A trio of punk rock bands with a 20 year gap in age difference treated all the fans to one hell of a show in tropical Cleveland, OH last night at the House Of Blues. Honestly it was one of the highlight shows of the year for me and I left the venue last night beyond satisfied. More on that in a second…
30 years ago, a punk rock band by the name of Bad Religion formed. Seeing how I was only three years old, I had no idea who they were and pretty much had no idea who they were until I was about 12 or 13. I can tell you this, the first time I heard them I became a fan instantly. Intelligent and powerful punk rock was exactly what I was looking for at a young age. I remember I used to take the cassette inserts and read the lyrics and look up the words I could not understand in dictionaries and encyclopedias. I was a punk rock dork.
Just a little over 15 years ago I saw my first Bad Religion show and immediately knew I would love this band for the rest of my life. Seeing them take the stage was one of the most important events in my life as a young punker.
I’ve grown up with this band and I have seen them well over a dozen times. Ask me what my top 5 bands are of all time and Bad Religion will be one of them, if not number one. I guess you would be correct in saying that I kind of like these guys.
Any fan of Bad Religion can agree, they are that amazing.
When Bad Religion posted that they were coming to Cleveland once again I was just as excited as I when I was granted permission by my folks to see them in the mid-nineties. Add Bouncing Souls and Off With Their Heads to the bill, and I was even more pumped to be at the show.
When I arrived to the House Of Blues, the place was already crowded and Off With Their Heads were already rocking through their set. From what I heard, they sounded good. The crowd was getting a kick out of them too as they just pushed through their 30 minute set.
New Jersey heroes The Bouncing Souls took the stage to their adoring fans and blew threw a fun set including old and new tunes. The foursome was impressed with Cleveland on a Tuesday night and did their best to keep the excitement overflowing. They sounded better live this time as they played “True Believer”, “Lean on Sheena”, “Gasoline” and a hilarious screw up of “East Coast! Fuck You!” that had lead singer Greg Attontio on his knees laughing his ass off while the crowd took over vocal duties for him.
The band was all smiles on stage and I would have to assume much more excited to not be playing a Warped Tour. Having seen them earlier this summer at the 100 degree nightmare of a festival, not only did the band look more comfortable this round, but there was also twice as many fans packed at the venue to see them.
Finally the punk rock godfathers most had gathered to see, Bad Religion, took their rightful place on stage to what looked like an almost sold out crowd. Pacing the stage, the band took in their well deserved applauds from their fans of all ages. Without hesitation the band ripped into “Do What You Want” and the place went insane.
Rather than focusing on their recently released album The Dissent Of Man, the band played select tracks from their 30 year catalog including “Only Gonna Die”, “Conquer The World”, and “A Walk”. They sounded better than ever to my ears and seemed focused on only one thing – playing the best show that they could for their fans.
In between a couple of songs Greg Graffin talked about their 30 year career and at one time said “when you’ve been in a band for 30 years, every night could be our last show.” Graffin also recalled the first time Bad Religion played Cleveland in the 80’s at some place called Peabody’s.
It was evident that the band was aging, well not Greg Hetson, but the others showed signs of aging. Graffin wore a more “dad-like” outfit while Jay Bentley’s beard was more salt and pepper. The band though did not let age play a part in their performance. In all the times I have ever seen Bad Religion, this was my favorite show.
I was not in the pit this time thrashing around screaming lyrics I held so close to my heart. I sure as hell was not crowd surfing. Instead I perched myself to the side of the stage anticipating which song the band would play next while gently rocking my head throughout.
The continued their set with “Suffer”, “Atomic Garden”, “Wrong Way Kids”, and two of my all time favorites back to back: “You” and “Fuck Armageddon”. They finished their set with “American Jesus” and exited the stage.
The crowd knew an encore was going to happen and no one moved. Instead, they cheered as loudly as possible letting the band know they wanted more. Not even a minute, Bad Religion was back on the stage and Graffin joked “how’d you know we were going to play an encore?”
The encore consisted of three more tracks including two more of my favorite songs, “Infected” and “Sorrow”. Everyone packed in the venue sang as loudly as possible through each song with arms raised high in the air.
It was an amazing night of punk rock goodness. This show was one of the better shows I have seen in my time and I am thrilled to have been a part of it. Punk’s not dead at all. Trust me, I know this.
Bad Religion Set List:
Do What You Want
Only Gonna Die
Recipe For Hate
Before You Die
Conquer The World
New Dark Ages
The Devil In Stitches
Requiem For Dissent
Wrong Way Kids
Meeting Of The Minds
Los Angeles Is Burning