For the last fifteen years, or even longer, every time I was asked to single out my favorite band, the answer would be Blink-182 or Rise Against. Blink-182 was the band that got me into punk rock and made me love it. Rise Against took from there. 'Siren Song of the Counter Culture,' 'The Sufferer & the Witness' and 'Appeal to Reason' were a huge part of my high school and college years, and generally, had a huge influence on who I am today. However, growing up in Serbia made me wait until 2012 to see them for the first time, and it was in this same city - Budapest.
Six years after the first Rise Against show I went to things stand quite differently. Rise Against grew from a big, but yet underground punk rock band to a rock and roll royalty. And they did it with no compromise. I may prefer their older records and the faster, more aggressive sound of earlier releases, but I still have nothing but respect for the band. So this show was a must, and I didn't regret it. Not one bit. A day off from work, a sleepless night and a 600km road trip were all worth it.
The opening acts did their job just fine, combining punk rock and hardcore sound, and setting the place for the headliners. The first band - Poison Alley, left a strong impression on me, and I'll make sure to do a bit more research on them. Fair play to them, but it was clear who we came to see. Rise Against delivered a strong, 19-song set, making a mixture of old and new, fast and slow, and touching all phases of their career. The band is in the great shape, firing at all cylinders. With enough hits under their belt, it didn't take long for them to get the crowd going. Songs like 'Satellite,' 'Ready to Fall,' 'Savior' and 'Help Is on the Way' are all known crowd-pleasers, but it was great to hear the crowd sing the newer stuff like 'The Violence' and 'House on Fire,' too.
The special moment came in the second part of the show, with an acoustic set done by Tim McIlrath. Along with 'Hero of War' and 'People Live Here' he also played 'Swing Life Away' as an apology for not playing Budapest for a few years and the acoustic rendition of 'Voices Off Camera' from the upcoming release 'Ghost Note Symphonies, Vol. 1.' Shortly after, the rest of the band came onstage to deliver 'Make It Stop,' 'Like The Angel' and 'The Prayer of the Refugee.' The last one had a special meaning in a country whose government had some highly controversial decisions regards refugees, just a few years ago even building a fence on its borders. The fence that's still standing.
As much as I would like to, I can't say this was a perfect show. This was my fifth show in Budapest Park, and for the first time, I was not blown away by the sound. For the whole show, except for the acoustic set I had the feeling that everything was just a bit too quiet, and I was not the only one who thinks that way. On the other hand, as much as that sounds weird, I got the impression that Rise Against are just too big for their own good. They are popular, they do sell a lot of tickets, but their music is still more suited for clubs and intimate atmosphere.
Rise Against are still a punk rock band. They don't produce a show or a spectacle. They do not have a ton of special effects, pyro or whatnot. They offer a pure, old-school punk rock show. So this way, it seemed like they had a little bit too much crowd in front of the stage to hit with the full force. In some moments, it was weird to see the line between the old and the new fans. I was not too far from the stage, and still, I was surrounded by people who didn't know a single word of 'Blood-Red, White & Blue,' 'Voices Off Camera' or most shockingly, 'Like The Angel.' But still, I would do it all over again. And again, and again.