Bad Religion

support Riverhead
author PP date 07/08/17 venue Amager Bio, Copenhagen, DEN

Despite having played in Denmark numerous times at different venues, tonight is the first time punk rock veterans Bad Religion visit Amager Bio in slightly more intimate surroundings than usual. The show is nearly sold out in advance, and judging by the size of the crowd inside Amager Bio later on, fully sold out through door sales later on. A perfect night for classic melodies and sing alongs, then, preceded by the Dirty Days of Summer hang out by the plaza outside for pre-drinks and DJ music.

Riverhead

Riverhead

Originally, tonight's opening act was intended to be Velvet Volume, but they had to cancel on short notice, so a replacement was found in Riverhead. They are split between Copenhagen and Malmö, and feature members from As We Fight and Halshug among others. You wouldn't have guessed that based on their sound, though, as metallic hardcore is nowhere to be heard in their soundscape. Instead, the band channel Refused and 90s skramz in a style that is essentially pure worship of the former, much like a fellow Swedish band Traktor if you merged them with Suis La Lune. They're fronted by an energetic singer who does a great job performing in front of a larger audience than usual by utilizing the entirety of the stage, whether it's kneeling down screaming, lying on his back, or suddenly storming across the entire stage only to crash into the speaker deck on the right side. Later on, we also find him screaming atop said speaker, only to vault down moments later. It's the kind of performance, combined with the 90s style screamo/post-hardcore sound, that's likely going to be intense at small shows. Tonight, the singer's demand for us to put up peace signs comes off a little awkward, and sound-wise, a Bad Religion audience might not be an ideal one for their style, but the band does pretty good for a short-notice warm up set.

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Bad Religion

I've seen Bad Religion fifteen times prior to tonight, and it's always good. The 35+ years of live experience for iconic frontman Greg Graffin and guitarist Brian Baker guarantee as much, but it also helps to have a fantastic arsenal of songs to pick and choose from. That's something Bad Religion does right: they always play the same 15-16 songs ranging from "Do What You Want" to "I Want To Conquer The World" and "We're Only Gonna Die", and then introduce another 15 or so other cuts as the rotational pieces that vary from tour to tour. Because we're all here to hear the classics as much as the rarities, right? "For how many is this their first Bad Religion show", the band asks, and only a handful of hands rise from the crowd. It speaks volumes about the sort of loyal following the band has who keep coming back, so the setlist strategy is certainly approved.

Bad Religion

Tonight, the sound is crystal clear and among the best, I've heard them (though that doesn't take much from appearances at Den Grå Hal or festivals) - with screeching guitar solos coming through loud and clear in perfect balance against Graffin's seminal vocals. They're in a chatty mood tonight: brief anecdotes are scattered between songs from references to North Korea's nuclear program prior to "Atomic Garden", which was originally written about the Cold War threat, to letting us know that the biggest Danish community in the United States is found in Wisconsin just before "Stranger Than Fiction". They help create a relaxed, down-to-earth mood that reflects the Monday evening slot that's usually a hard one in Denmark for pretty much any band. Still, the venue bursts into community sing alongs for "I Want To Conquer The World", raise up their middle fingers for "Fuck You", and sound thunderous during "21st Century (Digital Boy)", "Generator" and "Sorrow" in particular. Yours truly always looks to the middle section as his favorite in Bad Religion shows as tonight is no exception: with "Modern Man" followed by "No Control", "Against The Grain", "Recipe For Hate", and "We're Only Gonna Die", this is an old school segment that reveals the masterful riffs vs melodies balance the band has so successfully utilized throughout their career.

Bad Religion

Later, we all sing "No Bad Religion can make your life complete" during "No Direction" in what is an iconic line in their discography, before rounding up the set with modern classics "Los Angeles Is Burning", "Overture/Sinister Rouge", and "Sorrow" among others. A brief encore and the band are back for "The Handshake", "Infected" and "Fuck Armageddon...This Is Hell". As usual, we're looking back at a rock solid set jam-packed with sing-along melodies and epic guitar riffs that put most of their peers to shame, but one that's just as unspectacular as most other Bad Religion shows.

Bad Religion

Then again, that's always been a key characteristic about Bad Religion shows: quietly awesome with no fluff, flair, nor additional bullshit, just around 30 songs of awesome punk rock. True, the band brings along a slightly different lineup these days with the drummer Brooks Wackerman having departed recently, Gurewitz not being a part of the touring lineup, and Hetson stopping back in 2013, leaving only Graffin and Bentley as original members on stage. The thing is, Bad Religion still sound exactly as they have always done, so props to Mike Dimkich's fretwork and Miller's tight drumming, so guess what, I'll also be there the 17th and 18th time.

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Setlist:

  • 1. American Jesus
  • 2. New Dark Ages
  • 3. Do What You Want
  • 4. Atomic Garden
  • 5. Let Them Eat War
  • 6. Stranger Than Fiction
  • 7. Along the Way
  • 8. I Want to Conquer the World
  • 9. Fuck You
  • 10. The Streets of America
  • 11. Modern Man
  • 12. No Control
  • 13. Against the Grain
  • 14. Recipe for Hate
  • 15. We're Only Gonna Die
  • 16. The Defense
  • 17. Anesthesia
  • 18. Come Join Us
  • 19. No Direction
  • 20. Los Angeles Is Burning
  • 21. Overture/Sinister Rouge
  • 22. 21st Century (Digital Boy)
  • 23. Generator
  • 24. Sorrow
  • 25. You
  • 26. Punk Rock Song
  • --Encore--
  • 27. The Handshake
  • 28. Infected
  • 29. Fuck Armageddon... This Is Hell

Photos by: Peter Troest

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