Last Night: Bad Religion at House of Blues
At this point, part of Bad Religion's appeal is their utter reliability. Tour after tour and album after album, the consummate L.A. punks have trained audiences thoroughly to know what to expect from them: chainsaw guitar riffs, pointed social commentary and irony-free live performances.
Thirty-three years later, it can all seem a little routine at times. In practice, though, punk rock and routines rarely coexist for long. Bad Religion's legendary consistency was put to the test by some touring setbacks Wednesday night at House of Blues, but the band displayed the veteran savvy necessary to hang in there and face down a few curveballs without striking out.
The first big curve was the absence of scheduled tourmates Against Me!, who had to cancel their participation after parting ways with their drummer earlier this month. Bummer though that was, local Celtic-punk superheroes the Dead Rabbits got the last-minute call to help warm up the early birds -- a task for which they proved spectacularly suited.
If you've got plans to catch the Rabbits at Griff's on St. Paddy's Day, expect to hear a lot of fine plucking from the band's string section, which includes banjo, mandolin and acoustic guitar. All that wraps around their thumping electric core of guitar, bass and drums quite nicely to produce a huge, boisterous pub-punk sound that practically lifts the booze to your lips for you.
That sound filled up the House of Blues with ease on Wednesday, but the Dead Rabbits proved they didn't need all those instruments to win over a crowd when they showed off some nice vocal harmonies on the a cappella pirate shanty, "Roll the Wood Pile Down." Judging by the number of punks clapping along, the band appeared to make some new fans.
Up next was the Polar Bear Club from Rochester, New York. All eyes (and ears) immediately turned to singer Jimmy Stadt, whose dynamic pipes cut straight through the group's big, bouncy riffs. Reminiscent at times of a white 'n' nerdy Cedric Bixler, Stadt's energy onstage proved infectious, and the audience listened with interest.
Polar Bear Club
Stadt profusely thanked the crowd for every clap and cheer. A number of PBC's slightly poppy, post-hardcore tunes sounded like they could've made for some great mass sing-alongs, had anyone known the words. Maybe next time.