Bad Religion

support Brudte Løfter
author AP date 24/07/13 venue Den Grå Hal, Copenhagen, DEN

My second gig of the second half of 2013 takes me from hardcore to punk rock, and to a band I have the deepest respect for: Bad Religion. I cherish the opportunity to be able to see them in the relatively intimate confines of Den Grå Hal in the Christiania freetown area of Copenhagen, and despite suffering from a pressing lack of sleep I find myself thoroughly enjoying what I bear witness to - but more on that in the paragraphs below:

All pictures courtesy of Jill Decome Photography

Brudte Løfter

Brudte Løfter reside in old school hardcore punk territory, drawing notable parallels to OFF! n particular, in my mind. As the quartet take the stage, only a handful of devout fans and curious onlookers have opted to be ready inside the 1000-capacity Grå Hal, giving their performance a miserable outlook, but thankfully Brudte Løfter are not ones to let such circumstances disturb them - they are supporting one of the greatest punk rock bands in existence, after all. Even so, these boys are not quite as frenetic as I would like from a band in this genre; they're not static, but with songs that generally follow a strict formula I feel there needs to be a stronger visual component here before a truly lasting impression can be formed. There are exceptions of course, such as "Nederlag", which has more nuances to it than much of the remaining material aired tonight; whilst vocalist Adonis does do his best to translate his passion for the music into an exhilirating live presence. In the end though, I must concede that the music of Brudte Løfter is not my cup of tea, neither in terms of their songs nor the way they carry themselves on stage.

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Bad Religion

Bad Religion, on the other hand, are one of those bands who could pick an arbitrary song from their discography without sacrificing any of their instant appeal. So anthemic is the nature of the songs that even vocalist Greg Graffin's initial, almost lethargic demeanor isn't enough to dampen the ecstasy of the audience as the impactful trio of "New Dark Ages", "True North" and "Generator" is rolled out near the beginning of the show. That this is by far the most intimate setting in which I have been fortunate enough to experience Bad Religion thus far, only strengthens the impact of hearing an entire venue singing along to virtually every song (old and new); and thankfully once Graffin notices the enthusiasm with which they are received here, his personal vigour, too, is on the rise (and until then the remaining members, guitarists Brett Gurewitz and Brian Baker; bassist Jay Bentley; and drummer Brooks Wackerman have done all they can to compensate for his apparent fatigue).

What is not so impressive, however, are the two stage-gorillas to either side of the band, tasked with violently jerking euphoric crowd-surfers and stage-divers to the side and threatening them with expulsion - something that one audience member, when given the microphone by Graffin, loudly criticises at one point, resulting in nothing but defiance and even more stage-diving when the revered "Punk Rock Song" is aired. Ignoring this silly behaviour (come on, it's a punk rock show and there is no barrier; of course people are going to stage-dive!). I am pleased to find that the band themselves seem to have no problem with these antics; but even more heart-warming is the genuine smile on Bentley's face when a tiny toddler climbs on stage and is given by someone an unplugged microphone, followed by the little man (with enormous headphones of course) lip-syncing "Robin Hood in Reverse" and "Sorrow" whilst flashing the peace-sign with his two fingers. My heart slowly melts at this display of excellent parenting.

But despite this turning into exactly the sort of festive sing-song event one would expect, I cannot help but feel this is one of the weaker Bad Religion shows I've seen thus far (though not nearly as riddled with apathy as their Roskilde Festival performance a few years ago). Part of this no doubt owes to the absence of touring guitarist Greg Hetson and the consequent lack of oomph in the sound; but above all, it is the feeling that for Bad Religion, this is but a mundane show they need to have done - in stark contrast with the magnificent performance at Groezrock earlier this year. But you know, with songs as ridiculously strong as "21st Century (Digital Boy)", "American Jesus", "No Direction", "Sanity" and "Dept. of False Hope", it is nigh impossible for Bad Religion to put on a decidedly bad show.

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