Bad Brains steamrolled through Philadelphia last Thursday with a mesmerizing performance to a sold-out crowd at the Trocadero Theatre with support from Wu Tang Clan front man, GZA and Maryland reggae rockers, Lionize.
It’s hard to believe Bad Brains have been kicking for 34 years with a growing legacy as one of the most influential American bands of all-time. Even through the band’s tumultuous periods it has become impossible to overlook this group’s unique contributions to our musical corpus; the music world was simply a different landscape before and after Bad Brains.
It’s doubtful anyone could have predicted that four musically gifted musicians from Washington D.C., who originally started out as the jazz-rock fusion band Mind Power, would become enthralled by English punk rock and reggae’s Rastafarian movement to eventually pioneer the speedy sub genre of punk, known today as hardcore. These members of Mind Power became so obsessed with punk music they would change the name of the band to Bad Brains after The Ramones song, “Bad Brain.”
Although history has defined Bad Brains as a hardcore band, their music incorporates much more than fast punk structures. Since the 80s, Bad Brains have been comfortable constructing speedy punk movements that are intertwined with metal, guitar solos, and brilliantly executed reggae. “I and I Survive” may very well be the most recognized American reggae song of all time, which a packed audience at the Trocadero Theatre swooned over.
Once Lionize wrapped up a solid set of house reggae, Wu Tang Clan member GZA took the stage. The rapper whom Method Man famously describes as “the head” of the nine-man rap outfit in groundbreaking debut album Enter The 36 Chambers, tore through a set of solo material with Wu hits sprinkled in to the delight of the audience. Wu’s Masta Killa even made a cameo as he performed several hits throughout the evening as an unexpected bonus.
Once known for unhinged live performances of unprecedented energy with a constant air of unpredictability, the now middle-aged members of Bad Brains still evoke an aura of hardcore’s glory days, but do so with an aged sense of experience and dare I say refinement. After cruising through more than 15 songs, Bad Brains closed with a new song from a yet untitled forthcoming release. It will be very interesting to see what these pioneers do next.
Our Senior Staff Photographer Dante Torrieri was on hand to capture a fantastic set of photos for your viewing pleasure..
Without further ado..
All photos by Dante Torrieri of Useless Rebel Imaging.
Words by Joshua T. Cohen
“Pay to Cum” is the first single recorded by Bad Brains. Recorded in 1979, released 1980.
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Bad Brains – “Attitude” – Bad Brains – LP – 1982
Bad Brains – “I and I Survive” – Rock for Light – 1983
GZA – “Liquid Swords” – Liquid Swords – 1995
GZA Ft Method Man – “Shadowboxing” – Liquid Swords – 1995