Venturing on an hour and a half drive, I knew without a doubt that it would be absolutely worth it to witness Rivals’ short, yet incredible set.
The anticipation built as I joined the swarm of eager fans outside the Theatre of Living Arts on South Street in Philly, embracing the excitement that hung in the air.
As luck would have it, the weather gods seemed to be on our side that night. Despite the predicted rain, we were instead greeted with a humid summer night. Though slightly uncomfortable, it was a small price to pay compared to braving the elements while waiting in line.
Approaching the venue, a glimmer of hope flickered within me as I spotted a short line designated for bag checks. Eagerly, I hoped to make it inside before the scheduled 6:30 start time.
However, my hope was swiftly dashed as I soon realized that the line stretched far beyond what I initially perceived. It extended down the block, disappearing from my view around the corner.
Determined not to miss the show, I swiftly acquired my ticket from Willcall and embarked on a brisk walk, bordering on a near run, down the block.
My heart sank as I discovered that the line persisted, extending the entire length of the block and snaking around the corner, seemingly endless.
Despite these initial setbacks, I could feel the anticipation of the crowd and an electric energy building in the air. Plus the line moved pretty quickly.
By the time I made it inside Rivals were taking the crowd by storm with their first opening song. Lead singer Kalie Wolfe was like a blue siren while she strutted and danced on stage.
I had a photo pass so I made a mad dash for the front of the venue. The place was so packed I couldn’t see that far ahead. So I pushed through the crowd excusing myself as I trudged forward until I finally got to the front near the barricade.
I showed my pass to the bouncer and jumped in the photo pit. I got my camera and started taking photos. Standing by the speakers I felt the music pulsating through my body. So I had to take a minute to put in my earplugs.
The rule of the photo pit is you get to take photos for 3 songs and then you have to leave. Luckily, by the time I made it to the photo area Rivals were only on their second song. I spent the next two songs taking photos.
After the third song, I was able to get situated by the side of the stage so I could sit back and take in their set.
The room was packed the crowd fanned out from the stage all the way to the entry doors. I was so excited there was a large crowd there to see the band.
I could spot the fans in the crowd videoing the show and singing along and also saw people who may not know the band but were getting into their music and rocking out.
They also played their newest song “Man Eater” which came out earlier this month. It was something I was excited to hear live.
With such a limited set they did not play many older tracks but I was happy they played “Alkaline” as this was one of my favorites from their 2021 album Sad Looks Pretty On Me.
Despite the limited time they had on stage, this did not stop the band from giving a showstopping performance. In addition to their audacious sound quality, Kalie Wolfe has a compelling stage presence that did not go unnoticed. It is not only for her intense vocal capabilities but also for her ability to command the crowd with her hypnotic and eye-catching dance movements and head-banging.
I was so engrossed in the show that before I knew it they were playing their last song. They ended with the riveting and electrifying “Dark Matter.”
In the past when I’ve gone to concerts there are few people in the crowd until it is time for the headlining band to play. This night was an exception to that. From the onset of the show, there was a huge crowd there in support of the opening bands.
Listening to their music alone is such a force of energy. Live it is even more intense and electrifyingly incredible. It combines electronic elements with rock, metal, and pop for something that really speaks to the listener.
Not only do you get something from the music itself but you top that with sincere and meaningful lyrics that are so evocative. They paint a picture so you feel like you’re right there in the moment.
Aside from the music, the best thing about this band is their dedication to their fanbase. Towards the end of their set, Wolfe said she would be at their merch booth to meet with fans and would be there for three hours if needed.
Even with such a short set, they left a huge impact on the crowd showing how Rivals is definitely a force to be reckoned with.