Date: Monday, March 23rd, 2015
Line Up: Bad Religion, OFF!, Rendered Useless
Location: Roseland Theater. Portland, OR
Bad Religion Live @ Roseland Theater. Portland, OR
For those of you who are asking why a reggae/rock magazine is covering Bad Religion, please no more talking, class is in session…
For the first time ever, The Pier was invited to cover renowned Los Angeles punk rockers Bad Religion at the Roseland Theater in Portland, Oregon. Their resume boasts sixteen studio albums, three live albums, countless compilations, and a dedicated following of aging, un-wavered fans. Bad Religion is one of the best-selling punk bands of all time with nearly five million records worldwide over their 30-year existence.
The band just played the Musink Festival in Costa Mesa, CA on March 21st and kicked off the Battle of the Centuries Tour where we were in attendance for their first sold out show with OFF!.
Lead singer Greg Graffin once wrote, “Punk is a reflection of what it means to be human… the personal expression of uniqueness that comes from the experiences of growing up in touch with our human ability to reason and ask questions.” (A Punk Manifesto)
It’s not only Graffin’s Ph.D. that provides us with wise words about our own ability to be unique and independent of social expectations, but his understanding of the amount of genes in the human genome and the practical impossibility for any two people to be exactly the same.
Almost 1,500 unique and overwrought punkers were slated to pack into the Roseland Theater for a night to evoke emotion from our disgruntled youth. To enjoy a performance of the songs that encouraged us to ask questions to help shape the people we would eventually become.
It was a cold, rainy night in The City of Roses and as if the blast of a foghorn echoed across Portland calling upon all aging punks to assemble at the Roseland Theater, droves of weirdo’s formed an enthusiastic line to enter the venue. The sound of OFF! traveled down the stairs from the second story. A line quickly backed up at the bar as the underage attendees stampeded towards the music.
A few drinks were consumed, many stories had been shared, and eventually all 1,500 show-goers were crammed in front of the stage anticipating the punk veterans arrival and the inevitable circle pit that would ensue.
Being the only one behind the barricade pre-show, Photographer Eric Schoep took a couple of shots of the crowd, who posed and yelled for the photo while raising the horns happily in the air. The lights dimmed and Roseland Theater went ape shit.
After opening with “Spirit Shine,” Professor Graffin began the lecture to his eager students who were erupting in cheers, “I don’t know if you can tell or not but we’re getting old. It’s happening right before our eyes.”
Mike Dimkich and Brian Baker awed the crowd with their shredding and speedy guitar work and with the help of bass player Jay Bentley; Bad Religon’s harmonies make it impossible not to sing along. Former drummer for Suicidal Tendencies and substitute for Josh Freese of The Vandals, Brooks Wackerman, took over for his drum instructor Bobby Shayer in 2001 and kept the set tight and at the perfect pace all night.
The charter members of the Epitaph Records family keep social responsibility at the forefront of their message and continued the show with “Kyoto Now”: “It’s a matter of prescience, no, not the science fiction kind. It’s all about ignorance, and greed, and miracles for the blind. The media parading, disjointed politics founded on petrochemical plunder and we’re its hostages.” Perhaps we will one day live in a world where these words hold no meaning. Until then we sing along with fervor and fight for what’s right with punk rock as our protest.
Staying true to form, to the music, and keeping lyrics on point with a valuable message is one of the biggest appeals of Bad Religion. For thirty years their music has not wavered and you can always expect their records to be chalk full of solid music with relevant social commentary.
Everyone has a favorite Bad Religion album and song. All generations sang along to title tracks from three different decades: “No Control” (1989), “Generator” (1992), “Recipe For Hate” (1993), “Stranger Than Fiction” (1994) and “The New America” (2000). There were quite a few tunes from The Process of Belief, an album that would make a solid stand-alone set list.
We noticed one of the security guards in front of the stage singing along as he pulled crowd surfers behind the barricade and sent them on their way. Fists waved, folks sang, and arms shook to and fro. Everyone was in good spirits proving Graffin’s point that punk rock is not about unnecessary violence, its about embracing the differences and uniqueness we all bring to the collective table. I even saw a couple of shakas amongst the metal signs and middle fingers.
Tony, head of security for the Roseland Theater, spoke of the security briefing before the doors opened. “I asked Bad Religion’s tour manager if I should worry about mosh pits. He told me ‘Nah, they’re too old.’” I asked him what he would do if I started a pit in front of him. Tony grinned, “I’d probably join you.”
Their energy on stage doesn’t appear to have altered since the 1980s. If anything, they rock harder and faster. They could have called it quits years ago and continued with their own careers in education and music but something keeps them going. A higher power, perhaps? Come to think of it, I may have seen the Virgin Mary forming from the sweat spot on Graffin’s shirt.
The show could not have ended any better. I’m willing to bet that everyone in attendance would have expected and wanted to hear “The Handshake,” “Do What You Want,” “Generator,” “American Jesus,” and “Infected,” to close out the show. The amount of love and respect fans showed each other proves that the punk scene is still very much alive and unsatisfied with the state of the union.
Although nothing has been confirmed, Greg Graffin and guitarist Brett Gurewitz have already begun to write new material with the hopes of being in the studio later this year. With any luck we will hear a new Bad Religion album by 2016.
Bad Religion Set-List:
1.) Spirit Shine
2.) Supersonic/Prove It/Can’t Stop
3.) Stranger Than Fiction
4.) The New America
5.) Kyoto Now
6.) Fuck You
7.) Dharma and the Bomb
8.) Social Suicide
9.) Recipe For Hate
10.) Hopeless Housewife
12.) Let Them Eat War
13.) 52 Seconds/Heroes and Martyrs
15.) Change of Ideas
16.) Big Bang
17.) No Control
18.) Sometimes I Feel Like
19.) Conquer The World
24.) The Handshake
25.) Do What You Want
27.) American Jesus
29.) Fuck Armageddon
30.) Fields of Mars
Bad Religion Website
Bad Religion Facebook
Epitaph Records Website
Epitaph Records Facebook
Article by: Blake Taylor
Photos by: Eric Schoep
More Photos From The Night…