October 12, 2016 Bad Religion & Against Me! Invade The Paramount Huntington, NY 10-1-16 w/ Dave Hause
American Punk Rock institution Bad Religion has built quite a legacy over the last three plus decades. Originating in Los Angeles, California, their politically charged brand of Punk has been offered consistently over the course of sixteen studio albums, including 2013’s True North. Weathering the storm of a few lineup changes through the years, original members Greg Graffin (lead vocals), Brett Gurewitz (guitar/backing vocals), as well as Jay Bentley (bass/backing vocals) have kept the band going strong with Brian Baker (lead guitar/backing vocals), Mike Dimkich (guitar), and newest member Jamie Miller (drums). Consistently touring deep into the 2000s, Bad Religion have most recently teamed up with bands like Rise Against, Pennywise, and The Offspring in recent years.
Now in 2016, they team up with Against Me! and Dave Hause,. On September 30th, Starland Ballroom in Sayreville, New Jersey became ground zero for the Vox Populi Tour. The first of three New York area shows, the second date found them at The Paramount down in Huntington, New York on Saturday, October 1st. A rare Long Island appearance for all three acts on the bill, a diverse crowd of Punk Rock fans patiently waited for the show to begin.
Up first was Philadelphia, Pennsylvania’s Dave Hause Performing as a solo artist, Hause has been a fixture in the Punk and Hardcore scene since the mid ’90s a part of a few bands before becoming the frontman for The Loved Ones in 2004. Kicking of a solo career around 2010, Hause opened the show with some spirited, high-energy music from 2011’s Resolutions and 2013’s Devour. Offering songs that included “Time Will Tell” as well as “We Could Be Kings,” the growing crowd welcomed Hause with open arms and loud applause. Be sure to catch him on tour with Bad Religion and Against Me!
Now a tight-packed crowd on the floor, direct support Against Me! was ready to kick the energy up a notch. Originally scheduled to tour with Bad Religion back in 2013, to many this pairing is long overdue and is a pleasant surprise to see the double bill was not completely abandoned. That said, the Florida based Against Me! has been building their own story since 1997. Initially dropping their first three albums via Indie record labels prior to moving over to Sire Records, the release of 2007’s New Wave reached #57 on the Billboard 200, and for many in the mainstream, was an introduction to the band. Enjoying much success through the years, Against Me! is back in 2016 with their seventh overall studio album, Shape Shift with Me. An album that peaked at #80 on the US Billboard 200, Against Me! show no signs of slowing down.
Led by transgender Singer/Guitarist Laura Jane Grace (formerly Thomas James Gabel), her bandmates consisting of Guitarist/Backing Vocalist James Bowman, Bassist/Backing Vocalist Inge Johansson, and Drummer Atom Willard took the stage in energized fashion opening with “True Trans Soul Rebel” off 2014’s Transgender Dysphoria Blues. Clearly excited to be at The Paramount, Grace smiled as they went into new song “333” before “Dead Friend.” Led by the strong vocals of Grace, Bowman and Johansson’s backing vocals added an extra flair to each track.
Exploding into fan-favorite “White People for Peace,” before ”Haunting, Haunted, Haunts,” “Norse Truth,” and “T.S.R. (This Shit Rules),” Against Me! had the audience jumping up and down with fists in the air. The raucous set would conclude with a three song assault of “Walking Is Still Honest,” “Pints of Guinness Make You Strong,” and 2002’s “Black Me Out.” A great crowd-pleaser, Grace is one hell of a frontwoman and the band matched her energy all the way through. Turning up the excitement level in the room, Against Me! set the stage for Bad Religion’s arrival.
One of the best-selling Punk Rock acts of all time, having sold over five million albums worldwide, Bad Religion are a band that cross boundaries to all sorts of music fans. Perhaps it is their raw emotion. Perhaps it is their unforgiving lyrics. Whatever it is, it seems Metalheads and Punk Rockers alike have high respect for this band. That in mind, all was relatively quiet throughout The Paramount as a buzz filled the room awaiting Bad Religion’s arrival on stage.
Suddenly, the silence was broken by excerpts from famous speeches, including Franklin D. Roosevelt’s “Fear Itself,” John F. Kennedy’s “Ask not what your country can do for you,” Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I have a dream,” Richard Nixon’s proclaiming that he is “Not a crook,” and Bill Clinton’s declaration that he “Did not have sexual relations with that woman.” Quite the introduction, mixing hope and corruption, the crowd erupted as the band blasted through “You Are (The Government).” Singing along with the band and roaring in approval, Graffin fed off it all.
Taking a moment to speak with the crowd, Graffin told them this Long Island gig would not be cancelled like their previously announced one, saying, “Because we have an important announcement for you, these are the New Dark Ages.” A fitting segue, 2007’s “New Dark Ages” flowed into “How Much Is Enough?” before Graffin continued to engage the crowd. Taking in the atmosphere of the venue and conveying his feelings about its beauty and how it felt more like a nightclub rather than a Punk club where they started. With his words flowing with ease, he soon introduced “Stranger Than Fiction” before leading the crowd in song for the intro of “Come Join Us.”
Continuing with “Television,” Bentley sang lead before being joined by Graffin and Baker with some signature harmonies. Wasting no time, and at a rapid pace, the tracks kept rattling out, starting with “The Streets of America” going into “Recipe for Hate,” “Let Them Eat War,” “Change of Ideas,” and “Atomic Garden.” It was a perfect Punk Rock assault and the audience sang to nearly every word. Already eleven songs deep, the set continued with “Fuck You,” “Flat Earth Society,” and “Against the Grain,” but this was only the halfway point!
From here, Graffin continued to entertain the crowd with comedic banter, showing all colors of his personality that make him the vocalist he is as the fun continued with “Robin Hood in Reverse,” “I Want to Conquer the World,” “21st Century (Digital Boy),” and “Modern Man.” Not to be overlooked, chants of “Jay!” rose up from the crowd as everyone showed their appreciation for the Bassist as well as his vocal contributions. Pumping out more sing-along tracks such as “1000 More Fools” and “Delirium of Disorder,” thereafter Graffin told the crowd that the setlist was comprised of songs not often played live. He went on to say that some of the songs go back thirty-five years. Quite a treat for long time followers, as the crowd cheered, many yelled out requests, so the band continued with “Best for You,” “Do What You Want,” “You,” “We’re Only Gonna Die,” and set closer “American Jesus.” Not quite finished, wild applause rained down, encouraging the band to be drawn back out once again for an encore. Graciously reappearing, Bad Religion saved some of their biggest hits for last as they belted out “Infected,” “Sorrow,” and “Fuck Armageddon… This Is Hell.”
More than a concert, it was as if Bad Religion was having a party with a thousand of their closest friends. That said, the veteran Punk Rock band performed a powerful, tight set of nearly thirty song from all throughout their vast catalog. A tour that wraps up November 3rd in Tempe, AZ, the New York area was fortunate enough to host the first three shows, the last being October 3rd’s appearance at New York City’s Irving Plaza. Loyal fans, spanning generations, turned out and loudly participated for the entire show at The Paramount, and Bad Religion gave them all an experience they will not soon forget.
Photo credit: ML Schoen Photography