October 19, 2021 | Concert Review by Rachael Contreras
It was 667 days since Bad Religion had last played a live show with a real live audience. After Instagram teaser posts from soundcheck, this past Friday at the Riverside Municipal Auditorium, that all changed. Bad Religion was able to play live and blow us all away with tremendous acts, Alkaline Trio and War on Women.
The Riverside Municipal Auditorium (RMA) is a beautiful, old-timey artistic building in Downtown Riverside with unique features like three floors of Spanish tile stairs. The bottom floor was committed to the merchandise tables and the only bars to purchase drinks if you weren’t on the general admission floor inside the sea of people.
Needless to say, Bad Religion’s merchandise line was about 120 people deep most of the time but well worth it as they didn’t seem to run out of any sizes throughout the night! With one guy working his tail off and keeping the same smile and positive energy throughout the whole night, you could tell he was just as happy to have the band there as the rest of us were!
War on Women started promptly at 8 pm and played a great set. They were new to some of the audience so seeing them on this line up was a great experience.
Alkaline Trio had an awesome set as well. There were so many fans in the audience that at one point, Matt Skiba had the audience sing the chorus to the songs and it sounded like a beautiful choir with everyone singing in sync and on key. Of course, they played their smash hits, “Mercy Me”, “Clavicle”, and “Vein”.
Alkaline Trio ended their set with the song, “Radio” that seemed to have every single person in the Auditorium singing to. We were up on the balcony by this point where we had a fabulous view and the acoustics were phenomenal. You could hear the smiles on everyone’s faces as they joined in together singing the verse, “I’ve got a big fat fuckin’ bone to pick (band started back in and we all sing in unison) with you my darling, in case you haven’t heard I’m sick and tired of trying. I wish you would take my radio to bathe with you, plugged in and ready to fall…”
After that, the crowd became somewhat restless and excited waiting for the grand finale but before we knew it, the lights went dim, the massive banner on the back of the stage read, “Bad Religion” in their iconic Friz Quadrata Bold font (also the same font used in the Black Flag logo) in red with a black background, the stage was set and ready.
Bad Religion came out and immediately started with, “New Dark Ages”. During this song, drummer Jamie Miller raised his drum stick after smashing a cymbal and got it stuck in between his microphone cord and the stand. It happened so fast but when we checked back on our personal video taken with our iPhone, we saw it happen right before a stage hand ran up and pulled it out for him since he was in the middle of still playing the song. He played the situation off so well that unless you were watching him, you had no idea it had happened!
Front-man Greg Graffin is usually fairly tight-lipped between songs but right after this first song he spoke with the audience and thanked the crowd for coming and said at one point it felt like they were never going to play in front of a live audience again. To be fair, at one point it felt like we were never going to be IN a live audience ever again so we conquer, Greg!
They played all the favorites from their catalogue; “Come Join Us”, “Recipe for Hate”, “Damned to be Free”, “Conquer the World”, “Generator”, “Infected” and so much more!
The only song they played off their 1988 hit record, “Suffer” was, “Do What You Want” -also the title to their book released August 2020, “Do What You Want; The Story of Bad Religion” co-written by the band and punk writer extraordinaire, Jim Ruland.
Bad Religion ended the show with an exceptional version of, “American Jesus” only to give the crowd a flashback encore with, “We’re Only Ganna Die”, the first track off their first album in 1982, “How Could Hell Be Any Worse”. This song screams punk rock and for the last 40 years these guys have been playing this song reminding us they are undoubtedly one of the super group Godfathers of punk rock.
Bad Religion continues to tour with Alkaline Trio and War on Women till the remainder of November.
Some of these shows still have tickets available so be sure to check your local listings. If you have the chance to see them, you will want to take it. Bad Religion continues to rock any stage they step foot on and blow the audience away.