Friday Night: Bad Religion At Warehouse Live
Fun Fun Fun Fest may have beckoned tantalizingly from Austin, but we resisted its pull to see what is, for us, the greatest punk rock band still putting out new material. It was Bad Religions's 30th Anniversary show, and we were damned if we were gonna miss it.
Aftermath was among the few who made the sacrifice, it seemed. We've never seen the main stage at Warehouse Live so empty for such a huge act. When we got there, the place had yet to reach half capacity, and though it filled up nicely later on, it still wasn't as packed as it should have been.
All that really meant for us was that we had a much easier time getting beer and then getting back to a good spot in front of the stage, but we hope Bad Religion don't misinterpret the slow sales as reason to skip Houston in the future. Enough bands do that shit already.
The opening acts were... an odd choice, to be sure. Openers Off With Their Heads sounded exactly like Face To Face. We mean exactly, to the point where we were able to name which Face songs each Heads song was analogous with. Now, we're not saying Off With Their Hands were intentionally ripping off the defunct Trevor Keith-fronted L.A. pop-punk act, nor are we making accusations of plagiarism of any kind.
We're just saying: they sounded exactly like Face To Face. That having been said, Aftermath is a big fan of Face To Face, so Off With Their Heads were just fine with us. You'd think Bad Religion's 30th anniversary would merit an opening act which was somewhat more original, though.
Which brings us to the Aggrolites. They created quite a buzz a few years back, and they're decent enough for what they do, we suppose. They're a ska/reggae act with soul and punk overtones, which sounds like it could be a fantastic genre combination on paper (and surely there are bands somewhere who are getting that combination exactly right) but onstage?
It was all too upbeat, too cheerful, too inoffensive... we'll just come right out and say it, the Aggrolites were fucking Dad rock. They would have been more at home opening for Jimmy Buffet than for an intense, angry punk-rock band who have been singing about society's ills for almost as long as Aftermath has been alive.
Or maybe not. The audience responded to them well enough, and the front half of the main stage seemed to be pretty into what they were doing, so who knows. Maybe Aftermath has completely misjudged their sound. Maybe. (We didn't, though.)
So did we get these mediocre openers foisted on us because they happen to be on Brett Gurewitz's world-famous Epitaph label? We don't know; Gurewitz didn't show, so we couldn't ask him. But yes.
That's correct, Bad Religion were Mr. Brett-free when they took the stage Friday night, but it didn't matter all that much. His replacement, Brian Baker, has been touring with the band for more than half of their existence, so he's at least as much a part of BR as Gurewitz. And come on, the guy was in Minor Threat. Argue with that cred, we dare you.