by Karina Schultheis

There was a lot of screaming, yelling, and fist-pumping on Super Bowl Sunday — but fans at the Patriot Center weren’t losing their mind cheering for the Giants or the Patriots — they were screaming for the rock band, Rise Against.

Ending their 46-city tour, the band’s four-hour concertĀ kicked off with up-and-coming band The Menzingers, an energetic group of four young men with impressive musical abilities. They put on a fantastic performance and their song lyrics were incredibly mature for a group that looked too young to even buy a beer at their own show.

Next came A Day to Remember, who did not rely on their already-popular hard rock songs to make the crowd cheer. They rallied the stadium by jumping wildly on (and off) stage, dropping thousands of balloons from the ceiling, and throwing beach balls and toilet paper into the audience. At one point, as a way to get the fans in the seats as energetic as those on the floor, lead singer Jeremy McKinnon told all of the men in the audience to take off their shirts and swing them ’round. Half-naked, screaming men quickly took over theĀ  Patriot Center.

Despite the popularity of ADTR, there was palpable anticipation in the auditorium as the minutes ticked closer to Rise Against’s performance. The band certainly did not disappoint, playing favorites from the past decade including “Swing Life Away” (circa 2005), “Prayer of the Refugee” and “Ready to Fall.” Of course, they also threw in an assortment of songs off their new album “Endgame” during their two and a half hour set.

youtube] Rise Against’s powerful song lyrics and energetic guitar solos have kept them on the top of music charts since their 2001 signing. However, the band also sets itself apart from other rock bands by their insistence on making social and political statements, most notably their disapproval of the war. Many of their songs have clear anti-war and anti-discrimination messages disguised as Top 40 chart-toppers. An entire segment of their website is dedicated to activism.

During the concert, four LED screens onstage flashed images of Occupy Wall Street camps, faces from many different nationalities, and children wrapped in the American flag. Main singer Tim McIlrath shouted out to representatives from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), who were present and handing out literature after the show.

Some of these messages might have been lost on part of the audience, which included masses of middle- and high-school students (as well as a sprinkling of parents with earplugs). They might not have even recognized the videos and photos as being from Occupy Wall Street, or if they did, have a working knowledge of what the movement is about. What these fans did recognize, however, were the lyrics to all the songs and the names of the artists as “Marry me, Tim!” signs waved in the air.

The night completed with a setlist of four acoustical songs and a 15-minute encore performance. Surveying the faces of the audience as people piled out of the auditorium and into the streets, it looked as if the only people who were not enjoying their night were the people about to clean up after it.

There was a lot of balloons and toilet paper to be dealt with, after all.