-->
Reviews

Bad Religion: Live at the Palladium [DVD]

Mark Weisinger

Bad Religion finally give the fans what they want -- a full-length DVD that captures the band's intensity and musicality in glorious 5.1.


Bad Religion

Live at the Palladium [DVD]

Label: WEA
US Release Date: 2006-03-07
UK Release Date: 2006-04-03
Amazon affiliate
Amazon
iTunes
The revolution will not be televised… the revolution will be live.
-- Gil Scott Heron

When Gil Scott Heron wrote these infamous lines, he could not have predicted the full onslaught of the DIY media age, nor could he have foreseen the effects that it would have on the larger culture. When he wrote his most famous song, videos weren't even a fledgling industry, and the VCR revolution was several years away. Today, even the smallest gesture can be recorded, replayed, and kept for posterity on a DVD or a PC.

This has yielded mixed results. On one hand, in the wrong hands, mass media can provide sensory overload and desensitization to the very artifacts it is attempting to preserve, making it all but impossible to sift through the vast array of information or entertainment at our disposal (been to youtube lately?). But occasionally, the ability to possess anything ever recorded onto film can yield great results. Such is the case with the still young industry of concert DVDs.

One of the most influential of the politically revolutionary punk bands, who share many of the same values and reservations as Gil Scott Heron, is Bad Religion. But due perhaps to the same DIY ethic that keeps them out of the mainstream (and caused fans no small consternation when they signed briefly to a major label), there has been a reluctance to memorialize the band effectively. Before now, to preserve a performance on high-quality film would be costly, and therefore would risk credibility, so fans have been content to own various low-quality, bootleg-looking visual records of the band. But no more.

It has been a long time coming, but Live at the Palladium is the kind of DVD that makes any other prior release practically obsolete. This is not to say that it is flawless, but simply that it is essential. For instance, the set list contains a substantial number of songs from The Empire Strikes First (six), but they do pick the strongest tracks (in the process, making that album sound a lot more solid than it actually is), and they evenly represent almost every stage in the band's 20-plus year-old career (excepting the Into the Unknown [an album the band has unanimously disavowed] and both of the final two albums made during Mr. Brett Gurewitz's self-imposed exile [although strangely, they do feature three songs from the first post-Gurewitz record, The Grey Race, including Greg Gaffin's chillingly beautiful solo piano rendition of "Cease"]).

The look and sound of the DVD are nothing short of amazing. For some reason, most bands, even some of the most successful, can't seem to produce a DVD that looks or sounds any better than a freshman film-student project (Cheap Trick leaps to mind). While Live at the Palladium may not be quite on the level with Martin Scorsese's The Last Waltz or Jonathan Demme's trinity (Stop Making Sense, Storefront Hitchcock and Heart of Gold), it is without a doubt, the best looking and sounding punk concert DVD on the market, with the possible exception of Green Day's American Idiot (a film that, while well-filmed, suffered from occasionally sluggish pacing, which is definitely not the case here). The sets are relatively simple but powerful, and the lighting, mostly in red and white to match the set's backdrop, is clear and rich, bolstered by a driving 5.1 mix.

While set lists, looks and sound are important, the most significant aspect of any performance DVD is the performance itself, and here is where Bad Religion truly deliver. They are, quite simply, gripping. While they've never been the textbook example of what "punk-cool" looks like (in fact, I often found myself thinking that Greg Gaffin is what Robert Pollard might resemble if he ever sobered up, got an age-appropriate haircut, and discovered that he had something significant to say), their down-to-earth look, especially that of Gaffin, dressed for casual Friday at your local real-estate office, serves only to drive home the point that this band has very little concern for the superficial. Instead, they focus their energy on ripping through a daunting catalog of material with enough enthusiasm and stamina to intimidate many bands half their age.

While the concert is amazing and exhilarating (not exhausting, amazingly, for a set list that includes 31 songs), what may be of equal interest to fans is the interview footage from band members spliced between sets of songs. While there is an option allowing the viewer to omit these interviews -- finally somebody gets it -- even the most casual curious fan would be well-served to leave the interviews in, at least the first time around, as they are fascinating, informative and well-paced.

While Gil Scott Heron may not have foreseen the possibilities of mass media in revolution, he was right about one thing: "The revolution will put you in the driver's seat." Now you can turn on the DVD player, pick your sound and vision options from the set-up menu, sit back, and prepare to be amazed by a truly remarkable concert from a revolutionary band.

8
Music

The Best Indie Rock of 2017

Photo courtesy of Matador Records

The indie rock genre is wide and unwieldy, but the musicians selected here share an awareness of one's place on the cultural-historical timeline.

Indie rock may be one of the most fluid and intangible terms currently imposed upon musicians. It holds no real indication of what the music will sound like and many of the artists aren't even independent. But more than a sonic indicator, indie rock represents a spirit. It's a spirit found where folk songsters and punk rockers come together to dialogue about what they're fed up with in mainstream culture. In so doing they uplift each other and celebrate each other's unique qualities.

With that in mind, our list of 2017's best indie rock albums ranges from melancholy to upbeat, defiant to uplifting, serious to seriously goofy. As always, it's hard to pick the best ten albums that represent the year, especially in such a broad category. Artists like King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard had a heck of a year, putting out four albums. Although they might fit nicer in progressive rock than here. Artists like Father John Misty don't quite fit the indie rock mold in our estimation. Foxygen, Mackenzie Keefe, Broken Social Scene, Sorority Noise, Sheer Mag... this list of excellent bands that had worthy cuts this year goes on. But ultimately, here are the ten we deemed most worthy of recognition in 2017.

Keep reading... Show less

From genre-busting electronic music to new highs in the ever-evolving R&B scene, from hip-hop and Americana to rock and pop, 2017's music scenes bestowed an embarrassment of riches upon us.


60. White Hills - Stop Mute Defeat (Thrill Jockey)

White Hills epic '80s callback Stop Mute Defeat is a determined march against encroaching imperial darkness; their eyes boring into the shadows for danger but they're aware that blinding lights can kill and distort truth. From "Overlord's" dark stomp casting nets for totalitarian warnings to "Attack Mode", which roars in with the tribal certainty that we can survive the madness if we keep our wits, the record is a true and timely win for Dave W. and Ego Sensation. Martin Bisi and the poster band's mysterious but relevant cool make a great team and deliver one of their least psych yet most mind destroying records to date. Much like the first time you heard Joy Division or early Pigface, for example, you'll experience being startled at first before becoming addicted to the band's unique microcosm of dystopia that is simultaneously corrupting and seducing your ears. - Morgan Y. Evans

Keep reading... Show less
Music

The Best Country Music of 2017

still from Midland "Drinkin' Problem" video

There are many fine country musicians making music that is relevant and affecting in these troubled times. Here are ten of our favorites.

Year to year, country music as a genre sometimes seems to roll on without paying that much attention to what's going on in the world (with the exception of bro-country singers trying to adopt the latest hip-hop slang). That can feel like a problem in a year when 58 people are killed and 546 are injured by gun violence at a country-music concert – a public-relations issue for a genre that sees many of its stars outright celebrating the NRA. Then again, these days mainstream country stars don't seem to do all that well when they try to pivot quickly to comment on current events – take Keith Urban's muddled-at-best 2017 single "Female", as but one easy example.

Keep reading... Show less

It's ironic that by injecting a shot of cynicism into this glorified soap opera, Johnson provides the most satisfying explanation yet for the significance of The Force.

Despite J.J. Abrams successfully resuscitating the Star Wars franchise with 2015's Star Wars: The Force Awakens, many fans were still left yearning for something new. It was comforting to see old familiar faces from a galaxy far, far away, but casual fans were unlikely to tolerate another greatest hits collection from a franchise already plagued by compositional overlap (to put it kindly).

Keep reading... Show less
7

Yeah Yeah Yeahs played a few US shows to support the expanded reissue of their debut Fever to Tell.

Although they played a gig last year for an after-party for a Mick Rock doc, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs hadn't played a proper NYC show in four years before their Kings Theatre gig on November 7th, 2017. It was the last of only a handful of gigs, and the only one on the East coast.

Keep reading... Show less
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 Popmatters.com. All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.

rating-image