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When growing up in High School and starting to discover my on style of music that I like. There was one band that I can across that I fell in love with pretty much instantly.  That band is punk rock giants Rise Against. Back then, Rise Against had just put out their fourth studio album, The Sufferer & the Witness, and I had this CD on repeat. This was back in 2006, and yet it would take me until 2017 to finally see them live. Having listened to this band for over a decade, they had a lot to live up to, and they absolutely surpassed that. Now finally, it was time to see them for a second time. Packing the Kia Forum for their Nowhere Generation Tour and bringing along one of my other favorites The Used, and a band I have been curious to see live Senses Fail. As I waited for the first band to take the stage, I was bouncing with anticipation for how amazing this show has the potential to be.

Opening the show was a band I always heard of in passing, but never took the time to listen to. And that is completely on me. But Senses Fail hit the stage and was ready to wake up the crowd. Lead singer James “Buddy” Nielson started winning over the audience looking like a grease with impeccable fashion style. Slicked back hair, and a stylish button down, Nielson was oozing charism to win over people who may not know Senses Fail that well. Guitarist Jason Milbank brought the more post-hardcore style to the group, as he could be seen running around the stage and posing from side to side for the crowd. All the while trading off licks with fellow guitarist Gavin Caswell. Drummer Steve Carey helped start the mosh pits for the night, and the crowd could not resist moving to his double bass hits. Playing songs like “Bite to Break Skin,” “End of the World/A Game of Chess,” “Buried a Lie,” “Death by Water,” “Calling all Cars,” and “Can’t Be Saved.” I regret not having listened to Senses Fail prior to this show, and plan on rectifying that immediately.

The next band to hit the stage has a special place in my heart. They are the band that introduced me into the emo scene and made me fall in love with this kind of music. The Used had finally come back to LA to bring their lyrics of hurt and emotion to the masses. When going into the song “Take it Away,” vocalist Bert McCracken likes to spit a mist of water up and over the crowd. I happened to be standing in the splash zone as I got bathed in the falling mist. None the less, it just amped me up to be screaming and singing a long with the band. Bassist Jeph Howard must have one of the most powerful, and wide, power stances in rock as he plucks away on his bass. I always enjoy watching drummer Dan Whitesides play. The way he fits such subtle nuances and technique into his drummer, without making it showy has always helped add style to the band. All the while guitarist Joey Bradford plays each riff with such care and precision. One of the highlights of The Used sets was when Bert asked the crowd if they wanted to see a sneak peak of the next albums cover. As The Used had a 30ft banner showing their hanging heart logo behind them, the audience counted down: 3. 2. 1!, and the banner fell to reveal, the same banner that was already hanging up. The band had pulled a joke on the entire crowd. Along with joking with the crowd, The Used played through some of their best songs like “Maybe Memories,” “The Bird and the Worm,” ‘Listening,” “Blow Me,” “Taste of Ink,” “All I’ve Got,” “Pretty Handsome Awkward,” and closing their set with “A Box Full of Sharp Objects.” I always have the best time when I get to see this band live.

I have been waiting five years to see Rise Against live again. It was almost five years to the day actually. And the wait has been worth it. The boys in Rise Against opened their set with “Prayer for the Refugee,” and as the opening chords to the got strummed out, every person a part of the nowhere generation was ready to come together and rock. Vocalist and rhythm guitarist Tim McIlrath has a commanding voice that is almost preacher like. McIlrath uses this voice to preach some of the most heartfelt and moving lyrics in the punk rock scene. Lead Guitarist Zach Blair knows how to shred while layering his guitar with McIlrath’s rhythms perfectly. Joe Principe not only holds down the low end on bass but provides the backing vocals that make Rise Against chorus’s so powerful. Drummer Brandon Barnes stays in the pocket with some of the best grooves of the night behind the kit. Though Rise Against is a punk band, when I listen to them I don’t always hear the heaviest of music through my headphones. That changes when you see them live. They crank those amps to 11 and make sure the crowd is moving the whole time. This night they even opened up three separate mosh pits on the floor of the Forum. Those moshers were having the time of their life running around to songs like “Satellite,” “Help is on The Way,” “Collapse (Post Amerika),” “Re-Education (Through Labor),” “Dancing for Rain,” “Make it Stop (September’s Children),” “Hero of War,” “Nowhere Generation,” “Give it All,” “Survive,” and ending the night with “Savior.”

Sometimes, when you have been listening to a band for so long, they can fall to the wayside in your mind. It’s not that you lose interest in them, you just don’t listen to them as frequently as before. That sadly did happen to me a bit with Rise Against. But the easiest way to fix that is to experience their music live. Rise Against not only sent waves of rock music through my soul, it reinvigorated my love for this band and why they are such a staple in the music industry. It took five years for me to remember this from the last time I saw them, and I don’t intend to let them fall to the wayside again. Along with The Used and Senses Fail, I hope none of these bands take too long to come back to town. As I will not be patiently waiting to get a kick of adrenaline from seeing them live again.

Matt Martinez

Editor - Orange County

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