Sanity is a full-time job for Bad Religion.
Despite March showing no promise of warming up, the cold didn’t stop dozens of eager fans from lining Seymour street on Sat., March 23 for another concert at the Wellmont. Fans clad in Misfits paraphernalia and combat boots anticipated their entrance to Bad Religion, featuring opening acts Polar Bear Club and The Bronx. The night was filled with restored hope that punk is still alive and well and its fan base is spreads across every age demographic.
Opening act Polar Bear Club started at exactly 8 p.m., leaving no fan angrily waiting to get the music they paid for. The band was full of energy, especially lead singer Jimmy Stadt, who excitedly bounced around the stage through their half-hour long set.
Polar Bear Club played crowd pleasers “Screams in Caves,” “Another Night in the Rock” and “Bottled Wind” for a crowd that slowly warmed up and openly accepted them. Despite a classic case of drums drowning vocals, the crowd overall was pleased with their performance.
Slightly more seasoned performers, The Bronx took the stage in an eccentric way, complimentary to their own eccentricities. The band walked out onto a dark stage to instrumental music with a slight Mexican undertone. Their white banner bearing a gorilla with blinking red eyes and their motto of “The Beat that Kills” was all the stage decoration the band needed.
Lead singer Matt Caughthran immediately connected with the crowd. He passionately expressed, “It’s Saturday night here in the belly of the beast.” Caughthran ensured the crowd early on in their set that this would be “the culmination of [their] lives.”The Bronx played an impressive set that included “The Unholy Hand,” “Too Many Devils” and “Under the Rabbit” from their new album IV. The band’s guitarists impressively kept up their talent through high speed solos and high energy reactions from the crowd. A mosh pit was opened by ecstatic fans by the end of their first song, and remained that way through the duration of the band’s set.
Caughthran and band mates took their job of warming up the fans seriously. Before The Bronx’s second to last second, Caughthran stage dove into the crowd and surfed to the middle of the pit of people. Beginning their song “Heart Attack American” off their first album I released in 2003, Caughthran stayed in the crowd and moshed with eager fans. Closing out their set via the mosh pit, the crowd was pumped and ready to go when Bad Religion took the stage.
A sea of people roaring and pounding fists greeted Bad Religion when they finally took the stage, opening with “Past Is Dead” off their newest CD True North. The stage was simply designed with the band’s flag bearing their name in their signature blood-red font. There was no ornate light show or theatrics, just a seasoned band and their music to please the people.
The band had a perfect amount of chatter in between songs to keep the crowd engaged, using word play to usher in the next song. There was not a silent voice in the room when they played “21st century,” “Sanity” and “Sorrow.” The band also paid homage to their home town and reminded the crowd to never be ashamed of the place they came from, even if it gets a bad rap, with their popular single “F*** You” from True North.
Crowd surfing and moshing was at an all-time high during the band’s intense 30-song set, complete with one lucky fan that snuck up on stage to do a lap around the band before jumping back into the welcoming crowd. The amazing mosh pit and demonstrated the civility by the crowd and safety provided by the security, especially toward crowd surfers like the wheelchair-bound surfer who was collectively delivered to the stage via a thousand caring hands.
The crowd chanted began to chant “Bad Religion, Bad Religion” the second the band left the stage, eager for their return for an encore. The band did not disappoint, doing a four song encore, including their final songs “Stranger than Fiction” and “Dept of False Hope” before finally bowing out for the night.
Concert goer Dawn Witte had no complaints after her first experience seeing the band live. “My older brother in ’94 was listening to Bad Religion when I heard the song ‘Generator,’ and that sparked my interest in wanting to hear more,” said Witte.
Bad Religion lived up to 18 years-worth of listening with an amazing performance and a set list that included the songs she wanted to hear most. Witte commented she “would without a doubt go and see them again.”
Bad Religion’s lead singer Greg Graffin, the only original member of the band who has never taken time off from the band over its 34 years, also dedicated their song “I Want To Conquer The World” to New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, saying he will be the next president.
A $30 ticket was well spent seeing these three bands perform. Bad Religion will continue to tour North America into April, so be sure to check them out.