Rise Against Tear Up Marquee Theatre Tempe, AZ 11-20-15 w/ Killswitch Engage & Letlive.

This was just a few months back, Rise Against teamed up with Killswitch Engage and letlive. for one of the most diverse, compelling tour packages in some time. That is why that when a little over a week into the tour, a new leg was announced with the same bill just visiting different cities during a different season. Kicking off that second leg on November 1st up in New Hampshire, the tour found its way across the country to the Arizona desert for a visit to the city of Tempe on Friday the 20th. Nearly two hours before the Marquee Theatre opened its doors, the parking lot completely filled up and drivers found themselves scurrying to locate other parking options. Several people stood on the streets holding makeshift signs that they were looking to buy tickets. In other words, the show was completely sold out. Once inside the venue, fans packed themselves tightly, trying to get as close to the stage as humanly possible and the room buzzed with excitement as everyone was getting ready to watch three heavy-hitters in the world of Metal.

The first band to take the stage was letlive. Since their formation in 2002, the Los Angeles group has steadily been gaining momentum as a talented Post-Hardcore band. After a few lineup changes, the band now consists of Vocalist Jason Aalon Alexander Butler, Guitarist Jeff Sahyoun, Bassist Ray Jay Johnson, and Drummer Lionel Robinson. Also joining them as a touring member is former Bruno Mars live guitarist Kenji Chan. Continuing to support their universally acclaimed 2013 album, The Blackest Beautiful, letlive. have built a strong name for themselves with touring among bands like Taking Back Sunday and Pierce the Veil, among many others.

As soon as the group went into 2010’s “Renegade 86,” Butler hit the ground running,  literally; his lithe frame was in constant motion. The only time he stopped was when he shared personal anecdotes with the pumped up crowd. Besides displaying versatile vocals, which ranged from screams to emotive singing, and introspective lyrics, Butler was a passionate, intense, and an engaging frontman as they played on with songs like “White America’s Beautiful Black Market,” “Murther,” and “Banshee (Ghost Fame).” At one point in the set, he even jumped into the raised arms of the crowd. Sahyoun’s and Johnson’s playing complemented Butler’s energetic stage presence and singing. Their riffs were loud, heavy, and cohesive all while Robinson’s drumming tied everything together with untethered energy and a rawness that accentuated the band’s Punk sound.

The audience fell in love with letlive., and when Butler told them to form a circle pit, everyone immediately spread out to make room for a sizeable mosh pit. Besides thrashing to the music, fans crowd surfed and head-banged to the band’s fast-paced songs. One of band’s many strengths is that they in no way adhere to a formula with their music; each song had its own quality and expression and there was no feeling of repetitiveness. When the band ended their set with “27 Club,” the fans were upbeat and primed for the rest of the evening. Letlive. will be following up their recent success in 2016 with the new album If I’m the Devil… via Epitaph Records, so keep a look out for an official release date.

Following letlive’s set, the energy inside the Marquee Theatre continued to heighten, especially when Killswitch Engage took the stage. Hailing from Westfield, Massachusetts, Killswitch Engage is one of the more recognized and commercially successful Heavy Metal bands of the last fifteen years. In fact, the group is noted for being one of the founders of Metalcore, as they have deftly incorporated melodic singing and harmonies with heavy riffs and screaming vocals. Formed in 1999, the band has since produced six studio albums, including their most recent in 2013, entitled Disarm the Descent, and received several nominations for Best Metal Performance and Metal Album of the Year.

Ready to light up the stage, Killswitch Engage did not cut any corners for their show. Their set was elaborate, with a wall of lights traversing along the back of the stage as well as laser lights streaming neon green, fuchsia, and blue across the venue. Known for their chunky guitar riffs, insightful lyrics, and high-energy performances, the band did not disappoint. Vocalist Jesse Leach filled the room with powerful, emotional singing and screams as they began with 2006’s “My Curse” before going into “Beyond the Flames,” “Life to Lifeless,” and “Numbered Days.” He constantly engaged with the crowd and took a moment during the show to express his appreciation to the fans as they also played cuts like “Rose of Sharyn,” “In Due Time,” and oldie “Vide Infra,” among others.

Meanwhile, Guitarist Adam Dutkiewicz and Bassist Mike D’Antonio were equally charismatic and energetic as Dutkiewicz had no qualms poking fun at himself. He pogoed while never missing a note, and, at one point during the set, he flexed his muscles while making a funny face at the crowd. Though Drummer Justin Foley was slightly more subdued than his bandmates, his playing was just as heavy. His double kick seemed to almost reverberate through the massive crowd. Missing from the lineup was their second guitarist Joel Stroetzel, who had to return home to take care of personal matters. Fortunately, the band got some help from their production manager, who played four songs with the group during the set and helped keep the energy levels throughout.

Killswitch Engage closed out their set with Disarm the Descent single “Always,” followed by crowd pleasers “My Last Serenade” and “The End of Heartache.” The audience expressed their affection for the band, crowd surfing and singing along to the music. During the chorus of  the aforementioned “The End of Heartache,” Leach’s voice was joined by a multitude of fans for an epic send off that no one will soon forget. Following the completion of this tour Killswitch Engage will be partaking in a handful of headlining East Coast dates to round out 2015.

After Killswitch Engage finished their set, the crowd was sufficiently warmed up and ready for the headlining act Rise Against. Since its formation in 1999 in Chicago, Illinois, Rise Against has garnered attention for its melodic Punk Rock sound and high-energy performances. Still riding high off the success of their 2014 album, The Black Market, Rise Against are a band which some may say keep the true spirit of sincere Punk protest alive.

When everything was suddenly bathed in darkness, just before the band members took the stage, the Marquee Theatre audibly swelled with cheers and screams. From the moment Rise Against started their first song, “The Great Die Off,” Zach Blair (guitarist), Joe Principe (bass), and Brandon Barnes (drums) were magnetic. Despite the fact Blair and Principe ran all over the stage, jumping off of risers with enviable ease, their playing remained tight and aggressive. Barnes added to the cohesiveness with his powerful drumming and Vocalist/Guitarist Tim McIlrath was equally electrifying as they played songs such as “The Good Left Undone,” “Give It All ,” “Drones ,” and “Re-Education (Through Labor).” His vocals were emotional and his lyrics were insightful, often reflecting on social issues affecting young people today.

Though the audience was already eager to watch Rise Against play, McIlrath did not take his fans for granted. He always stayed connected with them the entire performance, expressing that he was glad to perform again in Tempe as they rocked out “Survive,” “Prayer of the Refugee,” and even played “Under the Knife,” a song many had not heard live since 2011. The audience was completely engaged with the band’s show. Many head-banged, some sang along, and dozens held their phones in the air, capturing photos and video as “Ready to Fall” closed out the set. Appearing to be their final song, the crowd chanted, “Rise Against.” To everyone’s happiness, the band performed not one, but three encore songs that included  “Swing Life Away,” “Dancing for Rain,” and finally, “Savior.”

This tour offered Metal fans an opportunity to watch three very different, but equally talented bands. Rise Against and letlive. proved that Punk is alive and well, while Killswitch Engage demonstrated why they remain one of the most respected bands in the world of Heavy Metal. Though the tour has nearly reached its end, expect to see more of letlive., Killswitch Engage, and Rise Against very soon.



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