Photos and Review by Anthony Vito Cosentino
When a tour with the moniker 'Mourning in America' comes around, you can be certain to expect two things from the title alone: politics and emotion. What better way to convey these emotions through music than bringing together three of the most prolific punk rock bands of the last twenty years? Opening the show was Anti-Flag, charging onto the stage with as much energy and as little subtlety as a runaway train. The front man immediately encouraged the formation of a circle pit, and crowd surfers were already making their way toward the stage by the middle of the first song. If you couldn’t tell from the lyrical content of most songs in their setlist, such as “This Is the End (For You My Friend),” “American Attraction,” and “F*ck Police Brutality,” this is a band that is wholly unafraid to get political. They let the crowd know that there is no place for racism, sexism, xenophobia, homophobia, or discrimination of any kind at this punk rock show, and if you don’t agree with that, then you aren’t welcome.
After getting political with Anti-Flag, it was time to get emotional with AFI. As fans eagerly waited for AFI to take the stage, the front row’s chants were insatiable. When they exploded onto the stage, you could feel the passion of every fan that sang the words back to “Girl’s Not Grey,” the opening song of AFI’s set. The front man fed off the energy of the crowd and delivered it right back, jumping high into the air and swinging the microphone stand around at every chance he got. Much less political in nature, AFI’s set was more about connecting to the fans on a deeply personal and emotional level. There was a great mix of hits and deep cuts throughout their set, but when AFI ended their performance with “Miss Murder,” there wasn’t a soul in the audience that didn’t sing along.
Lastly, the band to beautifully merge the political with the emotional, and the band who named the tour after a song from their most recent studio album “Wolves,” Rise Against closed the show with the kind of energy and passion that most bands in their prime can’t even match. Starting off political, Rise Against opened their set with “The Violence,” and the crowd immediately erupted with excitement and wasted no time at all surfing up to the front of the stage. After the second song, the front man took a call from a band member in Pennywise who was at the final Warped Tour, and he shared the call with the crowd – a perfect example of the inclusivity that every fan feels when attending a Rise Against show. Before starting the next song, the front man stated to the crowd “This one’s for all the Survivors out there,” then Rise Against proceeded to play “Survive,” one of the most lyrically meaningful and personally emotional songs of their entire catalog. The rest of the show continued to strike a perfect balance between political and emotional, even during their acoustic songs.
Upon returning to the stage after fake-closing their set with “Savior,” Rise Against treated the crowd to an acoustic rendition of “Voices Off Camera,” a version that was just recorded for their new acoustic album “The Ghost Note Symphonies Vol. 1.” This version reveals the song in a completely different light, trading the punchy aggression of the original for a slow and nearly heartbreaking ambiance that compliments the lyrics even better than the original. Rise Against ended the night with “Prayer of the Refugee,” which was perhaps the most appropriate song to end the show with, especially in today’s political climate. There may be Mourning in Amerika, but on this night, there was celebration at the Stone Pony Summer Stage.