Rise Against - Another Station: Another Mile Review
Posted by Alex Watt on 10.23.2010
The Chicagoan Punk-Rockers release their second DVD whilst fans await their eagerly anticipated 2011 studio release. But can Another Station… rise to the challenge and capture the raw power of a Rise Against live performance? 411's Alex Watt investigates…
From House of Blues, Boston. July 28, 2009
Collapse (Post-Amerika) The Dirt Whispered Savior Hero Of War
From the MuchMusic Video Awards, Toronto, Canada. June 21, 2009
Audience Of One
From Lollapalooza Grant Park, Chicago. August 8, 2009
Survive The Good Left Undone Prayer Of The Refugee
From Area 4 Festival, Ludinghausen, Germany. August 22, 2009
Blood Red White & Blue Long Forgotten Sons Give It All Re-Education Through Labour
From Keleti Railway Station, Budapest, Hungary. June 21, 2010
Swing Life Away
From Rock Am Ring, Nurburging Racetrack, Germany. June 6, 2010
Ready To Fall
As a big, but relatively recent, fan of Rise Against I was hugely excited for their latest DVD release. Since I have never had the opportunity to witness the band in a live setting I was excited to see some footage, particularly since the Chicagoan Punks are widely considered to be one of the best live bands on the circuit today. Also welcome, was the promise of behind the scenes footage showing the band writing their most recent album, Appeal To Reason.
The feature begins with an on screen, written announcement from the band;
“Since we put together our last DVD, the snowball that is Rise Against is still gathering size and speed. What you hold in your hands is the continuing story of our band, what it means to us, and what it means to people like you. At our request, all the live footage you see in the DVD is completely unedited; meaning we didn’t go back and fix or re-do anything. We felt it should stand or fall on its own merit, and be embraced for what it is, which is live music. Who knows, maybe we’ll feel differently next year. But for now, the moments are captured raw as we make our way to another station: another mile.”
The DVD then starts properly by showing Rise Against rehearsing at the Metro studios in Chicago. They discuss the rehearsal space, its history and the legend that the place is haunted. From there we hear the frantic opening chords of Collapse (Post-Amerika) and the feature cuts to the first live performance of the DVD. The band storm onto the stage with an inverted US flag on the wall behind them; an obvious but nevertheless perfect image for a Rise Against performance to open with. Immediately the energy of the band and the connection with their fans is on show for all to see. Clear too, is the fact that the live recordings have not been tampered with; the performances are raw (but still fantastic) just as the disclaimer promised. A good start which is maintained throughout the DVD; all the live performances are brilliant.
The DVD has short features focusing on each of the band members, including new guitarist Zach Blair, which are all fun viewing but the strongest aspect of the documentary section of the feature is the footage of Rise Against during the song writing process. Seeing first hand how Rise Against come up with new songs is fascinating to witness, particularly how vocalist Tim Mcllrath sings the melody with “nonsense words” so he can get a feel of the song before he writes the lyrics. This segment focuses particularly on how the band constructed the song Savior, with Tim noting how he always sang the lyric “I don’t hate you” even though he had no idea what the rest of the lyrics would be. The live performance of Savior, which follows this, is one of the standout live performances on Another Station…
Another highlight is the stunning performance of Hero Of War, played largely on acoustic guitars by Tim and Zach, with the bass and drums coming in for an epic ending. Tim then discusses the song and its lyrics and how he felt someone needed to write a song about this subject. On the controversy of the song, (it’s written about a Soldier’s experience in Iraq) he remarks “Hero Of War is an honest song about things that really happened. If you have a problem with Hero of War then you have a problem with the truth. And if you have a problem with the truth, you’re going to have a lot of problems with Rise Against.” In this critic’s opinion, Tim Mcllrath’s lyrics are some of the most powerful in music, so hearing him talk about writing them and what they mean to him is an important part of this DVD.
There is some fun behind the scenes footage (although not as much as there could have been), the highlights of which are the band meeting Anthrax and gushing about how much they love them and a hilarious anecdote from Alexisonfire frontman, George Pettit. The most significant part of the backstage footage, however, is the segment introducing the various members of the Rise Against road crew and technicians. That the band singled out each of the people that help them to create their live stage show, illustrates the kind of guys that Rise Against are.
A really interesting addition is a performance of the acoustic Swing Life Away filmed in and around Keleti Railway Station in Budapest. Tim Mcllrath in the guise of a busking musician plays the ballad in various parts of the station, including on a train. This is not only really well performed but also beautifully filmed; the juxtaposition of the slow, meaningful track with the hustle and bustle of everyday life is perfect.
The documentary segments of the DVD give a good insight into the band and the people behind the songs. It was particularly nice to see how down to earth and funny the four band members are, and how much they enjoy making music. There is always a worry with a band like this that they would be angry and constantly shoving their political beliefs in the viewers’ faces, but Rise Against are very much the opposite. Indeed, in terms of the politics of the DVD I was pleasantly surprised at how little mention there was of the issues that Rise Against’s music is a reaction against. There is a small section on the politics of the band and their work for animal rights and discussion of the controversial Hero Of War but other than this the DVD steers clear of such topics. This, for the most part, is a positive and will allow anyone to enjoy Another Station… without the worry of being bombarded by liberal propaganda. On a personal note, however, I was slightly disappointed that there was no discussion of the Bush Administration, since the majority of Rise Against’s work has been an outcry against the former US President and his policies, and so it would have been nice to get a short soundbite from the band members on their thoughts on this topic.
The live footage on the DVD is all fantastic and shows the power that Rise Against have in a live setting. Yes it’s raw and unpolished but that’s what seeing a live band is all about. What shines through, in particular, is how tight the band are in their playing, as well as (as with any Rise Against release) how intelligent and poetic Tim’s lyrics are. This release cements the band as one of the best live bands around today and the majority of the band’s big songs are included on the DVD (although I was surprised Paper Wings didn’t have a showing), so any fan of Rise Against will be satisfied. Nevertheless, the band have such an extensive back catalogue of brilliant music at this stage of their career that it still seems like a relatively small amount of live footage. Indeed, for their next DVD I sincerely hope that we will be given an entire live show recording from Rise Against.
The 411: This is a quality DVD offering from the leaders of the modern Punk movement. All the live footage is fantastic and the documentary segments sandwiched between the live tracks give a good insight into the band and the process of song writing. For fans of Rise Against this is an essential addition to your collection. For those who are new to the band’s work this would be a great starting point, as it showcases some of the band’s strongest songs in a live setting and touches on the motivations behind what they do for a living.