Rise Against's Tim McIlrath at the Wiltern Tuesday night (David Tobin/Living Out Loud LA)
It’s always a special show when a band plays their home turf. Last night, however, was the exception as Chicago’s Rise Against kicked off a sold-out, two-night stand at the Wiltern. The foursome was happy as could be on stage, and it wasn’t only due to the packed house. It was because they were with their people, and it showed.
The stage looked basic, but then letters that spelled out ‘RISE’ started to become illuminated in blue against the dark black vacancy of light. A giant canvas started to lower down featuring the artwork from their latest album, The Black Market, which released over the summer. The sound of feedback crept into the speakers, and the band took the stage. Then with the kick of a drum, the show was on!
Rise Against ripped through some hits and then backtracked to songs off their first album, 2001’s The Unraveling, all the while reminiscing about their early days as a band. They talked about playing the infamous Chain Reaction in Anaheim and how lucky they are to now take the stage at the Wiltern. It is truly amazing to see bands that were once thought of as ‘little acts’ to come in and bring down the house.
That’s one thing this band has always had: something more. Rise Against has lived up to their name, and they keep their message (as well as their sound) consistent over the years. The songs mean something. They are anthems for those that want change and are not going to tolerate just sitting around letting the world get shittier because of others.
After the main set of the show was done, they came out for their encore – but not with a bang. Singer, Tim McIlrath quietly walked out carrying an acoustic guitar. He patiently waited for the crowd’s chatter to subside before speaking. McIlrath thanked the audience members for their support and then began a speech that captivated everyone. He expressed why the song he was about to perform was so important, and that it was for all of us, not just the fans present at the venue but for everyone.
The song “People Live Here” is a haunting ballad that clearly tells a modern story of our lives. McIlrath continued, “We are tired. We are constantly hearing how bad things are. That’s all we hear. Are you tired? Well, this song is for you. It’s for all of us that are still doing something to make this world better. For all of us that give a damn and aren’t going to just let it fall apart.”
When the cheers died down he went into the track with the band fading in. It was absolutely perfect. Barely any cell phones were held up, instead lighters and voices were raised. Everyone was moved.
Then the band finished with “Satellite,” and this was the exclamation point of the show. The song about changing the world was belted out by everyone in the room. This track and every one before it sounded exactly like they do on their respective albums. The passion, the drive, the power were all there from start to finish. The nonstop motion of the pit was a direct reflection of what was going on onstage. This was easily one of the best shows of the year.