Rise Against Sweeps Festival Pier Off Its Feet a Second Time with Killswitch Engage and letlive.

Photography by Taylor Cancannon

A lot can change in six years, but walking into Festival Pier to see Rise Against was like stepping back in time to their July 2009 show. The venue was still coated in a bottomless pit of sand. The audience was once again specked with enough Rise Against tour shirts to encompass their full career. But, most surprising and nearly unbelievable, was that the show was just as remarkable as it was six years ago.

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Rise Against shows tend to open with heart-racing, fist-pumping, aggressive opening acts, and letlive. was no exception. Letlive. hypnotized the crowd with their opening song “Le Prologue” by tossing in an unexpected rendition of Michael Jackson’sSmooth Criminal.” Vocalist Jason Aalon Butler kept all eyes on the group by dancing along to his tracks and quite literally rolling across the stage. Even a blink was enough to miss a spectacular mic toss. The audience went ballistic when Butler hopped the barricades to dance along with his long-time and newly converted fans, working his way to the back of the venue and back down the center of the crowd before returning to the stage. Their set encompassed their motto of “you are letlive.” Furthermore, the group performed with poise and enthusiasm, introducing the evening with an undeniably energetic and well-executed act.

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Next to the stage was Killswitch Engage, a Massachusetts metalcore group that seems amiss sandwiched between the hardcore and punk rock acts. However, Rise Against has already gained a reputation for touring with groups throughout the rock umbrella, from punk-ska legends Rancid to pop-punk stars A Day To Remember, uniting fans of all parties involved and introducing them to new artists to explore. Killswitch Engage tossed the punk-rock crowd into an authentic metal experience, charged with finger-bleeding guitar solos, shattering screams, and enough headbanging to make even viewers nauseous. Guitarist Adam Dutkiewicz had more fun onstage than the moshers in the pit, cracking jokes every time he approached a mic and jumping on and off of every speaker in sight. Jesse Leach seethed passion and energy with his show-stopping vocals, leaving the audience aghast when apologizing for seemingly nonexistent vocal issues due to illness. Killswitch Engage closed their set with nearly all attendees satisfied with their fast-paced, top-class performance.

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Rise Against introduced themselves with their trademark, activist-oriented light show. Their letter screens, spelling out RISE, flickered as a dialogue was exchanged over a two-way radio. The lights dimmed for a suspenseful moment before Rise Against burst into view with the same explosion of energy as they had six years ago in this same spot. The stage was their playground as they ran back and forth, jumping off of and over all possible elevated surfaces. Rise Against continued these antics throughout their set without missing a beat or taking even a moment to catch a breath. They packed the hour with their most revered songs. Vocalist Tim McIlrath performed a breathtakingly raw and passionate acoustic version of their most known single “Swing Life Away.” However, Rise Against kept the crowd on its toes with surprise performances of their lesser known gems such as “Dancing For Rain.” Even more impressive than their showmanship and execution was their attitude. As in past shows, the members of Rise Against showed an outward, genuine appreciation for being on the stage. The members still sported the same smiles as noted at their previous visit to the venue. McIlrath made an effort to keep the set nostalgic and personal in reminiscing on a past show at the TLA, when they played as a trio without bassist Joe Principe, to introduce the song “Black Masks and Gasoline.” With a double encore, Rise Against appeared as enthusiastic to play their songs as the audience was for them to continue. All focus was on the group as they performed, and even individuals voicing that they were only present to see Killswitch Engage could be seen nodding and tapping along. Rise Against performed yet another unforgettable show at Festival Pier. Even six years later, Rise Against has not passed their prime. While their sound has progressed into a more streamlined rock and they’ve grown to tour with more diverse and widely known names, they are still the same band as they were in 2009. Rise Against still performs with the incomparable stamina and the same no-frills, punk rock stage presence as they had six years ago. Over the years, Rise Against has kept to their roots and upheld their fans’ expectations for a show worthy of acclaim.

See all the photos from the show below!

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