Rise Against / Thursday Hamilton Convention Centre, Hamilton ON, December 9

Rise Against / Thursday Hamilton Convention Centre, Hamilton ON, December 9
New Jersey post-hardcore unit Thursday haven't exactly had the easiest career. Despite a relatively high profile for a band just passing their tenth anniversary, theirs is a story fraught with issues, from health concerns to general discontent and misfortune.

While those frustrations evoke empathy from most, hearing singer Geoff Rickly chide the Hammer by stating that, "So many people told me Hamilton smelled like shit. I'm surprised at how great it is here," well, it doesn't exactly find them very endearing. Joke or not, it wasn't funny and the capacity crowd's response of discontent with his comment supported its bad taste. It's not something that should be coming from an opening band, especially during a set marred by guitar issues (forcing a few minutes of stage banter to fill dead time) and overall sound that was little more than rumbling kick drum and Rickly's own falsetto whining.

Regardless, the band's energy was impressive and the largely rough show only served to give headliners Rise Against even more room to shine.

To that extent, the Chicago quartet were duly impressive, irrespective of making up for Thursday's attrition. Growing even tighter and more powerful with each return to the Golden Horseshoe, the band's hardcore-influenced punk rock was spotless, seamless and inspiringly catchy.

Needing no frills, the band were indelibly engaging. Watching singer Tim McIlrath connect to the audience with heartfelt chatter, bassist Joe Principe absorbed in his trademark kick-jumps, drummer Brandon Barnes' tectonic plate-shifting beats and latest guitarist Zach Blair's fiery, possessed bouncing only served to amplify the overall enthusiasm of the evening. Performing a set that perfectly encompassed their five-album legacy - with plenty of nods to latest chart-topper Appeal To Reason - Rise Against easily justified exactly why they are on top of today's punk rock heap.