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Live Review: Rise Against w/ Bare Bones @ Riverstage – 14.02.18

Let’s be honest, 2018 has been pretty challenging straight out of the gate. But what better way to spend a romantic Valentines Wednesday evening than thrashing around in the heat with a couple thousand of your fellow Rise Against fans? We made our way to Brisbane’s Riverstage for some mid-week madness to find out.

With a career spanning over almost two decades, it was no surprise that the experienced rockers from Chicago could draw such a crowd for a mid-week show. While Riverstage was nowhere near capacity, a healthy number of punters rocked up early enough to catch Sydney hardcore rockers Bare Bones in action. The release of their debut album ‘Bad Habits’ last year really saw the five-piece step into the bigger leagues as they were invited to Unify Gathering ’17, support slots for some of the biggest local and international acts. Bare Bones came out swinging with great energy, urging the crowd to get involved. Despite the heat and lack of enthusiasm from the crowd at the start of the set, it wasn’t long before Bare Bones had the mosh moving and crowd singing along with their killer guitars and huge choruses. In our humble opinion, there could not have been a more fitting act to open for the likes of Rise Against.

Given the current political turmoil the world finds itself in at the moment, Rise Against have plenty of ammo as their politically charged catalogue becomes ever-more relevant. Taking the stage to the sound of sirens and military-style drumrolls, Rise Against wasted no time in cranking up the energy as they blasted out some old favourites with the likes of Chamber the Cartridge (sung through a megaphone!) and Give It All before giving us a taste of The Violence, which was one of only three songs performed from their 2017 album ‘Wolves’.

When you’ve been a band for as long as Rise Against have, it makes sense as to why they have live performance down to such a fine art. While lead vocalist and guitarist Tim McIlrath led his comrades with immense energy, years of touring are definitely starting to take their toll. Some slight timing and vocal slipups crept in, however, the five-piece soldiered on with enough gusto to make you forget about these almost instantly. Despite these fine cracks, Rise Against played to their strengths and delivered a set filled with absolute bangers from their back catalogue much to the crowd’s delight.

After Blasting through Dancing for Rain and Prayer of the Refugee to name a few, McIlrath took things down a notch. Standing alone on the stage with an acoustic guitar sung around his neck, the frontman delivered and an incredible segment of acoustic goodness featuring People Live Here, Hero of War and Swing Life Away. Very few musicians are able to make an outdoor venue of this size feel as intimate as it did. “This part of the set is like the eye of a hurricane,” said McIlrath, “…where you can look for your other shoe.” While this acoustic segment was a hit amongst fans, admittedly the guitar sounded a bit muddy. Luckily, McIlrath’s voice held true as he serenaded the masses in what was a needed break amongst the chaos that soon resumed.

The hard-coking quintet wrapped up the set with some high energy guitar work, some killer solos from Zach Blair and enough strobe lighting to send most epileptics into a state of panic! Some of the later hits such as Help Is On the Way, Satellite and Wolves had the crowd singing along and turned the mosh pit into a glorious chaos. Saving one of the best for last, Rise Against delivered a stellar rendition of the ten-year-old track, Savior, as the crowd had been requesting for most of the evening. The crowd lost their minds and sung every word back at the stage as a flood of energy swept over Riverstage. All we can say is that was one helluva performance.

We went in with high expectations and despite the odd issue here and there it would be wrong to say these expectations weren’t met. Rise Against are entertainers. Their showmanship is seldom rivalled and we only hope that after years of blowing people’s minds the world over, Rise Against will return to Australian shores.

See the full gallery from the night HERE.

Written by Daniel Devitt

Photos by Ben Tevisuals