Bad Re­li­gion Bris­tol Academy

Pop­core stal­warts per­sist in preach­ing SoCal’s punk gospel

Classic Rock - - Live! - Stephen Dal­ton

Bun­dle it into a sack, weigh it down with stones and lob it into the canal, but the in­de­struc­tible zom­bie corpse of punk rock stub­bornly re­fuses to die.

See­ing Bad Re­li­gion in 2017, al­most 40 years since they formed at high school, is a re­minder of how ex­hil­a­rat­ing that two-minute, three-chord, four-let­ter for­mula can still be – but also how lim­it­ing. While abra­sive, po­lit­i­cally charged rock gen­res have evolved and mul­ti­plied, these melodic West Coast punk-pop pi­o­neers re­main metaphor­i­cally stuck in their garage, rant­ing against par­ents and politi­cians and au­thor­ity fig­ures in an in­creas­ingly ironic sub­ur­ban-dad man­ner.

Bad Re­li­gion may sound more like The Mon­kees than the Pis­tols nowa­days, but one key sav­ing grace is Greg Graf­fin’s wry stage pat­ter; he ded­i­cates Fuck You to all the purists who ac­cuse him of be­ing “not punk enough, too old, too fat”. The band also have a clus­ter of clas­sic power-pop an­thems, det­o­nat­ing mosh­pit frenzy with the cave­man chant 21st Cen­tury (Dig­i­tal Boy), the stupidly in­fec­tious Punk Rock Song and the apoc­a­lyp­tic epic Los An­ge­les Is Burn­ing.

Graf­fin and co. can clearly do this kind of rab­bler­ous­ing shtick with ease. But as found­ing fa­thers of SoCal punk, they should also feel se­cure enough to move out­side their com­fort zone oc­ca­sion­ally, adding a lit­tle depth and di­ver­sity to these samey ju­ve­nile riff-slam­mers.

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