Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Rise Against - Bad Religion - Four Year Strong -- 9:30 Club - Apr 26 2011

Four Year Strong - Clean rocking hardcore punkrock night begins with this Massachusetts based four-piece. A lot of beards in this band. Are there too many beards in punk rock these days? Not sure, but there have been too many bands that sound like Offspring. Fortunately, this band varied their sound from that during their 28 minute set. They had loads of genuine pace and energy and were fairly melodic throughout. A couple songs were catchy while the rest just blasted away agreeably. They spent too much time dictating a required circle formation for the dancers up front rather than letting them get off on the music as they saw fit, as they were dancing along without any proclamation from the stage. They do need to work on stage patter... "Give it up for Bad Religion...and after that, the band you're probably here to see, Rise Against!" Uh, no. I'm here to see Bad Religion and hell, show some confidence. Maybe a few people were here to see you.

Bad Religion - I was buying this band prior to their first album when compilation cuts had to suffice. But they did more than suffice as there were few bands that moved from punk into hardcore and kept hook oriented songwriting skills at such a high level. These guys are all just a few years younger than myself. They still have original members on vocals and bass. Their two guitarists are punk legends, Greg Hetson and local fave Brian Baker, as Brett Gurewitz was not touring. The songs are excellent and went over well with the crowd, although the newer material was obviously not known enough to generate massive dancing. But doing songs from their first album, Suffer along with some other more recognizable tunes got  the expected great response. They can still deliver the fast paced melodic thrashers as well as anyone and with Dr. Graffin leading the way, they are worlds sharper than most bands as well. They didn't move around much (and if they have legs and a back like mine, I can see why), so they are showing their age. "I don't know how many more years we can do this people. I mean it." Graffin explained quite earnestly. As the Heartbreakers always said... "could be the last." If so, they went out with "Sorrow" and the guitars were blazing, rhythm section flying and the thoughtful lyrics thrust forward. I am happy to have had the chance to follow these guys for their long and storied history.

Live Photos (2011)
Rise Against - From Chicago comes this four-piece, sometimes with a couple of guitars, other times with a lead vocalist. The second guitar did add quite a bit to the sound. And the sound was massive. The soundman did a good job of pushing it to the brink but not into hyper-red annoying levels, although a couple of times the vocal screams went off a little harsh. But still a fine job presenting these guys. I was expecting to be a little cynical but they won me over pretty quickly with songs that were melodic but also seemed to have pretty sincere heart on display. Although I could have done without being told that they were playing a new song with "a message".  But when you have songs that make you want to move, I won't argue. I liked the bit of Irish feel in a couple of them that I also get from Street Dogs/Dropkick Murphys. Maybe it's the sound of the streets with a good folk background? Whatever, it worked. The crowd was having fun and I gave my prime viewing spot to a couple of short kids who were kind of hanging out behind the scenes. They can learn more than I can from these fellow straight edgers. Yes, and they are the future, etc. I just had to write that to show how many cliches swirl around in my brain giving me no right to be too cynical. Good rocking fun tonight. Most everyone looked happy and got home at reasonable times even. The band continues on for more sold-out shows. They have it working right.

Quote of the Night: Too many, tonight, but I liked this Bad Religion exchange:
Graffin: "It's been six months or so since we were last in the DC area, Is that not right, Brian?"
Baker: "Yes, that's right, Greg"
Graffin: "I'm glad you confirmed that because we were actually in Baltimore. Ooooh." (Boos)
Baker: "Hey, I'm not the smart one."

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