“But I’m not the answer for the questions that you still have…” ~Savior, Rise Against
The first time I saw Rise Against I was working the concert as a photographer. I brought my son and two of his friends, all preteens, and we piled into the car for a night of pizza and punk rock in San Diego. Rise Against was (and is) my son’s favorite band, and I was only briefly familiar with their music. I went for the kids and the photographic experience. At the time I wasn’t all together impressed, but I didn’t hate it, either. I was, however, a bit intrigued by what I learned about Rise Against’s commitment to social activism while doing research for the article.
Vegan, socially-aware, ultra cool punk rockers? What’s up with that?
I was exposed to more Rise Against (or RISE as my son says) as time went by and slowly grew to like them. When Epicenter 2010 came up—and I was offered the opportunity to cover the event which featured Blink 182, KISS, Eminem, 30 Seconds to Mars and of course, Rise Against—I jumped at the chance. After the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to photograph the legendary KISS in action (see all Epicenter photos here)—I did my Rise Against tour in the ‘pit’ and then settled back to watch them finish their performance. (As concert photographers, we usually get to shoot the first three songs from the photo pit up front and then we’re back to “regular folk,” but with crappier seats).
I watched the audience’s reaction. I listened to what the band had to say. And I then found myself mightily impressed by vocalist McIlrath’s voice, passion and, well, singing abilities. “Huh. So they’re not just screaming. Interesting.”
After that I listened to more Rise Against in the car and learned the meaning behind their songs. I started to think that these guys were not half bad.
2011, Long Beach Arena. Back on assignment, covering Rise Against and Bad Religion, with two kids, a friend and a nephew in tow. I handed my camera off to the friend so I could dance, sing along and even fist pump the air like a crazy woman. I knew all the songs…I knew all the words. (“I won’t sweat one more drop for yooou!” “Standing on the rooftop, ready to fall!“) Yup, that middle aged woman rockin’ out was me. As we were leaving the venue, one of the guys seated behind me said, “You are the coolest mom ever.” I accepted that compliment with pride.
1.5 years later I found myself buying last-minute tickets to Rise Against’s 2012 tour stop at the Honda Center in Anaheim. I brought three (now teenagers) with me, and for the first time in a long time I attended a concert without actually working it (I Tweeted live from the event, apparently unable to stop reporting.) Though I felt dizzy at the height and extreme angle of the Honda Center top ‘cheap seats’ seats, after Rise Against took to the stage I forgot my fears of falling to my death and was able to (slowly) dance and (softly) first-pump in the air.
The band sounded as good as ever, their set was the best use of design and lighting I’ve seen them do, and there was a surprise appearance by Tom Morello of Rage Against the Machine. Yes, I’ve heard of Rage Against the Machine (I am the cool mom, remember?).
I’m an ABBA fan. I love reggae. And though I do listen to KROQ (LA) and 91X (San Diego), I’m a die-hard fan of the 80s. But it seems these socially-aware punk rock boys have won a new fan…an accidental fan. If you don’t change, you die. I guess I will change, then.
PS: Here’s a bonus from my son. It’s a drawing he created in Illustrator from one of my Rise Against photos.