Rise Against? Killswitch Engage? letlive? All in the same building at the same time? No, this isn’t part of fantasy show booking. This is a real thing that’s happening here in my backyard of Indianapolis.
The aforementioned bands made a stop at the Egyptian Room at Old National Centre.
I’ve admired Rise Against for many years. Like any angsty high school kid, they were one of my favorite bands. They even kicked off my tradition of going out to a show before a big race (in 2012, it was the Mini-Marathon. Tonight, it’s the night before the Monumental Marathon, because nothing says “let’s rest up for 26.2 miles like running in circle pits). I’ve had this show circle on my calendar for weeks, so let’s do this. Time to get thoroughly rocked before wondering what rocks were in my head when I registered for a marathon back in January. Allons-y.
letlive. kicks off the evening. These California rockers have been seemingly everywhere over the past few years. I unfortunately missed most of their set when they were in this very building back in 2012, but now I can really see what they can do.
While I’m not a huge fan of letlive., you do have to admire how much they put into every show. Frontman Jason Butler brings a lot of energy to the stage and even gets a small circle pit going at one point (throwing it back to their early days in LA). Judging by the crowd, it doesn’t seem like many people came to see them (a lot of standing around with a few people singing along), but everyone did listen when he was talking. In the end, letlive maybe isn’t a band I’ll listen to on a regular basis, but if they do end up on a bill for a show I’m going to, I won’t object.
The room is getting pretty full. As it would be point out later in the evening, this is a pretty diverse show. We have a post-hardcore outfit in letlive., metal heavyweights in Killswitch Engage, and one of punk rock’s finest in Rise Against. Who is everyone here to see? We’ll find out soon enough.
I’m here for Rise Against, but this is also a chance to see another band I’ve admired for some time now.
Killswitch Engage is a band I’ve liked for many years. I actually saw them in this very room back in early 2010. The difference? That night, the band was fronted by Phil Labonte of All That Remains, effectively making the band “Philswitch.” Okay, so I never got to see the band with Howard Jones singing, but I do get to see them with original frontman Jesse Leach, and that’s still pretty rad.
The KSE backdrop is reveal to much cheering from the crowd. Before too long, the lights go out and “Turn Down For What” fills the room, complete with a small light show. The band takes the stage, kicks things off with “My Curse,” and away we go.
Between the three bands on this bill, KSE sticks out like a sore thumb (something they themselves acknowledged). However, this isn’t a bad thing. All they can do is what they do best, which is bring metal to the masses.
Even 5 years later – and with a new/old frontman, no less – KSE still brings it during their live shows. The guitars are heavy, the vocals are just as fierce, and you can’t help but headbang during their set. Another thing that remained the same was the antics of guitarist Adam D. From chugging a beer before a song to stage banter, it’s still refreshing to see that even metal heavyweights like these don’t take themselves too seriously.
As for the crowd, it seems a little divided. Some are singing (screaming) along to every word, throwing their horns up, and wanting to get into the pit (or over by me, an enthusiastic kid taking his mom’s cell phone and recording everything). Others looked like they were just counting down the minutes until Rise Against would come out. It may have started out slow (as Leach would put it, we’re just saving ourselves for later), but things did pick up. Especially towards the end of the set with “My Last Serenade” and “The End of Heartache,” where you could hear almost every voice singing along.
A Killswitch chant breaks out, but there’s no encore to be had here. After all, this is a Rise Against show and KSE is along for the ride. Our main event is right around the corner. Some retreat to the lobby to check out the mercy tables or maybe hit the bathroom or the bar, while others try to sneak in closer to the stage (myself included). I’ve waited a long time to see Rise Against perform again. Is it time yet?
I came here alone, so there really isn’t much to distract me from the wait. I may have uttered my favorite Cheryl line (“this is so boring and forever taking!”) a few times. Patience is a virtue, right? I still need more music. I can has music?
After an agonizingly long wait, the lights go out, the familiar heart fist logo can be see in the background, the band takes the stage, and we’re underway with “The Great Die-Off.”
If the last band was the appetizer, then bring on the main course. The crowd is gladly raising their fists in the air and singing along to every word as if it’s gospel. Judging by some of the songs, it’s like time I went to a political rally, but less scary.
Speaking of song selection, I’m a little surprised most of their set is from 2008’s Appeal To Reason, seeing as they just released a new record in The Black Market. Of course, I know I’m not going to get a full set of songs from Revolutions Per Minute, but hey, I’m not complaining. Any opportunity to see one of my favorite punk bands is something I’ll jump all over. Kind of like some of these people to get some crowd surfing going.
McIlrath takes a few moments to remind us where he came from, for a few weeks at least. The frontman was born in Marion County and moved to Chicago a few weeks later. The Emerson also got a shout-out. After all, that’s the place where the group that we now know as Rise Against originated.
I’m having a blast singing along to some of these old songs I’ve been listening to for the last decade (and participating in my first circle pit in ages), but sadly, it can’t last. After one rousing rendition of “Ready To Fall,” they exit the stage while the rest of us are left in the dark begging for more.
McIlrath comes back out, acoustic guitar in hand, and we get a few slower songs, like “Hero of War” and “Swing Life Away” before closing it out with “Savior.” From there, it’s one final farewell and back out to the real world. The one that’s a little quieter in comparison and not nearly as interesting.
Final thoughts (sorry for the delay!).
This is a show that took place at the beginning of November, and I’m just now posting this towards the end of January, but even after all this time, this show still sticks with me. Maybe it’s because RA is a band I’ve loved since high school. Maybe it’s because I’ve waiting so long to see these guys again. Maybe it’s because a great show that makes you escape everything for a few moments (including the 26.2 mile trek I have to go on the next day) is a rarity and when it does happy, you can’t help but dance a little more, sing a little louder, and just have some fun.
Whatever the reason, this tour has this section of the market cornered. Everyone who cashed in on it this evening is a winner.
Though somewhat similar in scope, each band brought their own flare to the show. letlive appealed to post-hardcore people, KSE was for the metal crowd, and RA for the punks. It’s one of the few times I’ve seen a show like this done well. It didn’t feel like an overload of one thing by the end of the night, and you remember each one.
It took me this long to write out all my thoughts. Apologies!