Fourteen years after their last concert in the city limits, Los Angeles’ Bad Religion finally return to Buffalo on Nov. 5.
The show was originally scheduled on April 8, 2020, as part of Bad Religion’s 40th anniversary tour with Alkaline Trio. The tour was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Some of the players have changed since their 2007 gig at the Town Ballroom. Original members Greg Graffin (singer) and Jay Bentley (bass), along with longtime guitarist Brian Baker remain, while drummer Jamie Miller has replaced Brooks Wackerman. Mike Dimkich has taken over the guitar spot left by Greg Hetson’s exit.
This lineup, along with founding guitarist and Epitaph Records boss Brett Gurewitz (who rarely plays live), recorded Bad Religion’s most recent album, 2019’s Age of Unreason, which cut deep at life under Donald Trump while refocusing and tightening the band’s output.
With 2020 shows scrapped, Bad Religion stayed busy with a series of streaming concert episodes titled Decades, which let the band dive into fan favorites and live rarities from their entire catalog, including their scrappy beginnings and discovery of their signature buzzsaw sound in the 1980s; their maturation and commercial flirtations of the 1990s; the band’s creative rebirth with the return of Gurewitz and addition of Wackerman in the 2000s; and their consistent progression through the 2010s. The episodes make a fitting companion to “Do What You Want,” the Bad Religion collaborative autobiography released in 2020.
“Do What You Want” follows the bands winding journey from suburban outcasts in the rough early 80s LA punk scene to perhaps the most prolific and influential American punk band ever. Graffin, who has a Ph.D. in zoology from Cornell University, has written several books himself, mainly focused on the topics of evolution and religion. Graffin now lectures on evolution at Cornell.
Through 40-plus years, Bad Religion has avoided the dreaded creative ebb that so many veteran rock bands fall into in their later years. This is a band that won’t accept getting by simply on the weight of their legacy.
“To me, I can tell you that we’re not interested in becoming a heritage act, and if it comes to the point where we’re not able to continually, you know, expand on what we’re doing… if the art is dead, and it’s just a reenactment, no one’s gonna want to do it,” Baker said in a 2019 Buffalo Rising interview.
“Also, if it’s not fun anymore. I mean, it sounds kind of, you know, level one, but this has to be a good time, and we just love playing. And if it ever feels like work, then you know what? It probably is. And it might be time to get a better job.”
Bad Religion plays with Alkaline Trio and War on Women at Buffalo Riverworks on Nov. 5. The show begins at 7 p.m. Tickets are available here.