Monday, May 7, 2012

Bad Brains Keep Sailin' On at Paradise

There are a handful of punk bands that I still listen to consistently. It's been awhile since I had closely followed the hardcore punk scene but I still find myself going back to the early albums from Bad Brains. I never thought I would actually have the chance to see them perform. When I heard that they would appear at Paradise Rock Club on April 16th, I knew it would be one of the year's must-see performances. The show sold out almost immediately after tickets went on sale, but I was lucky enough to snag one. Thirty-some years after their formation, Bad Brains showed an audience at Paradise why they are still one of the most talked about hardcore punk bands.

Posicore legends H2O opened the show with all the energy I had hoped for. Singer Toby Morse led the charge and dedicated their performance to Ian MacKaye (Fugazi). The band even snuck a cover of "Waiting Room" into their set. The crowd had no problem keeping up with snappy punk tunes like "Nothing to Prove" and "Guilty by Associaion", adding their vocals to the anthemic gang choruses. Toby was constantly engaging the crowd. He asked if their were any parents in the pit and even came out into the audience and sang in the middle of a rowdy circle pit.

H20 are not ones to shy away from social commentary. Many of their songs talk about the importance of family, friends, and integrity. The sincerity of their message came through with the passion they emitted during performances of songs like "Family Tree". There was even a touching moment when they brought out a friend who had recovered from a heart attack and a stroke, and revealed that it was his first concert since getting out of the hospital. They then went on to play "One Life, One Chance" in his honor.

Bad Brains took the stage and wasted no time firing through some of their most infamous punk rock numbers like "Attitude" and "Sailin' On". Frontman H.R. was much more understated than I was expecting given his legendary stage antics. He had a humble presence that found him smiling while the group generated a raucous torrent of punk that overtook the crowd. Their set focused on songs from their peak and had a welcome juxtaposition of reggae with punk. The reggae jams were used to simmer the crowd after boiling them to a frothy frenzy with blasts of hardcore punk.

There was no shortage of emotion surging from the crowd. I even spent a great deal of the concert thrashing around on the floor with the other heathens looking to celebrate seeing one of punk rock's more important bands. A telling moment was when bassist Darryl Jenifer introduced the group as a new band from Washington, D.C. It demonstrated that they don't see themselves as old men trying to recapture their heyday. They still have the youthful energy that made them so alluring in the first place. It was plain to see from their performance why they were able to have such a profound affect on hardcore punk, and really, music in general.

If you want to learn more about Bad Brains, The Boston Phoenix has an interview posted with guitarist Dr. Know that is a great read.

Right Brigade
Sailin' On
The Regulator
Jah Love
Give Thanks and Praises
Universal Peace
I & I Survive
Banned in D.C.
Soul Craft
I Luv I Jah
At the Movies
Pay To Cum

I Against I
Jah People Make the World Go Round

1 comment:

  1. I really wish I could've watch Bad Brains perform my fav songs like Regulator or Banned in DC.

    I heard HR doesn't move on stage though.