Fans of old school, live punk shows were not disappointed Tuesday night at the Commodore Ballroom. Bad Religion practically tore the roof off as the Commodore proved yet again to be one of, if not the best live venue in town.
Opening act Plague Vendor came out and warmed up the packed house, revving up the ready, young front of the crowd. The mosh pit fired up and the older, back of the crowd watched with admiration at their gusto. It was like a reverse mullet – crazy party in the front and sensible rocking out in the back.
When Bad Religion came out and started ripping, the party kept pace and neither really stopped all night. I mean the band actually stopped for about two total minutes once they started, including water breaks and pre encore. There were several 3-4 straight song, almost medleys. I’m pretty sure drummer Brooks’ middle name must be Red Bull – he’s like a buck fifty of pure drumming energy. They even changed a snare drum and a guitar mid song, without missing a beat. The raucous, devoted faithful seemed to appreciate the tempo and the unbelievable energy, as they paid both back in full.
The professor of punk, Greg Graffin, was lecturing from the stage at the Commodore, whose sound and energy were perfect for Greg and the boys. Oh, and I mean professor literally. He’s an actual PhD whose dissertation was on Evolutionary Biology and he’s taught at UCLA and Cornell. This man’s intelligence comes out in his lyrics and Bad Religion’s anti-establishment stance comes out in every verse of every song. That’s where the fans really buy in; they connect on a deep level with Bad Religion’s politics and outspoken stance on most of the world’s evils.
The crowd was an awesome mix: I saw no real violence, even in the depths of the pit. Instead, lots of fist bumps and bro hugs. There were biker-looking dudes hanging with young kids with coloured mohawks and young, clean cut dudes hanging with older, balder guys that look not -surprisingly like Greg. Not surprising, given that Greg formed Bad Religion in 1980 – they’ve been at it 35 years. That’s why they have such a diverse and devoted fan base.
Some of their fans have been there from the start, and those that didn’t, picked it up later like a vice. How else do you explain the 37 year old guy who looks like Steve from your office who knows every word to every song? Maybe it’s not possible to be a not hard-core fan…I know for sure there weren’t any there on Tuesday night. The band didn’t even play arguably a couple of their biggest hits and I don’t think anyone cared at all. The encore was never in doubt and at the end of the night, the crowd had their punk needs fulfilled, clearly evidenced by the grinning, sweaty masses exiting after midnight.
Thank you, Bad Religion, for 35 years of thoughtful, angry dissent in the form of music.
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written by Chris van Staalduinen