Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Windmills Do Not Work That Way

"Windmills do not work that way! Good night!" has become the stock phrase in my house to indicate that someone is just not getting it.

I wanted to chant it last night at the Rise Against show at the Electric Factory. Of course, no one would have heard me over the loud chants of "USA! USA!"

It was baffling as Tim McIlrath changed guitars and in that silence people began their ridiculous chant. He addressed it saying that he had intended to speak about it after one more song, but he'd do it now. He said he gets that we can breathe a collective sigh of relief, but now we have to take all of that energy and emotion and channel it into bringing the troops home.

He was greeted with more "USA! USA!" Now maybe I was projecting a bit here, but when I saw him bring his palm to his forehead and wipe it down the front of his face, I could have sworn I saw disbelief.

Rise Against went on to play whatever it was that was on the set list before getting to play "Hero of War."

I don't listen to this song often. Say what you will, but it makes me tear up on a good day. It was satisfying to hear it live, though.

It was awful to hear the now-familiar chant, "USA! USA!" when it ended.

I don't have a problem with patriotism, but this isn't the goddamned Superbowl. To distill such a complex series of events to a stupid half-time chant is beyond ignorant and a Rise Against concert is really one of the most innappropriate places to break your arm patting yourself on the back for being a citizen of a country that got its revenge.

So is a vegan blog the appropriate place to complain about this? Of course it is.

Another huge disconnect occurred when McIlrath dedicated "Ready to Fall" to those who speak for "the voiceless" - for the animals. The crowd was mostly silent and some even booed when he said it, but not a single person held still when he started the song. It was like a moonbounce up in there with people jumping around, and no one held back from shouting "Now I'm standing on the rooftop" each time.

(I went with Vevo to get the video, even though this one is censored. If you want to have a terrible day, watch the more graphic version here. I've already done it, so you won't be alone.)

All in all, it was a good show and I'm glad I went. And I do hope that all those kids who memorized every lyric eventually start to think about those lyrics and make changes in how they engage with the world around them. I'm grateful that there are bands who use their music to promote social justice and to bring awareness to the sad state of so many things. I just hope that people start listening.


  1. I went to the Rise Against show here in Boston last weekend! Luckily it was before the Osama incident so there wasn't any excessive patriotic shouting. And the crowd went eerily silent when he played Hero of War. Rise Against is an amazing band and I agree that the kids should really pay attention to all the lyrics they sing so loudly and proudly to really get the message in the music. Hopefully it will make them think...

  2. Complaints aside, it was a really awesome show. People have to hear messages over and over again sometimes, so I'm hoping that this might be some of the groundwork that's needed. The mind often needs primed for new information.

    Glad your experience was awesome too!