There are concert lineups you don’t know how they came together, but you are happy they did. One of the more surprising in the past couple years for me, but makes sense after a minute to think about it, was Reverend Horton Heat, Fishbone, and Strung Out. While not as genre crossing, another three big names I didn’t expect to tour together would be the one from this night with Rise Against, Descendents, and the Menzingers at the Arizona Federal Theatre.
More surprising is trying to figure out who headlines and looks like the roll of the dice landed on the Menzingers as our openers. This band is one of my favorites in the melodic side of punk rock. Not only do they have a great stage presence with Greg and Tom alternating vocals on songs, but they always are smiles across the band through the entire set.
Although they only had a thirty minute set, the shortest I think I’ve seen them perform, they squeezed in a good selection of old and new songs like “Thick As Thieves” to older tracks like “Good Things.” Pretty appropriately, if you take aside two more awesome bands to come, they closed out the set with “After The Party.” For only the first band, Menzingers immediately made it known how awesome a night of music this crowd was in for.
Smack dab in the middle of this amazing lineup were the punk rock legends, the Descendents. Just typing out the name immediately gets “I Don’t Want To Grow Up” looping in my head. Milo came out with his water bottle strapped around his body, keeping hydrated as he sang familiar lyrics and ran around that stage. You found Bill Stevenson smiling behind the kit as Steven Eggerton and Karl Alvarez played with excitement and emotion. The pit, within the appropriately named pit area of Arizona Federal Theatre, sprang to life channeling the excitement on stage.
Like Menzingers, they were pulling from across their long catalog for this night. They hit on a few of the new, and technically old, tracks off their latest release 9th & Walnut opening on “Sailor’s Choice” along “Nightage” and “Like The Way I Know” littered through the set. I found myself belting along lyrics through my mask to things like “I Like Food” and “Bikeage.” Descendents are never a letdown and this near forty five minute set delivered another wonderful time.
After both those bands, surprisingly this tour wasn’t done yet with Rise Against the headliners. They came out with the high energy and great stage backdrop. Behind them a cool set of displays started off flashing TV’s similar to their latest album release, Nowhere Generation. These displays would be used throughout, changing to show animations and videos related to the set.Tim McIlrath looked in his element up there singing and leaning into the microphone.
Behind him Zach Blair, guitar, and Joe Principe, bass, exchanging spots and constantly moving to nearly every part of the front of the stage. That lower stage at Arizona Federal Theatre made this even better for fans up front to feel close. At one point Tim introduced the song “I Don’t Want To Be Here Anymore” talking about the past couple years and how nearly everyone in that audience has probably said that exact phrase in that timeframe. He was really good at talking with the audience throughout like this.
In their first encore, Tim came out solo with an acoustic guitar to play “Forfeit” and “Swing Life Away” with the other members rejoining for an explosive end, or so I thought. However, that wasn’t the end and they came back out for a second encore that would start on “Survive” then finally finish on another appropriate classic of theirs, “Savior.” During that I could only be amazed watching as the backing lighting adding to a cool looking stage presence. Rise Against puts on a hell of a performance and were the exclamation point at the end of a wonderful bill of bands this night.