Bad Brains

Pub date September 8, 2009
SectionMusicSectionMusic Features

PREVIEW Most Bad Brains fans can remember where they were the first time they heard the DC hardcore legends’ self-titled debut (ROIR, 1982.) For me, it was during an extended drive through Utah with my parents, a trip made memorable by a fortuitous stop at a strip mall with a Sam Goody. (My Damaged story is a lot cooler, I swear.) The album did nothing to improve my PMA during the car ride, but I vividly remember finding Bad Brains’ sheer unhinged speediness awe-inspiring, and not a little disorienting. Though somewhat of a cliché at this point, it bears repeating that Bad Brains — all 34 breakneck minutes of it — started an arms race of speed and aggression that would germinate into the hardcore movement. The other side to the record, however, was the handful of incongruous reggae/dub tracks, measured interruptions to the album’s typical rock ‘n’ roll onslaught. By their third album, I Against I (SST, 1986), Bad Brains had begun mixing the two genres more fluidly, resulting in what would become the band’s trademark style.

Aside from establishing themselves as genre pioneers too singular for flat-out imitation, Bad Brains have also gained the reputation of being some of rock’s most volatile live performers, with all the pros and cons that title carries. Stories of vocalist (or "throat," as he’s memorably identified as in the liner notes) H.R.’s epileptic stage presence are the stuff of punk rock folklore, making concerts unpredictable affairs to be sure. Lucky for us, he’ll be anchored by the original lineup: Darryl Jennifer on bass, Earl Hudson on drums, Dr. Know on guitar, natch. Our Summer rager-mode has deactivated; it’s time for reignition. 

BAD BRAINS With P.O.S., Trouble Andrew. Tues/15–Wed/16, 8 p.m. (doors 7 p.m.), $26, all ages. Slim’s, 333 11th St. (415) 255-0333.>.