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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.



Anti-Flag postponed? How will I vent my post election blues? by underground
November 16, 2008, 8:44 am
Filed under: Music, Politics | Tags: , , , , , , ,

Pittsburgh’s Anti-Flag were to offer New Zealanders an avenue to let off some energy and some political rage on December 3, but according to their website they will be postponing their Australian and New Zealand tour “until further notice” due to “circumstances beyond our control”, whatever that means. Looking at the upcoming overseas schedule they won’t be returning until at least the middle of next year. Holders of tickets are advised to return to place of purchase and get a refund.

I was looking forward to this show like nothing else. Not just because the two previous times I have seen them were for pathetically short slots at festivals, and not just because even during these short shows they totally kicked arse, but because I was looking forward to running around in a sweaty mosh pit full of like minded individuals singing political slogans at the top of my lungs. How better to get over being sold out by your countrymen and women? Man I love this band!

Oh well, I suppose I’ll be waiting for Rise Against on March 31 then.



Found: The greatest song ever written! by underground
October 19, 2008, 2:39 pm
Filed under: Music, Philosophy | Tags: , , , , , , ,

I believe music is a means of communication. A song should have a message, it should tell a story. The listener should feel something; anger, happiness, sorrow, humour, anything. A great song should make you think, either about the artist who wrote it, or what they were rtying to convey. The best songs should really get to you emotionally and/or intellectually, it should change your opinions, challenge your beliefs, or bring a tear to your eye.

Earlier this week I purchased the new album from Rise Against Appeal to Reason. I reviewed it for this blog and TWN. Track 10 is the greatest song ever written. Not only is ‘Hero of War’ beautifully sung and performed, it has the most powerful lyrics ever. Tim McIlrath’s voice is so genuine, you really believe he is the soldier in the song. If Rise Against wanted to top the charts, this track should be the next single released on this already successful album (open #3 on billboard 200) so the whole world can hear it. It really is that good in my mind. This is what music is really about, not faux-lesbians, gansta-rivalries or obnoxious mindless bass thumps. Amberleigh Jack, this is the song I will play my children.

Oh, and buy the album, it’s awesome! Continue reading



Review: Rise Against – Appeal to Reason (and NZ/OZ tour info!) by underground

The anticipation of listening to one of your favourite band’s latest albums for the first time is a thrill I expect I share with most music lovers. Rise Against’s Appeal to Reason will do well to impress, following 2006’s exceptional Sufferer and the Witness. From the get-go, The Sufferer and the Witness caught the listener’s attention, with epic anthems demanding you sing along at the top of your lungs. In fact, this rings true of all their previous releases. On first listen of Appeal to Reason, however, there doesn’t seem to be that same attraction. The songs overall are very good; Rise Against is arguably one of the most consistently good punk bands around, rarely putting a foot wrong. However, Rise Against is truly great when they mix it up, and some of the tracks on Appeal to Reason are a bit formulaic and on first listen, there are only a few surprises.

After giving the album another listen, I start to feel I may have been a bit harsh on Appeal to Reason. The band has grown since Sufferer and the Witness and whilst the signature sound is clearly dominant, the band has matured in its song writing. There are still the sing-alongs that make this band so great live, but greater detail has gone into the song structure and to the guitar riffs, pulling in the listener with catchy hooks. Continue reading



Music to vote to by underground

As elections loom in New Zealand and the United States, some songs become particularly relevant. Before I cast my vote on November 8th, my MP3 player will probably be playing Bad Religion’s “I want to conquer the world”, or “You are the government”. I fear the following day it might be “Fuck Armageddon, this is hell”! I think American’s would be best listening to Nofx’s “The idiots are taking over”, with a line that could almost refer to Sarah Palin. Hopefully they will be playing a more optimistic song the following day!

Alright, here are my top ten (modern) punk songs to vote to: Continue reading



That’s not punk! by underground

What the punk?

Yes that’s right, punk is dead
It’s just another cheap product for the consumers head
Bubblegum rock on plastic transistors
Schoolboy sedition backed by big time promoters
CBS promote the Clash
Ain’t for revolution, it’s just for cash
Punk became a fashion just like hippy used to be
Ain’t got a thing to do with your or me
Punk is Dead – Crass

Punk died in the 1980s. I wish they’d stop trying to resurrect it. I’ve debated this over and over. Punk is dead, kids. Get over it.” Urban dictionary

Punk rock isn’t any more alive and thriving today than psychedelic rock or new wave. As far as the broader culture is concerned, it’s been dead for awhile and it ain’t coming back.J.P. Gorman

Is punk dead? Having now fractured into so many sub-genres, it can be easy to see why people would look back 20-30 years if asked what music is punk. Additionally, considering the only punk music that gets any real exposure is pop punk, with lyrics typically about romance or bratty teenagers, or emo, which I will refrain from attacking, it is understandable that many people would believe the punk ethos to have either died, or to have dispersed elsewhere. However my friends, punk is not dead. It has, however, evolved and thankfully matured from its chaotic and often unintelligent infancy. Continue reading