13 October 2009

An Evening With Bad Religion

It's taken more than a week for me to get my ass onto reviewing this, but as you may know, I WENT TO BAD RELIGION LAST SUNDAY NIGHT! It was at Auckland's Town Hall, where I also saw Serj Tankian perform with the Auckland Philharmonia in March.

There were three openers (yes, for the purpose of this post I will refer to NOFX as openers), including the surprisingly impressive Pour Habit, out of Compton, California. These guys were fun and energetic, and one song was even performed while the vocalist balanced on his head. Yeah, you read that right.

NOFX were as offensive as ever: "I don't mean this in an offensive way, but fuck Peter Jackson" is just one example of this. There were Mexican jokes, German jokes, jokes about Christchurch, jokes about your face. I'm not a huge NOFX fan, nor have I ever been, but they were clearly well-received by the unshowered punk kids who filled the auditorium. Highlight: when they played Reeko, which was the only song I recognised.

It wasn't until a man clad in a black polo shirt and jeans - who I immediately recognised as Greg Graffin - took the stage, that my heart skipped a beat. Yes, kids. I had a moment because I was in the same room as him. You know you're a bit different when a 44-year-old guy from Wisconsin can have that effect on you. Immediately, Bad Religion broke into Los Angeles Is Burning, a song I hadn't heard in too long, since someone (named Sally) stole my copy of "The Empire Strikes First". It was then announced that something was wrong with the guitars - something Greg blamed on the members of Slayer, who were playing the following night. There was a ten-minute interlude during which Greg sat on an amp and bantered. In other words, he made my night.

A prepared-earlier shot of Greg from a show in NJ two years ago

"We'd like to welcome you to an evening with Bad Religion" he announced, once the guitars were sorted. From that moment I don't think the ridiculous grin left my face until he left the stage at the end of the night. To my absolute delight, the final song performed was Sorrow, one of my original favourites, from "The Process Of Belief". Greg announced during the show that his band had been playing shows for nearly 30 years - and that just adds to my admiration for them. That a band can continue to produce socially and culturally relevant music for three decades is just out of control. To that end, songs were performed from all three decades. Another favourite (is it starting to sound like every Bad Religion song ever is my favourite?) Do What You Want, from 1988's "Suffer", Punk Rock Song - which proved a crowd favourite - released in 1996, to songs from the most recent album "New Maps Of Hell" made for a set rich in variety.

My only sticking point? That Materialist wasn't performed, but I quickly got over that. Highlights: the entire set. When Greg dumped Fat Mike on the ground (the NOFX frontman crashed BR's set and jumped on Greg's back partway through a song). As previously mentioned, when Sorrow was played. I like to think Greg sang "will you guide me now, for I can't see..." to me. One more lowlight: when the set finished. I kind of wished it would go on forever. I wish I was still there now.

Being the teeny-bopper I am, I had to get some merchandise. I wanted to make up for not attending their 2007 New Zealand show, and then some. So I bought myself a Bad Religion hoody, which got some weird looks on the plane the other night. I am so far from concerned about my clothing offending people right now, though. Especially considering there were at least 20 metallers donned in Slayer and Megadeth shirts, which in my opinion is far more offensive.

Anyway, I'm a content Bad Religion fan for now. In your face, Donny.

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