With the seats being filled up, and a good number of patrons walking into the pit of the court, Pagan showed up and brought a menacing start to the night. Bludgeoning Margaret Court with an emulsion of hardcore punk and Black Metal, Pagan thrashed and bashed the hell out of their set with a fiery aura that brought the house down. Given that this was massive opportunity for them, Pagan promised power and potential to everyone that came down early to witness them, with the likes of Imitate Me, Wine & Lace and Good Grief. Pagan also announced two songs in that they were releasing a new album this year, and gave everyone a sample of what was to be expected, to then receive a great amount of praise from those who came early to show the band support.
Considering that Sydney representatives Bare Bones have had a good run since last year, them getting the support slot for Rise Against was yet another accomplishment for themselves. Presenting a majority of their material from ‘Bad Habits’ to a bigger audience, Bare Bones earned themselves a good response from those in the pit by revving up the hardcore punk movement that they’ve been renowned for in the scene. Having supported the likes of The Bronx and Stone Sour last year, being up on a bigger stage was in no way intimidating for Bare Bones at all. They treated it like another day at the office, and man, did they do it well.
With the sirens blaring throughout the venue, along with a powerful percussion number following up, Rise Against stormed the stage, with Tim McIlrath demanding everyone’s fists in the air, screaming “Rise! Rise!”, as they opened with Chamber the Cartridge. From there on, everything was about to go haywire in the pit. The energy that fumed across the arena was blissful, and with Rise Against being very fluid with crowd control, it really didn’t take much for the Chicago-born quartet to get everyone going apeshit over the likes of Re-Education (Through Labor), The Violence, Collapse (Post-Amerika) and an extended Prayer of the Refugee with a bigger break and solo to accompany before the final chorus.
Halfway through the set after Prayer, the lights dimmed and no one was seen onstage. But a little while later, it came to everyone’s surprise that Tim McIlrath went on the opposite side of the venue near the sound desk with an acoustic guitar. McIlrath would then earn the help of the tens of thousands of fans to sing along with him to People Live Here, Hero of War and Swing Life Away, which became a really spellbinding moment for Melbourne. Afterwards, McIlrath returned to the main stage to continue five more songs. But, of course, everyone knew it wasn’t 100% complete without at least another by Rise Against. But right before they blew the crowd away with Savior, McIlrath announced his awareness of the controversy surrounding the person named after the arena, and asked, “What’s it gonna take to rename Margaret Court Arena?” and later suggested it should be called the “Rise Against Arena”.
Though arena shows aren’t something I constantly attend, I can sure as hell say that when there’s a good band that’s headlining a show at one, then you are definitely going to get your money’s worth. Considering that Rise Against have been on my gig bucket list for over a decade, to finally catch a glimpse of what they’re about live was more than what I ever anticipated. In conclusion, Rise Against are not an entity that should remain overlooked by those that haven’t had the audacity to catch them in the flesh. If you even like only one song by them, it’s only gonna take one night with them to change your mind and make you wanna get even more fanatical when they come to your town next time!
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