VIENNA, VA April, 27, 2012 — Approximating the value of a Bad Brains show is difficult to do. Audience expectations when Bad Brains finally took the stage at the Howard Theater were overwhelming. However those expectations never quite fit the parameters of enjoyment and disappointment that a normal band might encounter.
This makes sense because Bad Brains is far from a normal band.
Bad Brains is one of the most critically revered bands to ever come out of Washington, DC and in the District they still hold a lot of sway, as evidenced by the “popular demand” addition of a second show. Not that this is surprising as Bad Brains holds a distinct importance, not only in the scene they helped create but also within the larger context.
Starting as a fusion band in the late ‘70s, the bands introduction to punk rock came some time shortly thereafter. As was the case with many punk bands following the the Ramones came along, Bad Brains adopted Punk Rocks speed and into their own sound. Along with defunct contemporaries such as Black Flag and DC native Minor Threat, Bad Brains quickly becoming one of the most highly regarded bands in the hardcore punk scene of the ‘80s.
Bad Brains always stuck out in what is a predominantly white musician genre. By the time they recorded their first full length in the early ‘80s, they were already experimenting with adding touches of reggae into their sound on top of getting harder and heavier drives with each album.
The conflicts between their major influences is one of things driving the band and their sound.
During their live set, so many of the songs started off light and calm before blowing up. The band was always known for their speed and relative ferocity when they decided to pick up the tempo of things. It’s not unlikely that a band collectively over the age of 50 would start to mellow a good bit, and in the case of front man H.R. they haven’t slowed down their sound one bit.
Of course that’s why it’s so hard to judge a band like Bad Brains. At this point in their careers, is it enough to just see a band like Bad Brains? Is it enough to witness Bad Brains knowing full well that while the band is legendary in their own right, they can’t exactly perform in the same way as they did dingy punk clubs of the ‘80s?
The majority of the crowd at the Howard Theater wasn’t old enough to see Bad Brains in their 80’s prime, which has been immortalized in various documentaries and expecting that kind of raucous stage performance seen on footage is probably expecting too much out of them. H.R., Dr. Know, and Darryl Jennifer aren’t going to bounce around furiously like the recorded video of the epic shows show them doing.
Truth be told though, that 80’s band doesn’t exist anymore. Musically they still pack the same punch and the audience on the floor of the Howard Theater certainly did their part to siphon off the energy Bad Brains was creating.
It’s just not the same kind of energy the legend of Bad Brains would suggest.
Which may sound a bit dismissive now but it shouldn’t. Bad Brains can still rock out, but the point of seeing them now is to pay tribute to the remarkable legacy of a great and progressive band.
Still, true to form, that’s not something Bad Brains is worried about and if their show is any indication, they still plan on pushing forward.
This article is the copyrighted property of the writer and Communities @ WashingtonTimes.com. Written permission must be obtained before reprint in online or print media. REPRINTING TWTC CONTENT WITHOUT PERMISSION AND/OR PAYMENT IS THEFT AND PUNISHABLE BY LAW.