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Word Count: 517

Rise Against Brings Political Rock to Grand Rapids

By Kailey Howell

Wayne State University

Com 2100, Oct. 2, 2017

Chicago rock band Rise Against recently brought their politically- themed music to The Orbit Room in Grand Rapids. The themes presented in Rise Against’s music are very liberal. Their songs include ideas that are anti-war, anti-violence and equality.

The fans lifted their fists in the air and chanted “Rise” before the band came out on stage. This created a unified feeling and heightened the political message that Rise Against presented.

The band would draw attention to the politics of their music by dedicating select songs to focus on certain issues. For example, the song “Help is On the Way” was dedicated to those still waiting for help from the recent tropical storms and hurricanes in United States.

The band dedicated the song “Make It Stop (September’s Children)" to those who have committed suicide due to the hate towards the LGBTQ community.

Local music commentator Brad LaPlante said, “My favorite song is definitely “Make it Stop” since it has such a strong stance on LGBTQ equality.”

Another song, “Survive,” was dedicated to those suffering from depression. The band acknowledged the recent suicide of Chester Bennington, vocalist of Linkin Park. The song discusses the need to acknowledge mental illness and end the negative stigma surrounding it.

The band’s photographer, Robert Sherman said, “I think that bands have to write about what they care about and how they feel and that makes the best bands great. Rise Against has always had an affinity for making a statement with their music, and I think at this point it’s part of their brand and we accept that as fans.”

Sherman also said, “I do agree with the messages that they convey in their music, because it’s usually about standing together and making the best choices for we as a people.”

Fan Alex Deherder said, “My opinion is music is about expressing how you feel and if [politics is what] they choose to talk about then there's nothing wrong with it. They seem like good bros.” 

Whether or not fans were there for the politics, the band brought a strong following with them. The Orbit Room had a line waiting outside earlier than an hour before doors opened. Once inside, the venue was at least 90 degrees or hotter. Fans in the crowd were drenched in sweat. The stench of body odor lingered in the air all evening.

Vocalist Tim McIlrath says, “You can really tell who gives a sh*t about your band when they’ll be here for something like this.”

 “This is our 10th time seeing them,” Derrick Smith, a fan who traveled from Canada said. “It’s [my wife and I’s] one-year wedding anniversary. We’re following them from today’s show to their New York show to celebrate.”

Smith and his wife were just a couple of the fans in the packed venue that night. Rise Against performed an energetic set that conveyed the liberal political messages they aim to pass along. The set included themes of anti-war and anti-violence as well as the need to take action to help those suffering. The tour will continue through the fall across North America.




Source List

Brad LaPlante. Brad is a music commentator who is based in Michigan.

Alex Deherder  Alex is a fan who attended the show at The Orbit Room.

Robert Sherman (734) 771-6937 Robert is the photographer working for Rise Against for the Grand Rapids date.

Derrick Smith Derrick is a fan from Canada who traveled with his wife to see Rise Against.


Tim McIlrath Tim is the vocalist and front man of the band Rise Against.

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