While Bad Brains may not have the frenetic stage energy of three decades ago, the hardcore godfathers still managed to fuel quite a few mosh pits over the course of its 45-minute set at a packed Summit Music Hall.
Early on in the set, the band drew from its 1982 self-titled debut, which Beastie Boys' Adam Yauch dubbed "the best punk/hardcore album of all time," and fired out vigorous takes on "Attitude," "Right Brigade," "Sailin' On" and "The Regulator." On these cuts frontman Paul "HR" Hudson played an Ibanez hollowbody guitar using mostly his thumb, which isn't the easiest thing to do when playing punk. Meanwhile the rest of the band, which included the original line-up of guitarist Dr. Know, bassist Darryl Jenifer and drummer Earl Hudson, all sounded quite tight.
Before slowing it down on the reggae of "Jah Love," from the band's latest effort, 1997's Yauch-produced Build a Nation, a HR put down the guitar and sang the song with his hands in his pants pockets and pretty much standing still. While the next few cuts, "Give Thanks and Praises" and "Universal Peace," also from Build a Nation, packed a lot of punch, HR essentially stood in the same place, hands in pockets. It was kind of surreal juxtaposition seeing HR hardly moving during some of the heavier cuts or the fast as hell hardcore of "F.V.K.," especially after seeing footage of the band at CBGB in 1982 when HR was a frenzied madman on stage.
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Following the reggae and dub "I and I Survive," HR almost looked liked he was close to falling asleep during "At the Movies." The band closed out the short set with some powerful takes on "Re-Ignition" and "Pay to Cum" and then ended the night with the one song encore of "I Against I." CRITIC'S NOTEBOOK Personal Bias: While these guys kicked ass musically, I was hoping HR might have been more animated. Random Detail: The show was over by 11 p.m., giving people more than enough time to head over to the Larimer Lounge to check out fellow '80s stalwart Mike Watt. By the Way: Although I missed the first band, the Other Russia, Frontside Five motored through a very strong set and got the crowd thoroughly warmed up for Bad Brains.
Intro Attitude Right Brigade Sailin' On The Regulator Jah Love Give Thanks and Praises Universal Peace F.V.K. I and I Survive At the Movies Re-Ignition Pay to Cum
Encore I against I