April 10 at The Fillmore, it was a punk’s night out.
By Tim Hinely
I completely missed openers The Polar Bear Club (the pride of Rochester, NY) and only caught the last third of the Bronx but what I did hear them showed a band with good chops and a solid sense of melody. Towards the end my pal Jim turned to me and stated, regarding the singer, “the dude sounds like Bon Scott (the late AC/DC singer) to which I had to agree. The Bronx are worth showing up early for.
The clock struck 9:30 PM and out came one of Los Angeles’ longest running (and hardest working) unit Bad Religion. I’ve seen these guys many times before but still, there’s always that sense of excitement and anticipation when these guys play and if the Fillmore wasn’t sold out on this night it was close to it. On this night they were a 5-piece (no Brett Gurewitz, who I guess doesn’t tour, but does occasionally play shows with them, probably in Los Angeles) still longtime members are among the best. Bouncy bassist Jay Bentley (also doin’ the oozin’ ahhhs) , guitarists Brian Baker (former Minor Threat/Dag Nasty legend who is among the best in the business) and Greg Hetson (the ex-Circle Jerks axeman who still isn’t afraid to jump in the air) and newest member, drummer Brooks Wackerman (who has been in the band for at least a decade) whose drumming is tight and rapid. Last but certainly not least on vocalist is Mr. Greg Graffin, he of too many college degrees to count (and when listening to his lyrics, make sure you have a pocket dictionary on you). These guys, when playing together, have it all down pat.
Opening with a real oldie, “We’re Only Gonna Die” and on from there it was a heady mix of both old and new including “New Dark Ages” (from 2007’s terrific New Maps of Hell), the brand spankin’ new “True North” (and another newbie called “Fuck You”), as well as “Generator,” “Against the Grain” and “Recipe for Hate” (all three from records of the same name), plus “Sinister Rouge” (from 2004’s brilliant The Empire Strikes First) then “Robin Hood Reverse” and “Sorrow.” This crowd was not to be denied encore and indeed they were not as the band came back out and played oldies like “Fuck Armageddon This is Hell” and “Infected.” Not acoustic songs this time (like when I saw then in 2008) but I didn’t mind as they delivered once again and you know what? I’ll be there next time they come to town as well.