“Too old” is a state of mind. I am certain of this as I wake up fairly bright and reasonably early, my eye makeup still quite intact (thank you, Rimmel; sorry, bunnies) after my first legit punk show.
And if there is a punk band that can be called legit, it’s Bad Religion. They’ve been rocking out since I was a newborn (which feels like a seriously long time to rock) and aside from their own music, they started the Epitaph label, which put out Offspring’s Smash album, which remains the biggest selling indie album of all time. No small feat. And while I heard some rumours and concerns through the crowd that this may be their last tour, their energy shows no signs of waning, and that shit is frankly admirable.
T-shirt spotting is rarely so good: from Megadeth to Sonic Youth, everyone was repping someone (not least of all Bad Religion themselves, through generations of cotton) and it spoke to the eclectic array of peeps who can suddenly find themselves punks by association.
I’m sure there’s a venn diagram on this that proves punk is a wild wonderful middle ground. Shoutout to the guy who amid the band merch was rocking a Be The Change shirt; that makes my venn diagram even prettier.
First up was Polar Bear Club, who were fun, energetic, a little sloppy, but uh, I don’t really mind in that context. Dude can jump about as high as he is tall, while screaming and that’s a pretty decent way to get a night rolling.
Next up, The Bronx, who I’d never heard of, but hope to hear and see more of asap. Tight, steady, bouncy, there were times it seemed so clean I was surprised it was live, to be honest.
I went in hopeful that the Bad Religion dudes had found us a new treasure for an opening act and these were the guys (though they formed back in 2002). Even my Official Music Man (in his Death tee) was digging ‘em, further proof of the awesome crossover given our often disparate taste in tunes, so I’ll be tracking these dudes tour dates and strongly suggest you do the same. Their latest album is The Bronx (IV), but seriously: see them live.
By 10pm we’re eager, waiting with bated breath, our impatience stoked by the HOLY SHIT big crowd that is just coming and coming and leaving me happy as can be that we lost our place on the floor and have instead staked out spots by the bar, because it’s oppressively hot and personal space stopped a long time ago. I love a crowd…outside. Here, we’re breathing 90% humidity comprised of the well earned sweat of engaged fans and probably some of the beer that guy who was tripping balls sprayed from his mouth into the air like he was about to do a fire breathing trick. We’re comparing which parts of us are covered in various spilled things and trying to ascertain the last time we’ve seen the Metropolis so very packed and jumping.
Personally, I haven’t seen so much moshing, crowd surfing and random flying things in near 20 years (gah…maybe I’m doing it wrong) and when frontman Greg Graffin said it’d been awhile since they’d been here, but it looked like we hadn’t changed at all, he was dead on. In fact, I told myself repeatedly that it was only the heat that kept me from struggling through the crowd to surf it (which I haven’t done since Sloan at the Spectrum circa 1994) because here we were timeless, the energy infectious, the night perfectly old school. They played their new offerings from their latest True North, and I can say they sounded like the old in the exact way I like it: they sound undeniably like Bad Religion songs and really, isn’t that what we want in the bands we dig?
I wasn’t the only one whose inner teenager was waiting for a couple of specific classics and it’s no surprise that 21st Century Digital Boy brought the house down. Thrilled though I was, I have a sneaking suspicion that few had the epic time that Mr. Tripping Balls of the Beer Spray had as he kneeled by the bar, basking in the music on the verge of tears. He may have saved some drugs from the 90s as well. We all probably should’ve licked him.
At more than a few shows, dude would’ve gotten into a fist fight between the two opening acts, but here, he was cared for, a safe ride home was confirmed and space was given. It went even further to impress me, as I had already decided this was the warmest, friendliest crowd in a far too long while. Smiles were abundant, conversation at the ready.
While out catching some much needed air, my Bestie and I had a shared gut feeling and rushed back inside in time to catch most of Sorrow, which, had we missed it, would’ve made for much angsty pouting and some unbecoming whining.
I may have headbanged a little. To Bad Religion. Live. Just saying.
We left after that, which I never do, but it was like breathing fog in there and I couldn’t fathom waiting in a coat check line if we didn’t beat the crowd. Outside, drenched in sweat and beer, it was clear we weren’t the only ones who’d had the thought and the place seemed to empty out pretty quickly.
I fell asleep with my ears happily buzzing, and awoke with the soft aches and sore throat of a concert properly done. This was the 10th show of Bad Religion’s world tour which comprises over 100 dates and I expect their last will be as energetic and great as their first.
So please, for the love of all that is cool and holy, the next time you feel too old for something, anything, look to Bad Religion, put your punk face on and crank up your life.