Wednesday, June 08, 2005

bad religion 6/7/2005 - house of blues, san diego

As I was standing in line outside of the sparkling new House of Blues in downtown San Diego, a promoter walked past the line handing out fliers for an upcoming concert. A young kid in an AC/DC shirt (not Butthead) took one and scanned the line-up with his blond friend (not Bevis). "The Circle Jerks??? Oh yeah, that's a great band name! I really want to go to that concert! Ha ha ha..." Thus the perils of an all ages show...

Tuesday night ushered in the final night of Bad Religion's four night stand in San Diego. It also was a CD release party of sorts for the opening act, Death By Stereo. Supported by Bad Religion's home brewed Epitaph label, Death By Stereo was welcomed with open arms by many in the crowd. Efrem Schulz, their Glenn Danzig-meets-Coby Dick (Papa Roach) frontman screamed, growled, and sang his way through a powerful punk-metal set.

They effectively mixed metal riffs with punk rock structures, jumping back and forth between styles with ease. Some of their choreographed stage moves were a tad cheesy, but the band was professional and well rehearsed. One thing that did distract me was Shulz's excessively serious stage bravado. The man takes himself way too seriously. His demands for the audience to display 'the horns' and middle fingers went largely ignored (in my intoxicated section anyway).

Bad Regilion took the stage and changed the mood for the night immediately. They replaced the seriousness and attitude of the opener with jokes, laugher, and positive energy. Here was a veteran group of punk-rockers who didn't need to impress anyone or earn respect. This gave their set a warm, loose, and intimate feel. Singer Greg Graffin chanted into the mic like a street politician. In between songs, he and the band bantered freely with the audience and even took friendly jabs at Death By Stereo. Flanking Graffin throughout the night were punk legends Greg Heston (Circle Jerks) and Brian Baker (Minor Threat). Bassist Jay Bentley squinted and grinned all night, looking like a stoned Dave Grohl while battling allergies.

They plowed through classics like 'Anethesia', 'Suffer', '21st Century Digital Boy', 'Infected', and the ancient 'Fuck Armageddon...This Is Hell'. The show was paced remarkably well, with Bad Religion playing three songs in a row, then breaking to talk. This strategy kept the energy flowing and interest peaked. The band also delivered newer gems from their latest release, The Empire Strikes First. Sing-alongs went hand in hand with waving fists and thrashing bodies. The old-school punks felt young again, and the young kids received a rock-n-roll lesson. And as the encore came to a thundering halt, it seemed that no one left unfulfilled. Based on the crowd response, I'm surprised they didn't book 4 more nights in San Diego. But with multiple nights ahead of them in Anaheim and LA, I guess they had places to go, and people to teach...


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