On May 5, Akron’s Musica stage celebrated Cinco De Mayo in a new way: with hometown band, Red Sun Rising on stage alongside Kent’s The Outside Voices. With a sold-out crowd of fans of all ages and stages, it was an unforgettable night with one of Akron’s favorite “I knew them when” bands.
Playing a setlist as diverse as the crowd, combining new hits with old favorites, Mike Protich (vocals/guitar), Ryan Williams (lead guitar), Dave McGarry (rhythm guitar/backup vocals), Ricky Miller (bass/backup vocals), and Pat Gerasia (drums) were welcomed home with open arms. Everyone around me seemed to have a personal connection to the band, and I heard a lot of people talking about “the way those boys used to be.”
As it was my first time seeing the band, I found myself feeling swept up in the energy of being present with those who have known the members since their earlier days – an energy that can’t be replicated, for sure. It was a magical moment for the hometown crowd, the band coming home from a long tour to play for their community, and it seemed the crowd didn’t want to miss a beat.
From “Push” and “Clarity,” to “Death Wish” and “Imitation,” Red Sun Rising had the rapt attention of the crowd throughout their entire 13-song set. The combination of Protich’s emotionally-wrought voice with the hauntingly beautiful lyrics left some folks wiping away tears during their cover of Alanis Morissette’s “Uninvited.” Personally, I prefer their version to the original. And it seemed that everyone around me agreed that hearing it live beats the hell out of hearing it on the radio. It was a highlight of the night for me.
Even when their encore, “Emotionless” rang out its final note, it was clear that no one was ready to let the band leave. Equally as clear was the band’s comfort on their local stage, performing for their community, obviously happy to be home. Watching the band interact with the crowd and recognize faces with head nods and winks, it seemed Red Sun Rising did everything they could to make sure those in attendance felt the love.
Red Sun Rising is more than just a band; to all in attendance at Musica that night, they were heroes. Not all heroes wear capes, but that band did something heroic: they reminded us of the importance of humility and respect for your roots. They showcased what happens when talent and passion collide to garner love of support to your community. They may tour the world, see things many of us can only dream of, but that night at Musica, the only thing that mattered was that they were where they wanted to be: home in Akron.
For me, they also did something greater. They impressed upon me the importance of never forgetting where I come from and to support local bands as often as I can. Any band in this area has the potential to achieve what Red Sun Rising has achieved. I, for one, will definitely want to be able to look at a stage, captivated by a band I’ve supported from their humble beginnings, and say, “I knew them when.” Everyone should want to do the same.
Devon Anderson is a writer based out of North Canton, Ohio. She likes long walks to the fridge and silent nights after everyone has gone to bed. When not in front of a stage watching bands, or in behind a keyboard telling you all about the bands, she can be found reading, drinking tea, or at home with her family.