Bad Religion

Copenhell - 2014

Text: Tobias Nilsson Photo: Lunah Lauridsen

Just like Monster Magnet, Bad Religion was one of those bands that the younger me worshipped back in the 90ies, and while I still quite enjoy listening to their music I haven’t exactly kept up to date with all of their releases since then.
Also just like Monster Magnet, Bad Religion is a band that I haven’t seen live before and they were for this very reason one of the bands I was looking the most forward to on this years’ Copenhell.

“This is a good way to start your morning – bacon, eggs and Bad Religion!”
- Greg Graffin (vocals)

Simplicity was the recipe for the day as Bad Religion took the Helvíti stage – a small backdrop, a few stage amps, and that was it. Well, not everyone needs a giant stage production like Iron Maiden to perform, and in the hands of punk rock legends Bad Religion it would probably have seen very misplaced.
Bad Religion began by pouring their love on us with the song Fuck You from their latest full-length, True North. Sadly, someone somewhere had messed dreadfully up and the sound up front (where you’re supposed to be at a show like this) was absolutely dreadful! The drumming of Brooks Wackerman was all we heard, and even though he certainly knows how to play I was disappointed because I had come for the music as a whole… Not being intimately acquainted with a lot of the material they played didn’t make the situation any easier.
Another source of disappointment was the fact that it seemed to be a bit early for the band as well – even though they moved about a bit, their personal energy did in no way live up to the energy promised by the material.

There was one positive side that shone through clearly, and that was that even though Copenhell is in every aspect a metal festival, there was still plenty of room for an old punk rock band to visit.
Not only had Bad Religion secured a spot on the main stage, but they had also gathered a very large amount of the festival visitors for their gig. True, there wasn’t much action going on in the crowd either, but when it came to singing along to classics from Stranger Than Fiction and the like, everyone was good and ready.
The response to Graffin’s little joke about only rock stars being allowed to go out on the catwalk but wanting to try it out anyway was also so overwhelming that the frontman hurried back to the safety of the stage with the comment; ”Wow, that was awkward!”

I should highlight that the constantly smiling bassist Jay Bentley, alongside the energetic rocking Wackerman, did lift the show, whereas the constant chewing-gum chewing of Mike Dimkich was quite unbecoming – his guitar work was fine though.
A lot of similarities with Monster Magnet have been made, but unlike the aforementioned band which swept me off my feet with their show, Bad Religion turned out to be a sore disappointment. I didn’t mind the mostly unfamiliar setlist in any way because my experience tells me that Bad Religion’s songs are easily accessible and quick to enjoy, but the bad sound and the lacking energy from the band was definitely something that killed it for me. Maybe they just couldn’t carry the size of the stage? I do believe it would have been better on a smaller one where we would have been more intimate ad closer, but I guess we’ll never know…

Setlist (incomplete):

Fuck You
Modern Man
Stranger Than Fiction
Flat Earth Society
True North
Can’t Stop It
I Want To Conquer The World
21st Century (Digital Boy)
New Dark Ages
Atomic Garden
You Are (The Government)
Do What You Want
Dept. Of False Hope
American Jesus

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