Rise Against are one of the good ones when it comes to the genre they live within. The pop punk with a slight sprinkle of emo (Wikipedia says hardcore punk, but I just don’t see it in a world of Black Flag and Dead Kennedys) uses politics as their central theme, to Rise Against it all, and it’s positive energising music which I loved as a teen when strumming away on my fake plastic guitar on Guitar Hero III. A whole bunch of time has passed since then, too much, too fast, too soon, and what do you know? I’m still having fun.
The show started with a video, for every gig needs a video these days, showing the chaos of war with some badly drawn cartoon characters (some badly drawn boys too… sorry), and that Manchester was the next target! Of course with Rise Against on stage this would be stopped with the power of music… and so it goes. The theatrics of it all felt a little too hammy, but the music was more hammering, the better of the two hams.
Songs were for against everything bad in the world, from homophobia, to refugees, to war, to general nasty business through oppression, and each speedy guitar thrash led into intensely catchy anthems (just try to resist ‘the clincher in ‘Re-education Through Labour’) for the crowd to sing along and riot to by crowd surfing or stomping the O2 Opollo’s sticky floor. There was even a moment set aside for some solo Rise Against acoustic numbers, a perfect intermission (breather) before the biggest hits such as ‘Savior’ popped up to create a sea of fists pumping into the air.
The music of Rise Against might not be nuanced when it comes to its content, musically or lyrically, but it’s a fast paced blast of pop punk fun with a message any sane person can get behind. Isn’t it a shame there aren’t many of those folks hanging around these days?