Rise Against and Alkaline Trio in Hampton Beach
If you’re like me (and millions of other people), you saw The Dark Knight this summer. If you’re even more like me, you saw it twice. Maybe you liked it better the second time, or maybe you preferred the surprise of the first viewing. Either way, the movie you saw was exactly the same both times. Now imagine that when you saw The Dark Knight for a second time, you realized that a scene or two had been changed. While the differences were subtle, they just happened to make the movie quite a bit better and more memorable. In a way, that is what happened when I went to see Rise Against, Alkaline Trio, Thrice, and the Gaslight Anthem for the second time in less than a week. While each band stuck to the forumla that was so successfull in Worcester five days earlier, a few welcome surprises made this show every bit as exciting as the first go around.
Hampton Beach isn’t the easiest place to get to. Actually, it probably is, but we somehow missed the exit and ended up taking a scenic tour of southern New Hampshire. This meant then when we finally made it to the venue, we were only able to catch the last four songs of the Gaslight Anthem’s set. Surprisingly, I didn’t even recognize the first three of those, meaning they weren’t from their latest release, The ’59 Sound. This was surprising because their set in Worcester consisted almost exclusively of songs from this record. They closed their set with “The Backseat,” which of course sounded great. The band plans to do their own headlining tour beginning in March, and that certainly can’t come soon enough.
In between sets, I look a second to take in the rather strange surroundings. Hampton Beach Casion Ballroom is a large rectangular room that looks like it was build sometime in the 50’s. As one of my friends said, if anyone ever lit a match in there, there would be some serious issues, for the interior is covered in wood paneling. Also, the stage seems to be located in the wrong place, on one of the long ends of the rectangle, putting more people closer to the front of the stage, but also leaving huge empty expanses of to the sides. The venue is located on Hampton’s main strip, right across from the beach and next to numerous tacky fried dough and souvenir shops. I’m not sure where the “casino” part comes in, because I certainly didn’t see any slots, but the building did have a gaudy Las Vegas style sign out front. It seems to fit the vibe of the entire town pretty well.
Next up was Thrice. Now I hadn’t been thrilled by thier set in Worcester, but tonight I would say they were more enjoyable. I especially liked the inclusion of “Music Box” in the set list, and “The Earth Will Shake” was once again executed perfectly as their last song. However, I was somewhat surprised that the crowd as a whole didn’t seem to know them very well. Sure, there were the diehards up front singing every word, but it certainly paled in comparison to the crowd at the Palladium.
After a rather long wait, Alkaline Trio took the stage to an ethusiastic roar and openned thier set once again with “Private Eye.” While the crowd seemed a great deal more interested in the Trio than they did in Thrice, the intensity level was still nowhere near what it was in Worcester. This wasn’t nessecarily a bad thing, for I was able to enjoy the set near the front of the stage and only came out with a few minor bruises. Also, I must mention just how happy Matt Skiba once again looked to on stage that night. He came out with an ear to ear grin on his face, and it pretty much didn’t leave until the band finished their set. Seeing how he feeds off the energy of the crowd and mouths the words to even Dan’s songs still impresses me, even with this being the forth live show I had seen the band perform this year.
While the setlist included only two different songs than the ones played a week earlier in the Worcester, those two substitutions made a world of difference, being that they were two songs I was dying to hear. The slightly tame “I Was a Prayer,” as well as the new track “Over and Out” were left out, as fan-favorite b-side “Warbrain” and Agony and Irony track “Love Love Kiss Kiss” were played consecutively. The fact that “Love Love Kiss Kiss” is one of the best tracks off their new cd, yet I had never seen them play it live made it that much better. Once again, a huge sing-along version of “This Could Be Love” served as a perfect closer to a great set.
Much like Alkaline Trio, Rise Against would not disapoint, displaying their trademark intesity throughout the show and also including a pleasent surprise in the set list. With their new record Appeal to Reason having now been on shelves for nearly a week, the tracks they played from that record were better received than they were in Worcester. This was especially true for “Hero of War,” the accoustic track which is sure to be a staple of their encores for years to come. The setlist was, however, still heavy with songs from 2006’s The Suffererer and the Witness. Due to the fact that the crowd wasn’t quite as rough as it had been in Worcester, I was able to actually watch Tim McIlrath and company on stage. I’m somewhat surpised the lead singer didn’t burst a blood vein during the set, considering the amount of intensity on his face, especially at the start of the set.
The highlight of the show for me was undoubtedly the moment they announced they would play “Broken English.” The track from 2003’s Revolutions Per Minute is one I’ve always consider perfect for a live setting, yet had never seen them play. It completely lived up to my expectations, inspiring a huge cirlce pit in the middle of the floor that saw some great crowd participation. The band once again closed their show with the combination of “Survive,” “Under the Knife,” and “Prayer of the Refuge.” Considering I’ve already praised their live show to such a great extent in my previous review, it’s difficult not to repeat myself, but I have to once again say that Rise Against is easily one of my favorite live bands, for they give everything they have every single night. While they haven’t reinvented punk music by any means, they have, in many ways, perfected it, writing songs that are not only socially aware and inspire action on behalf of the listener, but also sounds great both on record and in a live setting.