By Keeyahtay Lewis
Saturday night, Rise Against came to Susquehanna Bank Arts Center on their current tour. They brought The Menzingers and A Day To Remember along for support. I had heard great things about The Menzingers so I was looking forward to checking them out first hand, unfortunately I only heard a handful of songs. What I heard sounded good, but it is hard to judge properly from 2 songs.
Next up was A Day To Remember. I am a fan of this band but I honestly didn’t expect them to be that great live. Most bands who have a singer who screams and sings, I have found to not sound that great live. There has also been a lot of press about them lately, suing their record label, some fans are upset. So I went into this show with all this in the back of my mind. I will say right now, I was super impressed with how they sounded. They started the set with “The Downfall Of Us All” which was probably a perfect way to start. It got the crowd whipped into a frenzy right away. Susquehanna has a small pit in the front, and the rest of the place is filled with seats. Although the pit wasn’t that big, the audience made the most of it. Crowd surfing and going over the barrier right from the start.
“A Shot In The Dark”, “I’m Made Of Wax Larry, What Are You Made Of”, “My Life For Hire”, and “All Signs Point To Lauderdale” were next. Every song was a hit with the audience, and the energy on stage was matched note for note. Jeremy McKinnon was able to go from a throat shredding scream to a pretty great singinging voice pretty effortlessly. Guitar players Kevin Skaff and Neil Westfall traded solos and at times, vocals, while bass player Joshua Woodard and drummer Alex Shelnutt kept everything moving.
The energy was high for everyone on stage, and in the audience. Everyone ran back and forth making sure that every person in attendance, no matter where they were sitting, felt like they were a part of the show. McKinnon was all smiles, waving often to the crowd. He commented often about how much he hated the seats and the fact that not everyone could get as wild as he would have liked. They played all the fan favorites, “2nd Sucks”, “You Be Tails, I’ll Be Sonic”, “Homesick”,”Have Faith In Me” all sounded fantastic. At one point the band started throwing toilet paper rolls out into the crowd, and before long there was paper everywhere, flying through the air. They finished up their set with “The Plot To Bomb The Panhandle” which was a clear, old favorite, of everyone there. Before this song hundreds of balloons dropped from the ceiling while the stage exploded with huge streams of smoke and lights. Definitely ended on a high.
Rise Against were up next and the energy could be felt in the room. Flanked by 4 large screens set vertically along the stage, the band came out to pictures and messages that were already playing. The band is known for being a little politically charged and being active with Peta and animal rights organizations. Pictures flashed across the screen for a lot of the show that showed how important certain issues were for the band. They opened up with “Survivor Guilt”, “Ready To Fall”, and “Collapse.” Like ADTR Rise Against sounded fantastic live. Both bands were able to duplicate live, how great they sound on record. Singer Tim McIlrath keeps that grit in his voice that we are used to hearing, but never pushes it into the range where it sounds like he is losing control. Bass player Joe Principe and guitarist Zach Blair sounded great and helped out with backing vocals. And drummer Brandon Barnes kept everyone in time.
McIlrath spent some songs strapped to a guitar, but for the songs he wasn’t playing guitar on, he did his best to work the crowd. Like McKinnon of ADTR, McIlrath is a charismatic frontman who made a point of grabbing hands and connecting with the audience. Their set was rounded out with songs from all their albums and every song was met with screams. “The Good Left Undone”, “Drones”, “Paper Wings”, Prayer of the Refugee”, “Help Is On The Way”, “Blood to Bleed.” Everything sounded great. Tim came out and played a couple songs acoustically alone, “Audience of One” and the definite favorite, “Swing Life Away.” Before SLA he talked about how they were in NJ playing and he dedicated the song to his “brothers” in Thursday. He talked about how they came up playing shows together and how much the band will be missed.
The rest of the band joined him on stage for the rest of the set. “Make It Stop”, “Give it All”, “Midnight Hands”, and “The Strength To Go On” were all next in the encore. “Savior” was the last song, and it is definitely a personal favorite. 20 seconds in both the band, the lights, and the crowd went absolutely ape-shit.
I have to say, it was one of the best all around shows I have been to in a long time. Often it seems that the support bands are not as good as the headliners, but in this case, every band brought something special to the stage. Although Susquehanna is mostly seats, no one was sitting for any of the bands. I left there feeling great about what I just saw, and I know that I wasn’t the only one. I would definitely go see ADTR or Rise Against play again. It was the first time I had seen either band, but I doubt it will be the last. Great job guys, all around. Great job.
All photos courtesy of Keeyahtay Lewis. See more of his photos at DeadBoltPhotos.com
A DAY TO REMEMBER