Rise Against stormed into the Mesa Amphitheatre Friday for their first headlining show in the Phoenix area in over two years, rocking out for the enthusiastic crowd.
Opening rock acts Hot Water Music and The Gaslight Anthem had small sections of the crowd jumping and dancing to begin the concert. The Gaslight Anthem’s solid rock ‘n’ roll vibe was a great way to prepare the audience for the main attraction.
The diverse crowd had everyone from young kids in Rise Against t-shirts, to adults that have followed the band for the past 13 years.
Rise Against opened their set with a short, politically driven video that was displayed on three standing screens on the stage. The band wasted no time, launching right into “Survivor Guilt.” Lead vocalist Tim McIlrath’s energy level was obviously high as he jumped around the stage, shredded on guitar and sang without restraint.
This was the band’s first time back in the Valley in over two years due to its boycott after SB 1070 was passed by Arizona’s government. McIlrath addressed the boycott midway through the show, saying that the band was returning to spread its message of preventing discrimination and prejudice that it feels the new law has promoted. He was quick to add that the band was grateful for the support of fans, regardless of whether they supported the law or not.
The show continued with the same contagious energy and power as guitarist Zach Blair, bassist Joe Principe and drummer Brandon Barnes played through the band’s hits, including “The Good Left Undone” and “Prayer of the Refugee.” The set was punctuated with an incredible light show, as well as various video clips that played behind the band.
A unique moment in the set took place when the band played a monologue from the hit TV show, “The Newsroom,” before returning to the stage to continue the concert. Rise Against’s political message was made abundantly clear with all of the video footage of soldiers, third world countries and politicians that displayed in the background.
The crowd was grateful for a moment of respite when McIlrath took the stage by himself, playing an acoustic cover of No Use for a Name’s “For Fiona” — dedicated to the late Tony Sly — as well as “Swing Life Away.” A powerful sense of unity was present in the audience as McIlrath’s soaring vocals completed the songs.
Rise Against put on an amazingly visual show that had audience members of all ages jumping and clapping along. The many unique elements that the band brought to its concert convinced the crowd that those two years of waiting for their return to the Grand Canyon State was worth it. McIlrath assured the crowd, “We’re here to stay Arizona!”
Reach the reporter at Okhiel@asu.edu