The Hype: Thirty years of punk rock is an outstanding feat. Some bands can barely keep it together for three years, let alone three decades. St. Patrick's Day was a perfect excuse for Bad Religion to celebrate, as they kicked off the first of seven nights at the House of Blues Anaheim.
The Show: The iconic Bad Religion logo loomed large in the background dotted with cover images from their vast discography. As the members emerged from the shadows and gathered their instruments, a flurry of down-stroked power chords in the form of “Do What You Want” crashed like a tidal wave over the audience. Front man Greg Graffin was storming across the stage pointing and effectively acting out his lyrics.
The multiple guitar attack of Brett Gurewitz, Brian Baker and Greg Hetson roared like a triple-headed hydra on tunes like “American Jesus” and “New Dark Ages.” It was impressive that they rolled out “Ten in 2010” from the underrated 1996 album The Grey Race. After collecting a green beaded necklace from the crowd, Graffin explained they get a lot of complaints about songs they don't get a chance to play.
In order to appease these fans, they dusted off the rarely played “Leave Mine To Me” from Stranger Than Fiction. Dipping back into The Grey Race, “Them & Us” had the crowd chanting “We can take them on!” Graffin acknowledged the musical similarities between “Best of You” and “Punk Rock Song” before shrugging it off saying it is only punk rock.
While Bad Religion is from the Valley, Graffin said they wouldn't have existed if there wasn't a scene in Orange County stating that their first gig was in a warehouse in Santa Ana. Graffin told everyone to thank their dad, which cracked up the audience. “Suffer,” “Stranger Than Fiction”, “No Control”, and “I Want To Conquer The World” kept the crowd singing along and the mosh pit swirling.
“21st Century Digital Boy” is lyrically more relevant now compared to when it was written nearly 20 years ago. “Fuck Armageddon,” “Los Angeles is Burning” and “Sorrow” closed out their main set of 24 songs. After a rousing version of “Generator,” Graffin asked the crowd to indulge them as they debuted a new song “Resist-stance” which seemed to be the loudest and fastest song of the whole evening.
If Bad Religion can still write new songs that good, it is not a stretch to think they still have a few more albums in them. Even the highly overplayed KROQ staple “Infected” was tolerable in its live form. With six more shows still to go at the House of Blues Anaheim, there is no reason to miss these punk rock legends in action.
Local favorites Death By Stereo bludgeoned the audience with their thrash metal death punk. Efrem Schulz was up to his usual insane antics jumping into the pit during the second song of their set. Terezodu channeled '80s hardcore for a fast and furious throwback performance.
The Crowd: Punks, drunks, mohawks, beer cans and lots of green were the dominant themes of the evening.
Overheard: Graffin told the audience to sign up on their website in order to get a free album download of live tracks performed during their run at HOB.