Back To The Roots Of Punk With Bad Religion
Photos by Karina Diane Parker
The never-ending debate of what part of the world the best punk rock comes from is quite the ongoing party topic, but in reality its best to just go with the fact that punk rock has a slightly different sound and vibe based on the environment it was created in. On Friday, April 8th at House Of Blues Anaheim, Los Angeles own brand of punk rock, Bad Religion played an appealing SOLD OUT show with a 2 hour set for long time, and new fans alike. Starting off the evening as their support was a band called Slaughterhouse who got a short and sweet 30 minute set. Trekking out to the OC on a Friday in rush hour traffic takes a bit of patience, and when all was said and done, walking into the venue as they played their last song rules out the right for further commentary on them. However, at about 9pm Bad Religion was set to play to a packed to the maximum house.
As some long time patrons of the House Of Blues in Los Angeles and Orange County know, there is no more LA HOB, and this is the second reincarnation of the HOB in Anaheim, as the 1st had to be moved away from Disneyland partly because it was a bit too R rated for their ground rules. Regardless, this night felt so incredibly cramped, and the space they have there is just not well utilized. With the whole upstairs belonging to VIP they waste lots of opportunity for regular ticket goers to get some space to breathe. It felt like the LA Forum crowds at the bars and bathrooms, but the total space is miniscule in comparison. Anyway, the show was actually well received, and the sound, was fairly crisp. The lighting was great, and the space of the stage is definitely ample for multiple band members to move comfortably.
Bad Religion led by vocalist Greg Graffin has been in existence since 1980, but their heyday really came to fruition in the 90’s which influenced bands like The Offspring and NOFX just to name a few. In terms of style they really found a good niche to work under as they pull from all over the map in various punk formats, along with pulling out some riff styles from early rock n’ roll groups. Bad Religion manages to be one of the more pop based punk bands only in their happy go lucky vibe apparent in the actual tunes, but they don’t actually cross the line because of their old school hardcore nature that can even be put side by side with east coast stylings.
The House Of Blues Anaheim was transformed into a happy jam-packed crowd of stoners, skaters, and just old school delighted punk rock fans. While there may be a gigantic difference in attitude, culture, and just basic environment from OC to LA, when gathered in front of a live band all attention goes into the band at hand, as it should. All differences are forgotten, and peace through music is achieved. That was the vibe on this evening, and it was great to watch the band go through so much of their discography. While everyone seemed to enjoy the hits like “Infected,” and “Sorrow,” there were a bunch of other classics to also engage in including “Los Angeles Is Burning,” “Modern Man,” and “Damned To Be Free.” They managed to successfully get through songs from 13 different albums ending the encore with the appropriate tune “Fuck Armageddon….This Is Hell.”
Bad Religion in a humbled semi-unpopular opinion steals the trophy for one of the top most globally relatable punk bands even possibly ranking higher than NOFX. The difference is that Bad Religion encompasses more than just the sounds of the west coast. They bring in flavors from bands like the New York Dolls, as well as dabbles of Bad Brains, and even The Ramones in terms of their use of some of the guitar rhythms. As a five piece on this evening at HOB Anaheim they almost sounded too clean for a punk band, but that’s part of their charm. Much in the way that Dinosaur Jr. can lift an audience’s spirits in a charm filled way due to the nature of the music and lyrics, Bad Religion can do no wrong even when the subject matter is more politically charged – they manage to lighten the heavy load of it all, and much of the doom is dissipated into a cloud of smoke. The bass dancing, guitar riffs, large back drop logo, along with the banter, and presence of the vocalist set the bar high for an overall joyful night. After having a couple tours cancel or cut short during the pandemic, Bad Religion are back on top of the world, so do not disappoint them. Go check them out while they are still out there.
Bad Religion Set List:
Generator | Recipe for Hate | New Dark Ages | Man With a Mission | Supersonic | Los Angeles Is Burning | Struck a Nerve | Suffer | Come Join Us | End of History | Fuck You | Damned to Be Free | Dept. of False Hope | Do What You Want | Modern Man | Slumber | Anesthesia | No Control | Atomic Garden | You | Infected | Sorrow | I Want to Conquer the World | 21st Century (Digital Boy)
Encore: American Jesus | Fuck Armageddon… This Is Hell