Photographs by Matt Klopot.
How are you supposed to feel when your accountant grabs the mic and proceeds to melt face? If there was some held notion that punk was a young man’s game, Bad Religion ripped it to shreds at Echo Beach. 45 years into their career, these guys still take the stage with blitzkrieg ferocity. Appearing snowy haired and long of tooth, closing your eyes and listening was enough to prove that age is only skin deep.
With three mere words “let’s start this”, the familiar opening chords of 1994 hit Stranger Than Ficiton sounded out across the beach. Pitch perfect and backed by a zealous passion, it set a path along crowd favourites both classic and contemporary. From the thick and fast power chords of You Are (The Government) raining down on the crowd like an air strike, to the frenzied war drums of Only Rain. No Direction found the lead guitarist hunched over, attacking the strings like a feral creature, while 2013 track Fuck You’s blistering abrasiveness found a home amongst its vintage brethren, crowd rallying around it, sounding cheers like a battle cry. In a testament to the band’s fervour, it took all of 4 tracks for the first audience member to be crowd surfed out of the mosh pit. He ran by me a minute later, grey hair dripping with sweat, a grin plastered from ear to ear.
The band was in their element, wrapped up in the joy of performance. Lead singer Greg Graffin swelled in the spotlight, fist thrust towards sky as if punching the heavens. The drummer unloaded barrage after barrage upon his kit in a ceaseless assault. Owning the finale American Jesus, the guitarist roamed the stage like a beast unshackled, raising his guitar into the air at its conclusion, like a trophy of a well won ovation.
With the recent influx of heritage bands performing throwback tours, it’d be easy to grow jaded. After all, if you ceased being relevant years ago, why not roll out a litany of familiar hits to secure an easy retirement? Any concerns I had over Bad Religion’s tour were wiped clean seeing the dude pushing 50 next to me skanking for 40 minutes straight, lost to all but the music. Whatever motivated the tour, I don’t care. I want to believe.