You're not going to see the Bad Brains of thirty years ago, so go ahead and just get that idea out of your head right now. The ferocious, manic energy of eccentric lead singer H.R. has been all but muted by years of drug use and seeming mental instability. But the original line-up is playing on Friday, April 22 at Summit Music Hall, which is reason enough for any fan of punk or metal to attend.
Still on the fence? Here are a few reasons you should go:
1. First and foremost, the instrumentation by Dr. Know, Darryl Jenifer and Earl Hudson has remained just as tight and powerfully executed (judging from recent performances) as ever.
2. The band still plays much of its old material off the classic, self-titled ROIR sessions LP.
3. If you've been to a punk show any time in the last three decades, you've likely:
A) Heard a band cover a song by the Bad Brains, often too much for it be amusing any longer. B) Smoked weed outside the venue and made jokes about the Bad Brains. C) Listened to a band influenced by the Bad Brains, either directly or indirectly.
4. The thrilling, anticipatory drum beat at the beginning of "The Big Takeover"
5. While you will never see Minor Threat, SSD, Black Flag or any of their early '80s hardcore contemporaries (you can still see the Cro-Mags, easily the band that took the most influence from them), you can see the Bad Brains, inexplicable as it may be. Bucket list, baby.
Here are the Bad Brains just about a week ago at Emo's in Austin during SXSW.
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And here they are back then, led by the dreadless H.R., performing the same song:
And finally as a public service, here is the version of that song, "Right Brigade" from the album: