Chill on the Hill 2014 Part VI: Chevelle, Awolnation, and Rise Against

While I’m not a regular listener to any of the last three bands to play Chill on the Hill, I was still excited to see their live shows as I had heard great things about all of them. First up was Chevelle, which was probably the band I had the most anticipation for out of the three. While I hadn’t listened to their newest album, La Gargola, all the way through yet, I was certain that I would like it as much as Hats Off to the Bull, if not more. People were running up the side of the hill from Silverstein’s set to catch them before security stepped in and finally forced everyone to follow the path. Everyone was settled in and ready to go by the time Chevelle finally took the large stage, kicking off their set with “An Island”.

The floor was a non-stop ocean of hands bouncing to the beat, only disappearing when the occasional crowd surfer crossed over them. I was feeling pretty worn out before Chevelle took the stage, partially due to the non-stop go of the last two days and partially because, little to my knowledge, I was about to be hit pretty hard with a nasty sinus infection but all that just disappeared. It seemed as if everyone knew every lyric to each song as the amphitheater was filled with a buzz of people singing back the entire time and, as usual, that only made the already stellar performance better.

There was a nice acoustic performance of “The Red”, which is still one of my favorite tracks from the band. “Michigan, you guys surprise me every time we come here,” Pete Loeffler told the crowd as they finished up “The Red”. “Don’t listen to Gene Simmons, rock is not dead and you’re living proof!” The crowd went nuts at these words, throwing everything they had into their dancing, moshing, and crowd surfing as Chevelle closed out their set with “I Get It”. I would not even hesitate to snatch tickets up the next time Chevelle comes into town.

I wasn’t a huge fan of Awolnation when their hit single, “Sail”, hit the airways back in 2011. Still, I gave their album, Megalithic Symphony, a chance and really loved it, even having “Sail” grow on me after a while. Everyone I talked to that had seen them live said that it was a must see show, so I was excited to see what all the fuss was about. I am happy to report that all those people were right, Awolnation knows how to put on a killer show.

The crowd roared with anticipation when the lights went out, growing louder when the electronic voice playing over the speakers said the band’s name as they finally walked onto the stage and jumped immediately into “Guilty Filthy Soul”. “I want everyone to be comfortable,” Aaron Bruno urged the crowd. “You can dance however the fuck you want!” And everyone did, there was not one single person in that amphitheater that I could see that wasn’t up and dancing along. The echo back of the chorus of “Not Your Fault” made it sound like the crowd was ten times bigger than it was.

Bruno went on to announce that the new record was almost done before playing new track which has a pulsating beat that sounds like a twisted version of the castle theme from the original Super Mario Brothers and a emotive scream of a chorus. Even just the small glimpse at the album to come was enough to get me pumped for it. “Kill Your Heroes” was dedicated to the party people on the dance floor along with anyone else who hadn’t been dancing along which, again, turned the floor into just a mass of movement. The last request of Bruno was to get as many ladies crowd surfing as they could and suddenly all the people standing on the floor disappeared as just wave after wave of girls was passed up to the front. While I would have loved to see Taking Back Sunday headline so that I could have gotten a longer set, I was glad that there was Awolnation to put on one hell of a show.

I don’t think I saw one person leave before Rise Against took the stage, unlike the previous night where it seemed that most people came out to see A Day To Remember (you missed out if you didn’t stay for The Offspring). In fact, the floor looked even more packed than it had previously. The band makes their way onto the stage to even more noise than I had heard the rest of the night going right into “Ready to Fall”. Just like the previous two bands, the audience seemed to know every lyric to every song, shouting along at the top of their lungs.

I was reminded of how much I actually like Rise Against as familiar tracks caught my attention and I was able to sing along with the rest of the crowd. One of the best things about Rise Against is that even if you aren’t a fan of their music, you would still love their live show. There’s just so much stage presence and excitement coming from the band that it feels like they are playing the best show of their lives when they’re playing for you. Tim McIlrath seemed quite happy with the crowd’s response stating “Reasons we keep coming back to places like this is all because of you.”

I wasn’t surprised at all when about 80% of the amphitheater shouted in response when McIlrath asked how many people had been to a Rise Against show before. It’s definitely addicting when you experience a live show like that, I had already started thinking of more concerts that I could attend while my adrenaline took over during their set. The guys slowed it down playing “People Live Here” and, my favorite track, “Swing Life Away” acoustically before closing out the show with “Savior”. Usually people start to clear out during the encore so they can get out of the parking lot quicker but that certainly wasn’t the case tonight. No one wanted to miss the end to such an amazing set and, like me, probably didn’t want Chill on the Hill to be over so soon.

I had a great weekend with many of my favorite bands and some new favorites that I would love to see live again. Hopefully next year is just as epic as this year was.

Don’t forget about the rest of our Chill on the Hill coverage:
Part I: Bristol Street, Sleeper Agent, and My Goodness
Part II: Portugal. The Man, Sycamour, Grouplove, and The Bots
Part III: Bad Religion, A Day To Remember, and The Offspring
Part IV: Hollow & Akimbo, Kyng, The Orwells, and Skaters
Part V: Brick + Mortar, USS, Taking Back Sunday, and Silverstein