Pausing during “The Strength to Go On,” Rise Against’s lead singer Tim McIlrath thanked everyone for respecting security and medics and established that, “We all come here to be part of a family.” This declaration of dedication for the safety and security of the crowd was in response to a fallen fan.
In a jam-packed show on Jan. 27 at the UIC Pavilion—the band’s biggest show in Chicago to date—the crowd not only heard Rise Against’s tried and true testimonies about humanity in its music, they also witnessed McIlrath’s true colors when he halted the encore. Proving their loyalty, the crowd members remained in the arena while the fan was picked up and carried to safety.
The set list, comprised mostly of Rise Against’s recent albums Appeal to Reason and Endgame, affirmed the band’s social and political stance and added more ammo to its arsenal, calling out the leaders of our nation who have failed society.
The political protest continued, woven through the lyrics of “Survivor Guilt” and paired with onstage video panels revealing raw images of the world we live in filled with protests, wars, riots and terror.
Lyrics, “We were told just to sit tight, cause somebody will soon arrive. Help is on the way. But it never came!” lent more insight into the Rise Against’s view of the world with the satirical message in “Help Is on the Way,” regarding the procrastinators in authority and the lack of urgency in response to the damage caused by Hurricane Katrina. Melded with McIlrath’s unique vocals and rhythmic guitar riffs, the trifecta approach exemplified his concern for current social issues.
The sandpaper vocals of McIlrath continued to captivate the crowd with the high-power and polished guitar riffs of lead guitarist Zach Blair during “Ready to Fall.” Later, they were complimented by a dynamic, Joe Principe bass guitar solo, transitioning from the crowd-pleasing “Re-Education (Through Labor)” to “Blood to Bleed,” which kept the crowd on high alert and set an anticipatory vibe as they eagerly awaited the rest of the show. Brandon Barnes also showcased his skills, as every person in the Pavilion felt the vibrations of the drums on songs such as “Satellite” and “Paper Wings.”
That overall refined sound from each member, combined with raw talent made this punk-rock show easily heard and enjoyed by all in attendance. The amount of rock signs, beach balls, crowd-surfing and articles of clothing thrown up in the air represented the crowd’s response to the band’s energizing performance.
Fans moving like tidal waves gravitated toward McIlrath during a stripped-down, acoustic “Audience of One,” and three-fourths of the way into the concert, belted out the lyrics to the acoustic version of “Swing Life Away,” for a moment, stealing the show and granting McIlrath his wish of “getting loud with friends and family—with Chicago” in the band’s home town.
Rise Against setlist:
- “Survivor Guilt”
- “Ready to Fall”
- “Collapse (Post-Amerika)”
- “The Good Left Undone”
- “Broken English”
- “Help Is on the Way”
- “Disparity by Design”
- “Re-Education (Through Labor)”
- “Blood to Bleed”
- “Paper Wings”
- “Prayer of the Refugee”
- “Audience of One”
- “Swing Life Away”
- “Make it Stop (September’s Children)”
- “Give it All”
- “Midnight Hands”
- “The Strength to Go On”