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On winners and losers by underground

Like the sadist I am, sometimes I like to watch Fox News, cheerleaders of religious conservatism, where the likes of O’Reilly and Hannity make the most ridiculous assertions. According to Hannity, Obama is a socialist because of the US’s increasing deficit, despite George W Bush’s efforts to plunge the surplus he inherited into the red. Yesterday, I enjoyed Hannity slating the network’s opposition for their criticism of the Fox-endorsed anti-Obama “tea party” protests. While I believe it is part of the media role to often advocate a cause, organising anti-government protests is hardly fair and unbiased. And who are the people protesting? They are not the millions who took to the streets objecting to Bush’s illegal war and the erosion of civil liberties. They are tens of thousands of people who voted for the guy that did not win a democratic election last year. They are the sorest of losers, who supported a failed president for eight years and have written off the guy who inherited his mess; a troubled economy and a fractured nation. They are Hannity and Co.’s rent-a-crowd.

In New Zealand, the Left have had to stomach a National Government for six months and, even more difficult, the realisation that John Key is not as bad as previously believed. Key’s empty rhetoric and lack of substance pre-election concerned many, but his inclusive, measured governance has caused a re-think from many. There are indications unpopular policy may be in the pipeline and their pre-Christmas rush and their 100-day inaction may have given opponents some amnunition, but for the time being it’s plain sailing for the Government. The losers of the last election will need to regroup and consider their moves for the future. Let’s not see the pathetic sore-loser response shown by the tea baggers across the Pacific.

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Review: Rise Against at the Powerstation 31/03/09 by underground

Previously of the Chicago hardcore underground scene, Rise Against is no longer under the radar. Their latest album, Appeal to Reason, made it all the way to number three on the Billboard 200 in the States, and their latest single Audience of one is played on even the most commercial pop radio station. Punk elite may slate the band as sell outs, but when seen live it is evident that the passion and grit evident in their first album, The Unravelling, remains.

Having seen RA a couple of times before, I knew what to expect before their Powerstation show in Auckland. However, the crowd at the latest show was very different to their previous shows, with many dressed as though they were going clubbing as opposed to a punk show, indictive of how much this band had connected to a different audience of recent years, or even just months. Accordingly, their new songs were greated with cheers from the fashionably attired, whereas the earlier tracks were met with some bewilderment. From their first album, Stainglass and Marble bought the diehard old fans charging forward to scream the song in unison, whereas Re-education, Audience of One and others from Appeal to Reason got the younger fans singing along.

While some bands fail to take their songs from the studio to the stage, RA has no such problem. Vocalist Tim McIlrath’s voice never fails, replicating even the persistant, yet audio, scream of State of the Union as capably as on the original recording. After a lengthy set, the band left the stage, before returning with acoustic guitars to perform the awesome Hero of War, and the crowd favourite Swing Life Away. The volume picks up for three more encore songs, ending on the passionate Prayer of the Refugee, before the band depart and the house lights herald the end of an entertaining Tuesday night.

Sales of the band’s first four albums must have increased after that show, after the punkrock virgins got their first taste of what real live music sounds and looks like.