Bad Religion

Bad Religion

The Bronx, Polar Bear Club

Tue, March 26, 2013

Doors: 6:30 pm / Show: 7:30 pm

Terminal 5

New York, NY

$28.50 advance / $32 day of show

Sold Out

This event is all ages

Bad Religion
Bad Religion
The music has the furious beat and driving buzz saw guitars of classic punk rock, but when a vocal chorus cuts in, it is surprisingly harmonious and emotionally evocative, reminiscent of The Beatles or The Everly Brothers.

Bad Religion has always seen music as a force for social change. On their latest CD entitled The Empire Strikes First, punk's most important active band takes its weightiest stance yet on the dual themes of religion and politics. Clearly condemning the Bush administration's doctrine of preemptive war, and questioning religion's increasing and ever-frightening role in American politics, Bad Religion's message proves to be more salient today than ever before and it's conveyed with the fierce musical attack that has helped define the band, and the genre, for two decades.

The L.A. outfit's thirteenth studio album, co-written and co-produced by vocalist Greg Graffin and guitarist Brett Gurewitz, also finds Bad Religion raising its sonic stakes. With the disc's centerpiece, "Let Them Eat War", the band fires a roaring, three-minute missive at a certain so called compassionate conservative. Structured around a breakneck beat, blistering riffs and an apocalyptic chorus, the song, which houses a ferocious verse by rising hip/hop intellect Sage Francis, advocates an impoverished populace duped by the very Washingtonian prevaricator they've supported with their vote and their military service.

When Graffin sneers the following heated prose atop the band's sparking charge, Bad Religion asserts its deep-seated interest in probing for the truth:

"There's a prophet on a mountain and he's making up dinner/
With long division and a riding crop/
Anybody can feel like a winner when it's served up piping hot/
But the people aren't looking for a handout/
They're America's working corps/
Can this be what they voted for?"

Meanwhile, power-packed proclamations like "Sinister Rouge" and "Social Suicide" see straight through Bible-thumping deceit. The bulk of Empire is just as fiery, evidenced by the mid-disc torcher "Los Angeles Is Burning". Here, bristling guitars escort Graffin's doomsday rant about palm trees as 'candles in the murder wind' while exploring the news media's role as either reflector or purveyor of reality.

If Epitaph's flagship band sounds better than ever on The Empire Strikes First, Graffin says the roar that accompanies such scathing commentary is no accident. "After so many years of doing this, we're really only interested in making a record, writing the songs and producing if we know it will be really good", he explains. Picking up where the troupe left off on 2002's outstanding comeback The Process of Belief - which saw Gurewitz rejoin the creative fold after a lengthy hiatus - Empire manages to trump that disc making it arguably the fiercest and most focused Bad Religion offering to date.

The group's wall of guitars - courtesy of Gurewitz, Greg Hetson and Brian Baker - roar feverishly, driving vibrant, melodic anthems throughout the disc with the rhythmic virtuosity of Brooks Wackerman and co-founding bassist Jay Bentley pouring the musical foundation. And while each track is topical, Graffin says that, "the songs are universal enough that in ten years time they should still hold up quite well."

Juxtaposing intellectual rigor with faith based conviction, provocative offerings like "Beyond Electric Dreams" "Atheist Peace" and "God's Love" explore religion's interface with science in our society. And with the stellar "Live Again - The Fall of Man," the singer - who now holds a Ph.D in Biology - closes out this standout album of thinking person's punk by pondering, "What good is something if you can't have it until you die?"

Bad Religion have been stunning the music world by mixing thought, melody, attitude, speed and ability since 1980, when Graffin, Gurewitz and Bentley formed the band in suburbs of L.A.'s San Fernando Valley. In an era where major labels refused to consider American punk groups, Gurewitz formed Epitaph Records as a medium for the band's message and a crudely recorded self-titled EP was born.

The group's first long-player, 1982's How Could Hell Be Any Worse, helped define the Southern California punk sound. By 1987, with guitarist Greg Hetson of the iconic Circle Jerks in the fold, Bad Religion crafted the epic Suffer, which is often credited for revitalizing the punk movement and ushering it into the 1990s. A prolific period yielded three acclaimed discs - ?89's No Control, ?90's Against The Grain, and ?92's Generator - and with its fan base ballooning the band jumped to Atlantic Records after 1993's Recipe For Hate.

A year later, Epitaph - which experienced remarkable growth through its first decade - became an unprecedented indie phenomenon as a result of the punk renaissance it helped to instigate. Gurewitz left the band to oversee his record company full time but Bad Religion forged ahead by recruiting one-time Minor Threat and Dag Nasty guitarist Brian Baker for three Atlantic offerings and respective touring. By the start of the 21st Century, Gurewitz and Graffin had rekindled their collaborative pursuits; Gurewitz had rejoined the group and Bad Religion released its widely hailed comeback disc, The Process of Belief.

Now with the arrival of The Empire Strikes First, the band enforces the theory that the finest punk rock has always housed opinions to bolster its spirit and attitude. Quite simply, Empire is a musical Molotov, and Bad Religion is as vital as ever.
The Bronx
The Bronx
For the better part of a decade, The Bronx have played provocateurs. From their beginnings as an attack-mode hardcore band to their hardscrabble lives as road warriors to the twist of fate that led to their alter ego Mariachi El Bronx — an episode that itself was an act of defiance — the Los Angeles quintet has embraced a fierce independence.

And as they prepare for the February 2013 release of their fourth rock album, one thing is for certain: The Bronx have grown up, but they haven’t gone soft.

“This represents the highest evolution of the band, which is exactly how it should be be,” vocalist Matt Caughthran says of the album fans inevitably will come to know as The Bronx (IV). “We’re the same guys, but we would never make the same record twice. And because of everything that’s happened with El Bronx, we’ve grown as musicians. And that’s why on this record you’ll hear that the songs are driving everything.”

The Bronx burst on the scene in 2002 with music that recalled the heyday of L.A. punk — artillery-fire guitars and percussion punctuating anguished missives about the perils of street life and the frayed edges of society. Now the band (Caughthran, guitarists Joby J. Ford and Ken Horne, bassist Brad Magers and drummer Jorma Vik) frames its aggression in different and, yes, more sophisticated ways.

“We made an effort to trim the fat and focus the ideas a lot more,” Ford explains. “It helped that we’re working in our own studio, with our friend (producer/engineer) Beau Burchell, and that we know what we want to do and how to get there very quickly.”

The Bronx (IV) also reflects a certain musicality that the band acknowledges is a carryover from its work over two albums as a mariachi outfit. Mariachi El Bronx started as an act of rebellion in 2006 when the punk band took offense to being asked to do an acoustic performance and showed up in sombreros with a mariachi arrangement of the song “Dirty Leaves. Now El Bronx has taken on a life of its own, with its reverent, enthusiastic take on the genre winning fans worldwide.

“I think that after doing the mariachi records, it gave us a whole new outlook and a more structured way of writing music. We figured out what works best,” Vik says. “Everything is less spazzy. Matt doesn’t scream as much, but he’s got that thing in his voice where he can scream in pitch — mariachi has helped his confidence as a singer and ours as songwriters.”

Indeed, Caughthran admits, “I found that a lot of melodies crept in subliminally and I didn’t even realize it until later.”

“Will both bands eventually encapsulate each other and become this horrible mariachi rock monster?” Ford says, laughing. “I wonder.”

The Bronx (IV) shows no overt sign of that. It does, however, seethe with band’s characteristic rage, even if that rebellion is not quite as youthful as it once was.

The single “Youth Wasted” is Caughthran’s fearless look back “at a lot of the bad decisions I made,” he says. “I’d like to think that as a human being I have the best intentions and I’m a good person. Sometimes it doesn’t always work out that way.”

“Valley Heat” makes The Bronx sound like elder statesmen. “That song’s about people who will do anything and everything just to call attention to themselves,” Caughthran says. “Sometimes you see young people, especially young bands, just doing all the wrong things. And you shake your head. It’s easier for me to write a scathing song about that stuff than it is to give advice.”

And two of the new songs were borne of The Bronx’s tour adventures. “Under the Rabbit” refers to a friend of the band who smuggled booze around a festival under her rabbit fur coat. “The Unholy Hand” was inspired by a bizarre sequence of events in which Ford suffered an injury to his right hand and later, during a chance meeting with a man who turned out to be a gang member, offended him by offering a handshake with his left. “He said, ‘I ain’t shaking that — that’s the unholy hand, bro,’” Ford recalls. “I thought, ‘song title.’”

Call it another chapter of Bronx lore. For a band that survived two near-death experiences involving their tour van in their first 18 months, that weathered label problems that undermined albums No. 2 and 3 and that even made it through a mid-career summer on the Warped Tour, it’s all part of destiny that only occasionally feels in the Bronx’s hands.

“We made this record on our terms,” Ford says. “We don’t have to rent a studio for a zillion dollars or pay some mega-producer to help us, because we’ve become self-reliant. It’s been a long road and we’re proud of it.”
Polar Bear Club
Polar Bear Club
Polar Bear Club is an American post-hardcore/indie rock band from Syracuse, upstate New York. Formed in 2005, the band currently consists of vocalist Jimmy Stadt, lead guitarist Chris Browne, rhythm guitarist Nate Morris, bass guitarist Erik Michael "Goose" Henning and drummer Emmett Menke.
Venue Information:
Terminal 5
610 W 56th St
New York, NY, 10019