Words and Photos by Alan Snodgrass

Rise Against are back with a new album and a new tour, charting what appears to be a new normal in order to bring both to their fans. This past Sunday night found them at San Francisco’s Masonic with touring buddies Descendents and The Menzingers.

With the pandemic far from being in the rearview mirror, shows in San Francisco are coming with an extra price in the form of mask and vaccine requirements (or negative COVID test requirements). But kudos to the San Francisco crowd for not only putting up with the inconvenience but, for the most part, not being assholes about it. That said, the empty seats in the balcony would suggest that for one reason or another, not everyone is ready to dive back into the germ pool.

When The Menzingers took the stage at 7:30, the general admission floor was not quite full, and you could feel an air of nervousness, likely because this would be the first concert in over a year and a half for most people in the room. Even so, there were the diehards that lined up early to secure their spot on the rail, including a dude named Alex who stood by patiently through the opening bands with a folded-up cardboard sign in hand (more on Alex later).

The good news is that people seemed to be loosening up by the time The Menzingers pulled out “I Don’t Wanna Be An Asshole Anymore” near the end of their set.

With the ice broken, Descendents hit the stage and pummeled through a whopping 24 songs in 45 minutes. Admittedly some of their tunes (looking at you, “Wienerschnitzel”) don’t consume more than a few seconds, but are an impressive feat, nevertheless. And there were clearly some Descendents fans in the house, not only singing along to the classics like “Coolidge” but relishing the opportunity to hear “new” material off the band’s latest release, 9th & Walnut, with “Sailors Choice” being a particular highlight.

The masked-up stage crew flipped the stage quickly and Tim McIlrath strode onto the stage to the opening chords of “The Numbers” from their latest release “Nowhere Generation,” the multiple LED screens lit up with the album’s iconic television art setting the mood. It seems this was the moment that most crowds had been waiting and the pit started churning in earnest.

The band wasted no time ripping through their set which hit the crowd favorites while mixing in a healthy dose of new material. As has come to be expected at Rise Against shows, the rest of the band took a deserved break while Tim serenaded the crowd with some acoustic musings of which “Swing Life Away” was a particular stand out.

A short break brought the full band back for the encore which brings us back to Alex, the dude with the sign on the barricade. It turns out that that folded sign he was holding said something along the lines of “Let me play Survive.” First seeing that sign before the show started, I thought, “good luck with that,” thinking it would never happen (I mean, this isn’t a Green Day concert, and he wasn’t 12 years old).

Well, sure enough, a doubtful Tim McIlrath pulled a masked and nervous-looking Alex on stage who (after a little direction from Zach Blair) proceeded to absolutely crush it (check YouTube if you don’t believe me). You’d think it’d be hard to top that, but the band had no problem, wrapping up the evening with “Worth Dying For” and “Savior”.

Rise Against Setlist:

  • The Numbers
  • Re-Education (Through Labor)
  • Satellite
  • The Violence
  • Broken Dreams, Inc.
  • Audience of One
  • Ready to Fall
  • Nowhere Generation
  • I Don’t Want to Be Here Anymore
  • Chamber the Cartridge
  • Give It All
  • Forfeit
  • Swing Life Away
  • Make It Stop (September’s Children)
  • Prayer of the Refugee

Encore:

  • Survive
  • Worth Dying For
  • Savior

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