Bad Brains with H2O at the Paradise, Boston 4-16-2012
Big Black – Bad Penny
(excuses for the rambling. It's not even stream of consciousness, it's subconscious, I'm nowhere near awake enough to do a good job, we'll get through it)
H2o opened, and I have to admit that they were a litte "after my time" for hardcore bands (1996), but I was peripherally aware of them at the time. You know, since I'm 37 and therefore I'm from back in Historical Times, when burgers cost 15 cents and I could get into a movie for a quarter. They were great, pretty much sounded like "Epitaph Band", which it turned out they were. I did recognize a couple songs and they did some good Ian MacKaye birthday tributes in covers and dropping Minor Threat phrases here and there. They had lots of local support and we were all really into it.
It did depress me when Toby Morse did a song from the pit, and said "I'm 42, so you know, don't hurt me", and I was like "shit, you're the 'noob' from 1996, and now you're 42, I wanna hang myself". For the record, Ian MacKaye is now 50. The photos of them largely sucked, but I've got a couple for posterity.
As for Bad Brains, it's hard to say anything new about them. You can't possibly overestimate the impact they had on hardcore, not just in musical influence, but just encouraging other musicians to do their own different things. "Ian, you want to live clean and play loud music? Go do that, make it your thing", now we have straight-edge. Giving Henry Rollins exposure, it's just crazy what they've done. Nevermind they're probably the best actual musicians in hardcore. Steve Albini might be on a plane to pay me a visit right now, who knows.
I came into the show with some foreknowledge of the New H.R., we saw him open for Big Audio Dynamite, and it was a seriously different experience than I expected. All the songs had these soaring shredding solos on this Flying V with dreads everywhere and tight pants, and then there's HR with this serene grin singing to himself more than anyone into the mic. It wasn't bad, it was totally different from Bad Brains as I knew them, but it prepared me for hippie rasta H.R.
H.R. has developed a serene presence, seeing all the chaos he's causing, and just smiling into the mic and singing softly with the wailing catastrophe happening around him. No more real screaming, certainly no more running and jumping into the crowd for this guy. I'd say you really can't maintain that at 56, but then Al Jourgensen happens. PMA. Re-Ignition, I Against I, Pay to Cum just destroyed the crowd and still give you energy after going on 30 years, it's rare that I see a band carry that much energy forward for so long. People will still go to see a Dead Milkmen, or Iggy Pop, but it's usually just not as fresh.
I also had some mixed feelings even then about giving that guy my money because of his past viciously homophobic views. He seems to have mellowed, and Darryl Jennifer actually laid it out well, in that they were going through the zealotry of Newfound Religion, and that they've all grown and such. I still hope H.R. has taken his self-given name a bit more seriously in the last 20 years, and he seems to have. 20 years ago I wouldn't have given him $25, and would have missed great shows because of it.
Anyway... The crowd was one of the best most fun I've been in in a very long time. There were no skinheads starting fights, no one up front unable to hold their own, everyone just jumping around having fun. Some guy even apologized to me for pulling my hair, and again another time for pulling out my earplugs(buy them, they're AWESOME, hear everything but don't go deaf.) and handed them back to me. Shockingly great eye-hand coordination on that guy to not just have dropped 'em. I pretty much know that I'm going to lose lots of hair at shows, so I kind of just live with it.
As I expected, I got very few decent photos from this show, but H.R. really is the dream model now. He stands perfectly still 90% of the time, and just smiles and sings softly, almost to himself, and somehow unleashes ENERGY into 750 sweaty jumping diving. Here we go. This is as hard as I've had to try to get any usable photos in a long, long time.
H2o (Flickr Set):
I think I probably worked harder to get this exact photo of Darryl Jenifer than I have on anything in a long time, from the pit. Shows what happens when you maintain a positive mental attitude::
Give Thanks and Praises
I & I Survive
Banned In DC
I Luv I Jah
At the Movies
Pay To Cum
I Against I
New Joint (I didn't catch if they were calling this anything)