Up first, the Bronx. The Los Angelenos brought an abundance of energy to their set, but no audible innovations to the punk genre. Reminding everyone outside the scarce pit of their favorite '80s innovators of the arena, the crowd's hold on the bar overmatched the music's grip on the mass.
Still, this was a punk show of regal proportions. People came with a purpose; such a purpose they were shut out before the Bronx even closed its set. One man's overheard slurring encapsulated his lack of awareness, all while starting with the most-used quote of the night: "Dude, it's a Bad Religion show, why aren't we inside?"
Whether it was still allowed in Pop's or just in the pit, those who didn't have a Bad Religion tattoo left understanding why they'd been swayed to see a bunch of 50-year-olds play hard, fast punk. The guys' have gone strong for "33 years" by Greg Graffin's count -- bookending 16 studio albums with "How Could Hell Be Any Worse" ('82) and "True North" ('13) while literally opening the doors for one-time label mates Rancid and the Offspring. Only water bottles were spotted on-stage for the group who remarked that its first St. Louis tour stop coincided with the year I was born, at a venue that ran Graffin's vocals "through a bass amp."
Kicking off a "True North" heavy set, "Past is Dead" instantly had the crowd's fists raised. Better yet, it marked the red rover-like line that powered its way from the bar to the pit; perfectly pissing off everyone to set in motion a show-long mosh. Artfully cherry-picking from the band's discography, the band urges a message that typically gets summed up in "Fuck Armageddon...This is Hell!," "Sanity" (is a full time job), and "Come Join Us," an immaculate satire of religion.
Regardless, in response to the crowd's boisterous applause to Greg's "old, good shit" comment, Brett Gurewitz reassured us they have "new, good shit, too." The same Brett that founded Epitaph Records at the age of 19 serves as the label's president to this day -- and stuck around for autographs in the pit post-show.
The frenetic moshing kept up with the band's driving guitars all night, and both earned an encore. The band even admitted its crowds always get what they want. Shortly thereafter "Infected" was unleashed upon the crowd. With newly minted Crossbuster-bearers on their side and having essentially played over two albums worth for the set, Bad Religion finally called it a night, comfortable in the missive's reception for the time being.
Past Is Dead
We're Only Gonna Die
New Dark Ages
I Want to Conquer the World
21st Century (Digital Boy)
Overture / Sinister Rouge
Dharma and the Bomb
Recipe for Hate
Nothing to Dismay
Do What You Want
Beyond Electric Dreams
Come Join Us
Against the Grain
Fuck Armageddon...This is Hell!
Dept. of False Hope