Bad Religion @ Terminal 5, 3/26/13
Punk rock pioneers Bad Religion performed Tuesday at Terminal 5 as part of their tour in support of the January release of their sweet 16th album, True North. The album has been hailed by many as a collection of tense, speedy, and ferocious songs – a solid addition to the band’s body of work.
Polar Bear Club brought a lot of enthusiasm to the stage as the opening act, expertly achieving airborne status in unison during songs. Lead singer Jimmy Stadt energetically charged around the stage, thanking the audience for their attention and support. Perhaps, however, they could’ve toned down the humility and appreciation some and amped up the attitude.
Although Against Me! was removed from the bill, The Bronx was a confident and invigorating replacement. With lights down and volume and attitude way up, a mosh pit formed almost instantaneously. Lead singer, Matt Caughthran, commented that the show was their first serious one in some time. A number of expletives made this point even more apparent. He later made a dedication to Eazy-E on the 18th anniversary of his death by remarking, “Look to the left and look to the right, and you will see his influence.” There was also some impressive crowd surfing by Caughthran, done with mic in hand, which blended nicely into an open-shirted finale.
Then it was time for Bad (expletive) Religion. Indeed, they put on a solid performance that night with few breaks and many of their uptempo greats. It was a steady singalong from start to finish. Greg Graffin spoke of the miracle of the band making yet another album as they themselves didn’t seem to know that would happen on the last tour. Graffin reflected on the band’s 320-something songs to date and joked at how long they’ve been playing together.
Surely, serious fans of all ages outnumbered any first timers there that night, or maybe it was just that everyone there was serious about seeing this band. The interactions between the audience and the band were some of the most intense. Greg Graffin’s hands functioned as a type of instrument, pointing and shooting into the air at pivotal lyrical moments, with the audience following in syncopation. Every thirty seconds or so, a member of the audience would appear peacefully floating over the crowd in perfect crowd surfing bliss, before trickling down into the arms of staff in the photo pit. Observing all of this, I was reminded of the reason I love punk shows. For the most part, people are there to enjoy the music and have fun, and all of that tense “This is my spot” attitude and need to take photos and videos of everything is absent. People are freely dancing around, pushing off each other, and feeding off each other’s energy to live in and enjoy that exact moment.
While one of my friends found the best exit to a mosh pit is riding it out, I also discovered that the perfect vantage point for a show like this is completely out of the way of the whole mosh pit scene. We wish Bad Religion well on their tour and hope to see them again soon in NYC.