Bad Religion with Less Than Jake and Hot Water Music at Kool Haus, March 16. Tickets: $25.50. Attendance: sold out. Rating: NNNN
punk rock made it ok for me to be alone back when I was a nerdy teen. The music's sense of building character with all those "think for yourself/be yourself" mantras really worked for me. I was reminded of how much it mattered when I saw Bad Religion at Kool Haus Saturday. I couldn't get over how reassuring it was.
That their music has evolved became obvious as they wore the audience out with song after song, playing through the spectrum of their 20-year oeuvre from the old, choppy, fast punk anthems to longer, more complexly arranged numbers. Like A Rock even featured freaky, angular guitar breaks, and the drums skipped into unrecognizable polyrhythms that made me think a jazz band had captured the stage.
The vocals hit with clearly enunciated directness, emphasizing the fact that Bad Religion has something to say. And the youngish audience was listening. I spotted only a handful of other greying, old-school types in the crowd.
High-energy ska outfit Less Than Jake had the audience cooking, and during their set I came across a most excellent circle pit, not in front of the stage but over in the far corner. Less Than Jake nicely balanced out Bad Religion's sobriety. Bad Religion lead singer Greg Graffin, for instance, didn't introduce any of the songs as being about beer-drinking and titty-fucking.
Security was heavy. By the time the long lineup of people at Kool Haus were searched and had proved they were old enough to drink, Hot Water Music had already played.