Any week that allows you to take in multiple shows on a headline tour featuring one of the most iconic punk rock bands of a generation is about the best kind of week you could ask for. And so it was last week when yours truly got to take in not one but two shows on Bad Religion‘s tour in support of their seventeenth (!?!?!) studio album, Age Of Unreason, which dropped back in May on Epitaph Records. If you check this site with any regularity, you’ll know that the first of those shows was the Roadblock Festival in East Providence, Rhode Island, an all-day, outdoor festival show that the iconic Bad Religion closed out. And while a great time was had by all that day, at least from a sentimental standpoint, there’s nothing quite like getting to see one of your favorite bands at a club on your own home turf. You see, a sixteen-year-old Jay Stone would attend his first punk rock show over April vacation of his junior year of high school. It was The Gray Race Tour, and it featured Bad Religion headlining with support from Dance Hall Crashers and Unwritten Law, and the local stop took place at Avalon Ballroom on Lansdowne Street in Boston, and while Avalon isn’t there anymore, it’s since been combined with a couple other local clubs and turned into the House Of Blues, and if you couldn’t guess where I’m going already, this particular show took place at House of Blues and so we’ve made a giant punk rock full circle.
Support on this leg of Bad Religion’s US tour came from Dave Hause and the Mermaid. We’ve obviously been big fans of Hause’s solo career over the last however-many years, and have seen him perform truly solo, accompanied by his brother, and fronting full four- and five-piece bands. So it was a bit of an unexpected surprise (that’s redundant, isn’t it?) to catch the band as one of only a couple shows they were playing as a trio, as Hause’s brother/co-writer/guitar hero Tim was on a scheduled vacation – millennials, man. As he has on each run for the last few years, Kevin Conroy joined on drums while Matt Olsson – normally a drummer whom you may have seen play with the likes of Brian Fallon or Frank Iero – assumed bass duties while the trio blazed through an uptempo set that, if you squinted just right, hearkened back to the early days of The Loved Ones. Hell, they even threw a “cover” of “Jane” in for good measure. While he obviously missed having his brother and right-hand-man on stage, Hause looked like he was having fun prowling the stage and filling in the missing sonic pieces.
Bad Religion hit the stage shortly after 9pm (quick aside – I know it’s passe to say because it’s not, like, supporting the local scene or whatever, but I’ll be damned if a doors-at-7, show-at-8, two-band weeknight bill isn’t the absolute bee’s knees) and immediately dove in to “Them And Us” which, of course, appears in its original form on the aforementioned Gray Race, which I’ll pretend forever was a shoutout to the symmetry yours truly pointed out above. This was my first Bad Religion show of the Jamie Miller On Drums era, and while I have long-since planted my flag atop the “the Brooks Wackerman Era Is The Best Bad Religion Era” hill…Miller can flat out play. He served as the proverbial gas pedal as the band powered through the corners of a twenty-seven-song set that featured songs from more than a dozen albums from the band’s legendary catalog. Brian Baker and Mike Dimkich took turns trading lead guitar licks, Jay Bentley bounded around stage providing thunderous basslines and copious oozin-aahs — talk about guys that look like they’re having fun at this stage of their careers — and Greg Graffin was, well, Greg Graffin. He’s one of the most iconic figures in the annals of punk rock history for a reason, pacing the stage as equal parts poet, professor, and punk rock choir leader. Graffin did spill the beans that next year, Bad Religion will mark their 40th anniversary with another lengthy tour and a book chronicling their legendary career, and it started dawning on me that if one were to try to compose a list of American rock acts that have been are as consistent and vital as Bad Religion have been since the dawn of the Ronald Reagan era, that list might include Bruce Springsteen and…um…hang on a sec…
Anyway, head below to check out our photo gallery from the evening!