Review: Bad Religion, Slaughterhouse Opener Illustrate the Power of Punk Rock
By Taylor D. Waring
For the spokesperson’s review
Legendary punk rock veterans Bad Religion played their first Spokane gig in their 40-year Knitting Factory career on March 30, and the night was filled with catchy punk riffs and plenty of hoops. Bad Religion enjoyed the crowds so much that vocalist Greg Graffin promised to return to Knitting Factory on every future tour.
Slaughterhouse, SoCal’s post-punk newcomers, opened the night. A formidable frontwoman, the piercing punk rock cries of Veronica Molidor pass through Siouxsie Sioux meets Gwen Stefani. Paired with guitarist Taylor Ramirez’s Robert Smith-esque chorus-soaked playing, the band was a delightful surprise to fans who had never heard of them before.
Bad Religion followed soon after with a jaw-dropping 29-song setlist spanning tracks from their entire 40-year career. Since forming in Los Angeles in 1980, the band have been known for their poignant lyrics critical of American culture and unforgettable vocal hooks. This created a not-so-underground following for the massive hit band that shaped the sound acts like Green Day, NOFX and The Offspring would bring to mainstream audiences in the 1990s.
The show’s lineup included the original members of vocalist Graffin and bassist Jay Bentley along with other punk rock legends like guitarist Brian Baker (Minor Threat), guitarist Mike Dimkich (the Cult) and drummer Jamie Miller ( Snot and … And You Will Know Us by the Trail of the Dead). Although all of these guys are in their late 50s, they put on a high-energy punk rock show (although, according to a source close to the band, they played a lot of golf between tour dates).
The band played many of their best-known songs, including “American Jesus” from 1993’s “Recipe for Hate” and “21st Century Digital Boy” from 1994’s “Stranger Than Fiction.” Both of these tracks feature the iconic lyrics , smart and deeply critical of Gaffin and the band’s catchy musicianship. The standout performances of the night were the group’s slower tracks, like “Slumber” and “Sorrow.”
In many ways, Bad Religion, with its pop sensibility, helped bring punk into the mainstream and served as the prototype for the pop punk wave of the early 2000s. obvious) from the highly political “American Jesus” to Green Day’s massively successful ode to George W. Bush, “American Idiot”.
However, what is stranger is the current pop punk revival led by the likes of Machine Gun Kelly, who have apparently all but divorced themselves from the self-awareness and culture established by Bad Religion.
Arguably the greatest pop punk performer of all time with 20.8 million monthly streams on Spotify (compared to Bad Religion’s 1.5 million and Green Day’s 2 million), MGK promotes vapid self-obsession and overt relationships. toxic. It seems that the genre pioneered by so many brilliant musicians and minds has sadly turned into a horrible parody of itself.
While the future of punk rock in the mainstream looks bleak at best, old torchbearers like Bad Religion and new bands like Slaughterhouse seem to have retained the soul of the genre – cultural critique – while retaining the pop sensibilities. Or maybe I’m wrong? Maybe it was about the circular pits the whole time. Either way, we can at least expect Bad Religion to return to Knitting Factory.