The Punk Rock giants came to play two nights, 60+ songs, and over three decades of music in Chicago.
The list of bands that can stand on the laurels of a successful music career while enduring more than three decades in the industry does not stretch far. However on that short index, Bad Religion is emboldened with the beginnings of a cult status followed by commercial success, and now, a legacy.
Hailing from Whittier, California, Plague Vendor opened the night with west coast flavored rock n’ roll and wailing vocalization.
Bad Religion then took to the stage at The Metro in Chicago for the sold-out, first-night show celebrating the band’s musical presence in both the 20th and 21st centuries. Lead singer Greg Graffin explained to the crowd that Bad Religion hand-picked a select few cities around the globe to conduct this two-night sequential performance in which night one would be devoted to their material before the year 2000 and the second night to their more recent song catalog. Graffin went on to note how remembering 60+ songs without a prompter is a feat all in its own.
As the now middle-aged, gray punks took the stage, there was no mistaking the immediate waves of human heat that emanated from the center of the pit. Without hesitation, the full house thumped, slammed, and screamed along with every lyric belted by Graffin. Heads kicked back and forth with the bass and snare of Brooks Wackerman behind the kit. The fiery enthusiasm of the congregation would not diminish thoughout the band’s 90-minute set.
The set list ran the gamut of earlier days between “Spirit Shine” off the The Gray Race LP (1996) to “We’re Only Gonna Die,” the opening number off Bad Religion’s first LP, How Could Hell Be Any Worse? (1982). In addition to a great deal of showmanship in connecting with the crowd and delivering anecdotal tidbits between songs, the band gave a tight performance complete with three-part harmony vocals and rolling guitars.
Fans young and old, of gray hairs as well as that of neon green, all rejoiced in the early days of the great American Punk Rock band.