Review: Bad Religion, Nofx, and Pour Habit, Auckland Town Hall, 04/10/09 by underground

New Zealand doesn’t get too many bands visit from overseas, let alone two heavy-weights at one single show. So when news broke earlier this year that Bad Religion and Nofx would play the Auckland Town Hall together, the punk scene was stoked.

Name any modern punk band and either Bad Religion or Nofx influenced their sound or gave them their break. Both bands born in the earlier 1980s, they have led the way for countless other bands, and are still going strong as Nofx surpasses 25 years and 30 years beckon for Bad Religion.

One of the hordes of bands who owe a lot to these pioneers is Pour Habit, a recent Fat Wreck Chords signing, who opened the Town Hall show. Hailing from Compton, CA, Pour Habit is really unlike most punk bands we see on our shores. Soundwise, the vocalist, an acrobatic African American, reminds me of early Tim McIlrath (Rise Against), and the band is heavy, with souring Strung Out-esque guitar solos and thunderous drumming.

Considering punk is usually about equality, acceptance and (sometimes) inclusiveness, it is a shame the scene isn’t more diverse. Hopefully Pour Habit will break more stereotypes and entice more non-whiteys away from rap and RnB and towards punk.

On to the main show, and the self-proclaimed “Sultans of Slander” took to the stage. Well known as a band who talk a lot between songs Nofx did not stray from convention, with more talk than Muammar al-Gaddafi at the United Nations before they’d even played a note, with Fat Mike quipping the instruments were “props”. Apart from a few exceptions the band played a very different setlist than previous visits, which would have pleased those who had seen them before, but likely disappointed new-comers to the band. Nonetheless the band played with enthusiasm and got nothing less from the packed crowd, with mayhem on the floor and the balconies.

With all the banter and a few rubbish songs performed, Nofx could have thrown in The Decline or a few other crowd pleasers, but with Nofx, fans should understand to expect no more than 70 or so percent.

Bad Religion took up their positions on the stage and got right into Los Angeles is Burning. They sounded flat and unenthusiastic. The single was followed by much debate and a hasty sound check. The crowd got restless but the work was worth it, as the sound was greatly improved as was the attitude of the band. Bad Religion came to please and so wanted the best sound possible. Many songs were made heavier, with the guitars producing the heaviest-sounding palm-muting imaginable, which gave the songs extra fury. Drummer Brooks Wackerman was a marvel, beyond describable. Surprisingly Bad Religion only played one track of their latest album New Maps of Hell (2007), instead playing several from Recipe for Hate, the Grey Race and many from the early 1980s.

Next year should see a new album from the world’s greatest band, and if we’re lucky, having found a shores for the first time in only 2007, Bad Religion will be back. If they do, don’t miss it for the world, as they are one hell of a fine live band.


Music to vote to by underground

As elections loom in New Zealand and the United States, some songs become particularly relevant. Before I cast my vote on November 8th, my MP3 player will probably be playing Bad Religion’s “I want to conquer the world”, or “You are the government”. I fear the following day it might be “Fuck Armageddon, this is hell”! I think American’s would be best listening to Nofx’s “The idiots are taking over”, with a line that could almost refer to Sarah Palin. Hopefully they will be playing a more optimistic song the following day!

Alright, here are my top ten (modern) punk songs to vote to: Continue reading

Review: Bad Religion – New Maps of Hell Deluxe Edition by underground

The cynics among us sees re-releases of albums as little more than poorly disguised attempts to squeeze every last cent from adoring fans. Bad Religion’s deluxe edition of 2007’s New Maps of Hell, is more than just a slipcase, an artwork booklet, a bonus DVD and a couple of “classic” posters.

The original 16-track album was, arguably, the punk album of 2007, despite concerns from some fans they had sold out, after the first single “Honest Goodbye” showed a slower, softer side to the band. Such fears were allayed, however, as the album mixed the passion and pace of their eighties’ releases and the precision and song quality of their later albums. The classic Bad Religion sound rings throughout, from the vocal backing “oozin’ aahs”, the fast power-chords, the melodic leads, to the thunderous trademark drumming.



So is it worth fans buying the deluxe edition if they already own the original album? Continue reading

That’s not punk! by underground

What the punk?

Yes that’s right, punk is dead
It’s just another cheap product for the consumers head
Bubblegum rock on plastic transistors
Schoolboy sedition backed by big time promoters
CBS promote the Clash
Ain’t for revolution, it’s just for cash
Punk became a fashion just like hippy used to be
Ain’t got a thing to do with your or me
Punk is Dead – Crass

Punk died in the 1980s. I wish they’d stop trying to resurrect it. I’ve debated this over and over. Punk is dead, kids. Get over it.” Urban dictionary

Punk rock isn’t any more alive and thriving today than psychedelic rock or new wave. As far as the broader culture is concerned, it’s been dead for awhile and it ain’t coming back.J.P. Gorman

Is punk dead? Having now fractured into so many sub-genres, it can be easy to see why people would look back 20-30 years if asked what music is punk. Additionally, considering the only punk music that gets any real exposure is pop punk, with lyrics typically about romance or bratty teenagers, or emo, which I will refrain from attacking, it is understandable that many people would believe the punk ethos to have either died, or to have dispersed elsewhere. However my friends, punk is not dead. It has, however, evolved and thankfully matured from its chaotic and often unintelligent infancy. Continue reading

Atheism – The Musical by underground

Every week I like to post quotes I have come across that I find thought provoking or sum up my opinion on something succinctly, and with wit. Instead, for a change, I’m going to occasionally select half a dozen songs that reflect my views on some particular issue. I’m going to start with my favourite band, on a topic of interest to me.

Here is Bad Religion on faith, God and atheism.

Bad Religion, as the name might suggest, are fairly critical of religion in their songs. That is perhaps an understatement! But instead of the mindless anti-religious abuse some bands have popularised, Bad Religion’s objections are considered and reasoned. This may have something to do with the bands front man Greg Graffin having a doctorate in evolutionary biology, but even before he obtained his degree the band has made intelligent philosophical statements in their music. Song writing duties are split between vocalist Graffin and guitarist Brett Gurewitz, and both musicians are equally capable of writing thought provoking intelligent lyrics.

So perhaps in the way the religious people reaffirm their beliefs through song, Bad Religion has written the perfect hymns for non-believers. However, Greg says in the song “No direction”, “no Bad Religion song can make your life complete”. They can make you stop and think though.

I’ve decided to be quite selective and only choose half a dozen Bad Religion songs, although there are of course many more to choose from. I’ve chosen no more than one from any one album, and added my interpretation of what I feel the song conveys. Enjoy. Continue reading

The Crusade of the Nonbelievers by underground

As the onslaught of atheist book releases continues, I will attempt to briefly review those books that I have tackled in my pursuit of knowing exactly what I do believe as an atheist.

It was an Australian comedian who alerted me to my own ignorance. In the hilarious TV series “John Safran vs God“, John goes around taking the piss out of various religions, all in a fairly good-natured manner. He highlights the absurdity of some faiths and the hypocrisy of others. Great viewing for people of all faiths and no faith. After years of being out of bounds, religions finally got the satirical critique they deserve. Atheism did not get off easy though either. In one stinging segment, he singled out atheists for their arrogance, pointing out that most atheists happily ridicule fantastical creation myths, but have no grasp of their own belief in the beginning of the universe or man. Could they describe the Big Bang theory or evolution?

At the time I was a convinced atheist, but although I knew what I did not believe in and why, I had little to no idea what I did believe in. A dozen books later, I think I might be a little a closer to knowing what I believe. Continue reading

Punk forums by underground
April 2, 2008, 3:25 am
Filed under: Journalism, Music | Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Perhaps the best place to gauge how fans feel about a recent album release is the band’s myspace page. The message board posts comprise of either the positive “love your new album” “please come to our city”, “your band inspires me” comments or the negative “that’s not punk”, “you’ve sold out”, “I used to like you guys”, “you’ve gone emo” comments, reflecting fans discontentment of their favourite bands new release. Continue reading