/03/12 venue Voxhall, Århus, DEN

I've probably seen Rise Against more times than any other band in the past (9th and counting), so the daunting task of driving three hours one way from Copenhagen to Århus and back later during the night would've been a bit too long of a distance to travel to see them again. That is, if it wasn't for the excellent supporting cast tonight. If there's one band that's 'happening' right now, it's Touché Amoré, and any opportunity to miss their 'wave' energy and pure, uncompromising honesty should be considered a crime for someone with such deeply vested interests in the music scene. I mean these guys are re-defining hardcore almost exclusively on their own, save for the likes of La Dispute, Defeater, and Pianos Become The Teeth. Having one of the best UK metalcore crews Architects as the main support was only a bonus, and as such, yours truly and our trusty photograph Lykke Nielsen decided to journey our way to the sold out Voxhall for a lineup consisting of mixed genres, but a crowd consisting of almost solely Rise Against fans.

Touché Amoré

Alas, the number of people familiar with Touché Amoré could be counted with one, maybe two hands if you were lucky. Facing an audience that combined mainstream music fans with punk rock fans, their heavier and more direct stance was always going to mean an uphill battle to win the crowd over. Yet it took literally one song before the crowd cheers grew larger and the excitement levels started climbing towards the ceiling. Usually, when the first support band plays in front of any audience, they must succumb to the fact that there's going to be lots of chatter amongst people who've never heard of you before and aren't interested in finding out either.

Tonight, this was simply not the case. The audience is almost spellbound in unison staring at the stage as Touché Amoré give them a lesson in emotional intensity and convincing, energetic, yet passionately honest and brilliantly stage performance that makes it difficult to remove ones eyes from enigmatic vocalist Jeremy Bolm. I mean, this is a guy who is literally throwing himself around the stage in vehement flurries of hardcore spirit, fury, and intensity all packaged into one, hell of a raw feeling, while his colleagues are doing their best to keep up rocking out their instruments from side to side. The audience is almost completely silent mid-song, demonstrating intense concentration on the spectacle that is unfolding in front of us, even if not all are able to appreciate it just yet. But once Bolm drops his mic and opts to scream his lyrics a cappella and receives a response from the die-hard three or four fans right at the front, the audience begins to understand just what Touché Amoré, the 'wave' movement, and hardcore is all about. This is emotion at its rawest. Hardcore spirit at its best. A revolution within a genre turning its dated rules upside down. And it's turning a room full of music fans, most of whom aren't normally accustomed to music this aggressive (it is Rise Against, after all) and have certainly never heard a Touché Amoré song before into a cheering mob by the end of their set... that, my friends, is why this band consistently scores in the 9s and near 10s for their live show. They are just that convincing. Tonight, the display would've easily been a full 9 had they had an audience like this one. But just like Bolm sings on "~", "If actions speak louder than words, I'm the most deafening noise you've heard". Do yourself a favor and get into this band if you haven't done so already.

8

Architects

I'll admit to having been skeptical about Architects being on the Rise Against bill. After all, what is a metalcore band doing supporting a political punk band from the US? Especially one with tracks as heavy as "Early Grave", the second song tonight after a soft landing through one of the cleaner tracks from their upcoming album "Daybreaker". It turns out the bookers knew exactly what they were doing, although the beginning of their set certainly suggested otherwise. "WALL OF DEATH!", screams Sam Carter, and the packed venue shows literally no reaction to his request. "MOVE!", he continues while signalling to divide the room with his hands, but to no avail. This is clearly a crowd not interested in gimmicks, especially not after the grounding display of honesty from Touché Amoré just before. But not one to give up, Carter requests a circle pit after the next song and this is when the room blows up into a large pit, and from here on it all makes sense.

Carter is exceptionally good at convincing the crowd to do exactly as he says, whether it's having the entire floor jumping, enticing people to crowd surf and even stage dive off the stage and the barrier, or just to put their hands up and clap to the rhythm of their punk-rooted hardcore/metalcore hybrid songs. He does so to an extent that by the end of their thirty minute set, the crowd is wanting more and the whole shebang that started with minimal interested is starting to look like an Architects headline set all of a sudden. It's an impressive showing against a new crowd, and one that shows why they are considered to be one of the best metalcore bands in recent years. They are innovative, cliche-free for the most part, and make sure to include lots of clever melody in their songs to make even a relative newcomer to their music find their performance rock solid throughout.

8

Rise Against

For all their left-wing politics and anger at the 'system', recent Rise Against shows have, in my opinion, showcased a band looking like a shadow of their former, pissed off, rebellious selves as we've grown to expect them to be over the years. They don't necessarily look tired, but they certainly exhibit all traits of a band touring and playing concerts on complete autopilot aside from a few glimmering moments of hope tonight that suggest otherwise. It's not that the energy isn't there: the band still takes effective use of the whole stage, engage in scissor-jumps and command the audience sing along with high-octane melodic hardcore songs like "Collapse (Post-Amerika)", "Broken English" and countless others that have captured our hearts and minds during the last decade or so. The sing alongs are there consistently, and the song selection is classic Rise Against style with dips all the way into material from "Revolutions Per Minute" and "The Unraveling"-eras to appease fans both old and young. Indeed, if this is your first Rise Against show, it is, mildly put, fucking awesome through and through, if for no other reason than the underlying professionalism with which the band executes their songs night in night out, which alone are often enough to carry a show on their shoulders.

No, the problem isn't what we see on stage, it's in the details. Having seen the band eight times in the past on stages both small, medium-sized and enormous, McIlrath & co just don't feel as convincing and as believable tonight (which extends all the way to their Copenhagen show last year) as they have done in the past. It's as if the spark and the fiery political ideology that their songs are based on is missing from the hearts and the minds of the band, but given how convicted they have been of their cause their entire career, this doesn't seem probable.

The truth is likely much more one-dimensional than that: there are longer sections where people aren't really moving along to the music (at least not at all compared to the huge jump-athons Architects arranged just before), the sing alongs sound more automatic than passionate, and these coincide with material from their latest album "Endgame". While not a bad album by any means, it's a far cry from the remainder of Rise Against material, and it's highly likely the band has realized this through a year of touring in support of the album. When you're coming off a weaker album that gets less of a response than you've gotten in the past, it's of course difficult to not let it get to you.

Criticism aside, these are just the ramblings of a huge Rise Against fan with an eye for the details after having seen so many shows with them. The truth is, they pull together another solid set tonight, even if it is a far cry from the near-perfect experiences they are able to deliver from time to time. Moreover, when Tim breaks down the set into the mandatory acoustic guitar-only session and extends "Audience Of One" with discussion about how Behemoth's lead singer scares the shit out of him, and how he wishes to have seen them when they played at this very venue a few days before, he adds a personal touch and a sense of belonging to the crowd that has been largely absent until this point. But as the band finishes their 20th song after the encore, it's difficult to not take note of how the set is becoming more of monotonous "lets sing along to some punk anthems" type of a show rather than the anticipated release of rebellious energy that used to be synonymous with a Rise Against show only three years ago.

Setlist:

  • 1. Survivor Guilt
  • 2. Ready to Fall
  • 3. Collapse (Post-Amerika)
  • 4. The Good Left Undone
  • 5. Broken English
  • 6. Help Is on the Way
  • 7. Disparity by Design
  • 8. Drones
  • 9. Re-Education (Through Labor)
  • 10. Blood to Bleed
  • 11. Satellite
  • 12. Paper Wings
  • 13. Prayer of the Refugee
  • 14. Audience of One
  • 15. Swing Life Away
  • 16. Make It Stop (September's Children)
  • 17. Give It All
  • --Encore--
  • 18. Midnight Hands
  • 19. The Strength to Go On
  • 20. Savior

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