Scenes From Last Night's Bad Religion Show at the House of Blues.
There was no South by Southwest envy in Dallas last night. Not at the House of Blues, at least.
There, the iconic San Fernando Valley punk band Bad Religion had come to offer up to a room of dedicated fans the same notorious anti-authoritarian, political and religious tunes that they've been playing for over 30 years now — some serious music, if ever there was any.
It's been a long road, to be sure, for this band. Three decades ago, back when lead Bad Religion vocalist Greg Graffin was a teenager, he'd dreamed of singing in a band. Just a few years ago, he openly celebrated this fact, publishing his first book, Anarchy Evolution: Faith, Science, and Bad Religion.
Last night, his fans celebrated in kind. They came dressed dark neutrals and denim, a number of them, even in their older age, sporting glued-up mohawks and well-worn, patched-up denim vests. But it wasn't just old fans in attendance; in one corner of the House of Blues space, one young fan clutched Graffin's book in his hands, telling anyone who'd come near him that his only goal for the night was to have Graffin sign his copy.
Indeed, hard as this crowd may have looked, it was mostly an intellectual, reverential, kind group. There was some crowdsurfing and light moshing — but nothing too crazy. This was a crowd intent on minding their manners and letting those around them enjoy the show, too. Surely, that had something to do with Graffin's politics on mankind: “Faith in your partner, your fellow men, your friends, is very important, because without it there's no mutual component to your relationship, and relationships are important.”
Still, when Bad Religion took to the stage, the crowd palpably buzzed with excitement. For some, it was their first chance to see the band play. For others, it was a reminder of days once lived. And, for seemingly all, it was a chance of a lifetime.
The band played a good bit of their most popular hits, including “Generator,” and the audience screamed and sang along. Fists were thrust in the air. It was like a group bonding moment — between audience member and audience member and, yes, even the band, too.
It was a damn good night. And, even though Against Me had to cancel their appearance on this tour, the other opening bands did well with the opportunity they'd been given. Opening act Polar Bear Club truly played a pivotal role in this show, too: Bad Religion drummer Brooks Wackerman couldn't make last night's show due to a death in his family, so Polar Bear Club drummer Steve Port sat in. And, feverishly, he hit every beat.
Earlier, before Bad Religion took to the stage, Polar Bear Club also scored high marks, performing before a hyped-up the crowd. Vocalist Jimmy Stadt was like a ninja on stage; he high-kicked and did the splits in the air and jumped around like a madman. He wasn't mad, he was illustrating every note played by his band. Almost every kick, snare, riff and chord could be seen through Stadt's movement. And, after each song ended, Stadt gave the audience a double-thumbs up.
At one point, he even told the fans he had “made a note to thank the audience a lot,” and that he was grateful for their earnestness in showing up to see “five weirdos from Western New York.”
It was a nice moment there int he packed venue. No, the bars in the room maybe didn't do so well — there were undoubtedly quite a few straight-edge attendees — but the bands sure did.
And, without a doubt, by night's end, everyone left fully satisfied.