Bad Religion are one of my favorite live bands. Once I realized I haven't seen them since the 2002 Warped Tour, I realized I had to see them. Mainly because they've been hinting for the last few years that they could retire at any moment, but also because the Paradise is a fraction of the size of the venues they normally play when they come around. Also, this was part of their "Battle of the Centuries" where they play two nights in a city: The first is all music from the 20th century, the second is all from the 21st century. The first night is definitely the more popular of the pair, selling out far in advance while tickets for tonight are currently still available.
No Trigger opened the show, and once they announced they were from Worcester, MA I assumed they were just some newfangled local opener. Turns out they have 21,000 Facebook followers as opposed to Plague Vendor's 7000 followers. Never having heard of them made me feel old. Then again, they are part of the "melodic hardcore" subgenre which I've never gotten into. Melodic hardcore, to me, is more of a louder emo. It still includes melodies, but also more screaming and harder music. It's not my preferred music, but it was good for what it was.
Plague Vendor seemed much more compelling. Fronted by a singer who was equal parts Iggy Pop, Mick Jagger, and Michael Jackson, they brought a bizarre version of trashy punk metal to the stage. Both punk and metal are genres that can get pretty repetitive. It's refreshing to see a band with a unique sound come from that. They seemed to confuse a decent portion of the crowd, particularly with the singer's dancing, but I'll take confusing over boring any time.
Regardless of the openers, this was Bad Religion's show. They owned the stage and the crowd's enthusiasm was more fervent than I've seen in a long time. Greg Gaffin hasn't looked like a standard punk rock front man in decades, and he looks it even less than he did in the 13 years since I saw them last. But the man can still spout some fierce vocals, which is all that truly matters. Pulling exclusively from their 80s and 90s material, you got to hear songs that would have been all but forgotten at any other show. One of the highlights is when they'd play a block of songs from one particular album, like 1989's No Control. They seemed to stick with their late 80s/early 90s catalog in particular, but no complaints from me.
Gaffin also told some fantastic stories, which was just about the only time the crowd wasn't moshing. He admitted that his moshing days were behind him, and now he's the type to sit in the balcony sipping his brandy. He also told about missing their first ever Boston show at the soon to be closed TT the Bear's since they didn't realize it was an afternoon matinee and they arrived at 6:00. All in all they played for almost 90 minutes, which came to roughly 100 songs (obviously exaggerating). It was such a great set of songs that even if they missed your favorite, you hardly cared.
If this tour is coming to your city, you truly need to go. Bad Religion have been hinting at a break up for a few years now. You'll regret not checking them out one last time. Plus, it was the oldest crowd I've ever seen at an all ages show, even in the pit, so there is relatively no shot of being the Creepy Old Guy. Go to their website to see if you have another shot.