Bad Religion @ SantaMonica Civic Auditorium 4/6/07

Written by Big Smile Staff

Posted Apr 6, 2007, by The Bear.

If you live in Los Angeles and don’t own a car getting around can be a huge hassle, and places that would take only 20 minutes to reach with a car can take more than an hour if you have to rely on public transportation. My current intern on my show at KSCR and I took the bus out from USC to Santa Monica to catch Bad Religion’s show at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium on Friday, April 6th, and it took us about an hour and a half to get there (don’t ask about the ride home by the way), but it was worth it.
Well we missed the opening band, which was unfortunate as it was the Briggs whom I happen to like; they were just finishing their last song when we arrived so I can’t render a judgment on them, but if the number of people leaving the auditorium to buy drinks, merch, or use the restrooms after their set was any indication then they must have played a great set.
Tiger Army was up next and played a tight set that lasted about 45 minutes and got the crowd moving pretty well, including some very visible circle pit action.
However it was Bad Religion that everyone really wanted to see (partly because this was the only local show they’d be doing between now and the Warped Tour this summer) and they did not disappoint. Even after all of these years Bad Religion still knows how to put on a fast-paced, energetic show that will whip a crowd up into a frenzy. Also when B. R. plays locally Brett Gurewitz usually performs (he doesn’t tour that much with the rest of the band, mainly staying behind to the run Epitaph Records) so you get the rather unique three guitar sound on those occasions that you usually will only get in L.A.
They played a set that was unusual for several reasons. First, Greg Graffin announced that they were going to play the entire set list in chronological order, starting with the oldest songs and traveling all the way up to the newest ones, something he says they’ve never done. This allowed any fan with a working knowledge of B. R. discography to have a general idea of when he’d hear his favorite song that night (if they played it), and that’s exactly what they did. The set list was fairly standard for a Bad Religion show – they got in most of the audience favorites, from “We’re Only Going to Die” all the way through to “Los Angeles is Burning” – but hearing the songs in a chronological order like this gives one a better appreciation both of how B. R has grown as a band, and how they’ve remained true to their roots. They played stuff off almost all of the Epitaph releases but, except for a couple of songs from the “Stranger Than Fiction” album largely skipped the Atlantic records entirely, going straight to “The Process of Belief,” the first album from after their return to Epitaph in 2001.
The show was tight, fast, and loud, with a lot of good pit action. When they started playing “No Control” one of my favorite B. R. songs I was seized with the spirit of the moment and shoved my way from the back of the auditorium all the way up through the crowd, through the circle pit, and into the crush of moving bodies at the front of the stage, arriving there in the middle of the song’s second verse. Honestly I never thought I could have moved through a crowd that thick so fast.
The climax of the night came at the end when Bad Religion did something I’ve never seen them do before, which was to give an encore. They are (or were) notorious for not giving encores, but that night they used an encore to unveil one of the new songs off the forthcoming “New Maps of Hell” album which is due on July 10th. The new song was called “Heroes and Martyrs” and I at once saw a whole bunch of cell-phones get raised up to record it (and sure enough the song can now be heard online from some of those [very low quality] recordings, not only that but the fact that the song was performed at the show is now mentioned in the wikipedia article about “New Maps of Hell”). If that song is any indication then the new album will be another collection of fast and furious Bad Religion songs, so save the date.

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