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Rise Against’s furious show demonstrates punk’s loyalty, durability

The veteran Chicago punk rock band Rise Against was on Uptown Theater bill with local heroes Radkey and Touché Amoré, both of which provided a more-than-ample warmup for the headliner, which fused fury and volume with melodies and songcraft that some pop songwriters might envy.
The veteran Chicago punk rock band Rise Against was on Uptown Theater bill with local heroes Radkey and Touché Amoré, both of which provided a more-than-ample warmup for the headliner, which fused fury and volume with melodies and songcraft that some pop songwriters might envy. File photo

From pop to hip-hop, many genres of music drift in and out of fleeting fashions and trends, but punk rock survives.

Monday night more than 900 people showed up at the Uptown Theater to watch three punk bands throw down more than two hours of music in a show that lived up to its all-ages billing, on stage and in the crowd.

The sun hadn’t set yet when the openers, Radkey, a band with two teens in its lineup, took the stage. The trio of brothers from St. Joseph has been touring nearly nonstop for almost two years now, both around the United States and overseas, and the benefits of all that roadwork are evident.

Playing its first show in Kansas City since December, the band drew about 400 fans to their early performance, dozens of whom sported Radkey merchandise. Their 30-minute set, which included two new songs (they are working on a full-length album), was filled with their trademark melodic blend of punk, metal and grunge, all leavened with Dee Radke’s gothic lead vocals.

Radkey was followed by Touché Amoré, a post-hardcore/punk band from California. They opened with “Gravity, Metaphorically,” an anthem that typified what filled the 40-minute set: blowtorch/jackhammer guitar riffs, thunderous percussion and shrieking, bloodletting vocals from Jeremy Bolm and instrumentals that veered into math rock.

That was all a more-than-ample warmup for the headliner, Rise Against, a veteran hardcore-punk quartet from Chicago now in its 15th year as a band. They took a stage set with an enormous banner sporting the cover of their latest album, “The Black Market,” that was flanked by a large “RI” on one side and an “SE” on the other. Throughout the show, those letters flashed an array of colors, all part of a dynamic light show.

Rise Against fuses fury and volume with melodies and songcraft that some pop songwriters might envy. Lyrics are personal and cathartic —emo, really. The band is led by vocalist Tim McIlrath, a kinetic and charismatic frontman. When he wasn’t playing the guitar manically, he prowled the stage microphone in hand, stirring a crowd that was in a steady frenzy throughout the 75-minute set. Singalongs were impressive all night. So was the crowd-surfing.

They opened with “Ready to Fall” from 2006’s “The Sufferer and the Witness.” It’s a bedrock punk anthem, fortified with steel-toed guitar riffs, buttressed with barnstorming drums and bass, all sweetened with harmonies on the chorus. The rest of the set was filled with more of the same — raging, dynamic anthems: “Give It All,” “Long Forgotten Sons,” “Like the Angel” and the high-speed “I Don’t Want to Be Here Anymore,” which showed off the rhythm section’s dexterity with shifting time signatures.

Other highlights: “Prayer of the Refugee,” which opens as a catchy hard-pop tune before erupting into a volcanic spree of guitars, percussion and screamed vocals; “Audience of One,” a modern-rock/punk anthem with some Goo Goo Dolls in its DNA; and “Satellite,” which closed the set.

McIlrath, who confessed to feeling under the weather, returned to open the encore with two-song acoustic set that laid bare his songs’ melodies. The first was “People Live Here,” with some electric guitar embellishments from Zach Blair, then “Swing Life Away,” performed solo acoustic. The full band returned for one more, “Savior,” one more raucous episode in punk for a loyal crowd that stayed until the end, even the moms and dads with school-age children.

To reach Timothy Finn, call 816-234-4781 or send email to tfinn@kcstar.com. Follow the Back to Rockville blog on Twitter @kcstarrockville.

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