Concert Review

Rise Against & A Day to Remember Raise the Bar High in the ‘Burg

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(all photos courtesy of– check out the extended slideshow there)

Sunday night May 6, 2012. A sea of arms and legs and rockin’ heads all came together to witness a true happening. Stage AE Pittsburgh played host to Rise Against, A Day to Remember,and Title Fight and the sold out crowd was primed and ready from the get go.
The Kingston, PA (Wilkes-Barre/Scranton area) band Title Fight hit the stage at 7PM for their half hour set. The energy of the band was furious and their songs filled with teen angst fury that played extremely well to the crowd. The band have been on the cover of Alternative Press magazine (Nov. 2011) and have been gaining popularity since the formulation in 2003 and are moving up the alternative world since signing to SideOneDummy records. After speaking with Jamie Rhoden (guitarist/vocalist) it seemed that the band was very excited to be playing Pittsburgh and gaining new fans who will have another opportunity to see and support them at Warped Tour.
A Day to Remember hit the stage taking no prisoners and did not stop cranking out high energy tunes such as “Shot in the Dark”, “All Signs Point to Lauderdale”, and “All I want” at maximum velocity. The security at Stage AE was very anxious over this performance due to the reputation and well-known crowd surfing and craziness that ensues at their shows. It was glorious. The audience had such a great time, and even though injuries occurred (at least 7 transports to the hospital confirmed), if one were to ask any one of the crowd if it was worth it, the reply would be an overwhelming “YES!”. Singer Jerry McKinnon was a powerhouse in lead vocal and even surfed the crowd in a clear inflatable bubble. Guitarists Neil Westfall, and Kevin Skaff played high intensity power chords while bassist Joshua Woodward and drummer Alex Shelnutt held down a uproarous beat. If one did not come to the show a fan they undoubtedly left as one. Verification could simply be confirmed by the merchandise flying off the shelves even after frequent restocking. (At $20 a pop for shirts, the punk ethic of staying fan friendly when it comes to merch and shows was clearly evident by all the bands.)
The big event soon drew closer. Rise Against hit the stage at 9:10 with a stage concentrating on band performance, not visual distraction. The crowd had built into a frenzy and was truly intimidating, like an animal that had grown too large and demanded to be fed. Rise Against provided.
Vocalist/guitarist Tim McIlrath spouted spot on lyrics of passion and political compunction. His stage presence and presentation came through all the way to the back fences. Highlights included, “Help is on the Way”, “Disparity by Design”, and “Prayer of the Refugee”. There was even an acoustic break with “Audience of One” and “Swing Life Away”. The hour and thirty minute some set was a full intensity and full money’s worth performance. The guitar work and dramatic flair of Zach Blair was highly impressive. Joe Principe (bass) and Brandon Barnes (drums) performed with wanton abandon, holding the low-end and driving the rhythm that the crowd used as fuel to continue their crowd surfing, song lyric shouting, and keeping their hands raised in pure ecstasy.
It’s not often that one is treated to a triple bill of talent and showmanship all in one night. While all the festivals bring many of these bands together, this felt like the perfect recipe that this writer wishes would be replicated more often. Hopefully wishes do come true and Pittsburgh will see these bands and bands of this calibre in the perfect venue hit the North Shore again soon.

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