Rise Against with Killswitch Engage and letlive in Indianapolis reviewed Nov21

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Rise Against with Killswitch Engage and letlive in Indianapolis reviewed

Between Letlive.’s Jason Butler, Killswitch Engage’s Adam Dutkiewicz, and Rise Against’s Zach Blair, energy was the name of the game when Rise Against brought their tour to Indianapolis recently. Any one of these bands would put on a headline-worthy show, but to experience all three back-to-back was nothing short of exhilarating and, frankly, exhausting in the best possible sense of the word.

Letlive. has been making waves in the scene for a few years now, so it came as no surprise that they started the night off with a bang. Lead singer Jason Butler is well-known for his explosive stage show, and their set in Indy found him climbing atop speakers, break dancing, and dousing himself in water before continuing to flail about. The band’s effect on the crowd was instantaneous.

Towards the end of their set Butler requested that the house lights be turned on to “just like the floodlights in the backyard shows [they] used to play” and told the crowd to open up an old-school circle pit. Normally this request seems to result in a slight opening forming in the crowd, and a few people hopping around inside before the circle closes 15-20 seconds later. Letlive.’s circle pit was an entirely different animal, with fans running around the pit throughout the entirety of the song, making for a strong ending to end an impressive set.

When Killswitch Engage hit the stage for their set, guitarist Adam Dukiewicz hopped to the very front of the stage before the other members had even reached center stage. In fact, Dukiewicz spent most of the night at the front of the stage as he goofed off, posed, and made silly faces as he played.

One of the highlights of Killswitch’s 12-song set was the performance of “My Last Serenade” from 2002’s album Alive or Just Breathing. The album has acted as a cornerstone of sorts for the band- it was the album that ushered them in to mainstream success and original lead singer Jesse Leach re-joined the band just as they were celebrating the album’s 10-year anniversary.

With that in mind it was no surprise that the performance was so striking, as many long-time fans were swept up in the nostalgia.

Killswitch Engage has often been praised for their positivity, and it was nice to see this positivity extended to their live show as well. At times the band members were downright goofy as they fooled with each other and the crowd, but even with all of their crazy antics the musicianship never slid even for a second.

As the band went in to their final song, “The End of Heartache” the energy in the room reached a new level. By the time they reached the chorus the fans singing along completely overwhelmed the sound coming from the band.

After a brief set change the house lights lowered and the over-sized “RISE” lights that had been placed along the back of the stage began to shine. The band made their way to the stage with little commotion and headed straight in to the opening track of 2014’s The Black Market, “The Great Die Off.”

The performance of “Satellite” was an aspect of the show that felt somewhat larger-than-life. The bulk of the song was performed even faster than the studio version with bright lights illuminating the stage, while the slower bridge of the song stood in stark contrast.

The lights were lowered and the neon green that had shone across the stage slowly faded to yellow and was finally replaced with a faint warm glow that lit McIlrath as he so carefully scanned the audience with a deliberateness that seemed loaded with poignancy. Oftentimes artists seem to retreat inwards, but McIlrath was so fully present and connecting with individuals, rather than merely connecting with the crowd.

Just as quickly as that small pocket of tenderness appeared it burst into the final wave of the song, seeming to draw even more intensity from band and crowd alike to close out the song as McIlrath raised his guitar high in the air and guitarist Zach Blair stood atop a riser at the front of the stage, fist pumping in the air.

Keeping this sense of connection running strong, McIlrath hopped off the stage and spent the second half of “Give It All” standing on the barricade, leaning into the crowd, much to the delight of fans lucky enough to secure a spot up front.

Midway through their set Tim broke out a bit of Rise Against trivia, informing the crowd that despite growing up in Chicago he was actually, to some extent, a Hoosier since he was born in and spent the first week of his life in Indianapolis.

Bassist Joe Principe added that the band can trace its roots back to Indianapolis’ long-running all-ages venue The Emerson Theatre, as Tim and Principe decided to start the band while chatting in the venue’s small lobby during an AFI and Indecision show.

But even with all of these Indiana ties McIlrath showed his true Chicago nature, claiming he spent the past several days trying to come up with the perfect redneck joke and was ready to harp on the crowd, until they pulled up, read the marquee, and realized they would be performing at Old National Centre on the same night that redneck comedian Jeff Foxworthy was hosting a show in the same building!

Despite being such a message-heavy band the show was almost entirely devoid of (spoken) social commentary, save for a few comments before “Make It Stop (September’s Children)” where McIlrath expressed his concern for the extreme bullying of LGBTQ youth that so often leads to tragic ends.

Heavy though the subject may be McIlrath managed to end his statement on a bright note, proclaiming, “Love is love is love is love is love. Progress is being made, and this song goes out to those victories.”

As the night came to a close the band played two acoustic songs, “Hero of War” and fan-favorite “Swing Life Away” before briefly disappearing from stage. They reemerged with “Dancing For Rain” and “Savior,” evoking a final burst of energy from the crowd who made full use of the guards that lined the front of the stage prepared to catch crowd-surfers.

Overall the night was a massive success. It’s difficult to imagine a more hard-hitting, high-energy tour package than the mega-force these three bands have created, and when you’ve got that kind of talent firing on all cylinders as these guys were, a good time is guaranteed.

-Ashley Adcox

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