A Headbanging Evening At the Shrine

By Brandon “B-Mac” McCarthy Photos by Matt “Rabit” Martinez Red Hare Images

I have never been to the Shrine Auditorium. It is an iconic large indoor theater that is located on the campus of the University of Southern California (USC). Built around 1925, the Shrine is known for hosting concert events as well as award show ceremonies. Some of the award shows included the MTV Video Music Awards, the American Music Awards, and the Academy Awards. There is a lot of history at the Shrine Auditorium; one could say a very alluring fact. Matt Martinez and I decided to cruise down there, and listen to a night of metalcore and hardcore punk. Of Mice & Men and Rise Against stopped on by to bring Los Angeles, Calif. rock ‘n’ roll glory. As soon as we arrived, we were amazed by the size of the place, its architecture, and sound quality. The place was packed with punk rockers and metalheads, ready to commingle with rock debauchery.

The first band to hit the stage was Plague Vendor. We caught the end of their set and did not have a chance to really soak in their sound. However, Rise Against saw something in this band, and I’m sure the crowd did as well. Next up was Of Mice & Men, originating from the area of Costa Mesa, Calif. The group recently departed from their screamer of a vocalist, Austin Carlile, due to his health issues, so I was unsure on just how well they would carry on. As soon as bassist/vocalist Aaron Pauley sang that first pitch, I was astonished by his range. Not only could he roar, he could also bring the melody he is known for in the band. Pauley drove in those bass lines that shook the whole auditorium.. Lead guitarist Phil Manansala and rhythm player Alan Ashby ripped through each song with some cold-ass riffs. From “Never Give Up” to “Bones Exposed,” Of Mice & Men launched the audience into a foaming frenzy. They recently released the album, Cold World, and only played the only song that mattered to them, “Pain.” The group even played the two new songs they wrote without Carlile, entitled “Back To Me” and “Unbreakable.” They both sounded great live. It was weird not seeing Carlile up there, but Pauley stepped up and held his own, showing his diversity as an artist. Of Mice & Men is his band now, and they are much stronger for it, inciting anticipation for what they will come out with in the future.

Full Of Mice & Men Slideshow Below:

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The headlining act Rise Against took to the stage next. I will be honest, I was not all that to familiar with them. I was intrigued to find out why they are such a huge deal to the rock community. They injected a huge size of liveliness to the fans with their straight edge attitude. Frontman/guitarist Tim McIlrath has a solid voice that delivers a punch to the gut. He has a way of connecting with the fans, and brings his brand of punk to the masses. With songs like “Hero of War” and “Satellite,” he brings a message of equality and justice. Lead guitarist Zach Blair was blaring out outrageous licks that scream throughout the room. Drummer Brandon Barnes and bassist Joe Principe were a raging pair, inducing the fans with banging rhythms that helped create the “walls of death.” Rise Against released their newest effort, Wolves, earlier this year and the fans have fully and happily embraced the songs “The Violence,” “Welcome to the Breakdown,” and “Wolves.” They are politically influenced, leaning toward the left-wing. I may not necessarily agree with some of their viewpoints, but I cannot deny that they make their point. They ended the night with a two song encore, “Make It Stop (September’s Children)” and “Savior.” The fans were rejoiced with euphoric appreciation.

Full Rise Against Slideshow Below:

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The night came to an end, and the room was so hot from all that dancing and mosh-pitting. Of Mice & Men exceeded all of my expectations, and Rise Against was better than I anticipated. Each band rocked not only the Shrine Auditorium to the core, but also each fan in attendance. There was so much mosh-pitting and crowd surfing. This was one of those nights where punk and metal came together, and the fans exploded with fury. That familiar mix of sweat and beer wafted around, on the air of that memorable venue; much like how the energy, that also filled that space, assaulted each fan. Martinez and I were in a rock ‘n’ roll Mecca, and we will return to the promise land very soon. To Of Mice & Men and Rise Against, we salute you. Horns up!!!

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