Bad Religion excavate their 20th-century roots at The Regency Ballroom

Bad ReligionPhotos by Greg RaMar // Written by Molly Kish //

Bad Religion with Adolescents, 5 Days Dirty //
The Regency Ballroom – San Francisco
April 19th, 2015 //

Bad Religion’s “Battle of the Centuries” tour hit The Regency Ballroom this past Sunday for the first of two nights in SF. Pitting the punk band’s early-era (1980-2000) material against its modern-day equivalent, Bad Religion’s current tour will extend through the end of June and revolves around a series of dates scheduled as a two-night bill as a way to highlight tracks from their extensive 35-year catalog.

5 Days Dirty

5 Days Dirty

Warming up the sold-out crowd, local act 5 Days Dirty opened the evening off with a somewhat confusing set filled with angsty pop punk. Donning Taylor Swift and mock tuxedo shirts, the band, although vocally charged and technically proficient, seemed a bit out of place in preceding two of hardcore punk’s most iconic bands. Whether the decision to book the group was an intentional tongue-and-cheek nod to the genre’s current state of affairs or simply a local spotlight, it provided the perfect amount of distaste in the crowd salivating for raw, old-school punk.



Up next on the bill was SoCal supergroup Adolescents. Mirroring a legacy similar to that of Bad Religion — though much more fractured — the band has also remained a part of the hardcore punk-rock scene for more than 30 years, serving as an influence for many of the genre’s contemporary artists and fans. It was during this set full of ear-splitting distortion that not only the speakers blew out, but also the crowd finally started to kick it into high gear. Filling out the main ballroom was an audience of middle-aged punks who started to stir, anxiously awaiting the perfect time to unleash amongst their punk-rock peers.

About halfway through their set of two-minute thrash anthems, Adolescents seized the moment. Recognizing the crowd was at a boiling point, lead singer Tony Cadena launched into an extended “Aaaaaaah …”, coursing the audience into a full-blown scream during the band’s quintessential call-to-arms track “Amoeba”. A huge circular mosh pit exploded on the main floor and remained rampant throughout the show.

Bad Religion

Bad Religion

With the energy at an all-time high and the venue packed to the brim, Bad Religion finally took the stage. With its token Crossbuster logo banner back lit and hanging high, the band entered stage right in dramatic fashion to the “Jesus Christ Superstar” soundtrack blaring through the Regency’s re-calibrated speakers.

A true showman, lead singer Greg Graffin immediately commanded the crowd, raising the collective energy to a fever pitch before the six-piece broke into an explosive 34-song set. Hearing the LA band rip through some of the most impassioned punk-rock ballads still contextually pertinent to this day felt near spiritual at times, especially when I stopped to look around and witnessed the audience’s reaction to such hyper-evocative material.

Bad Religion lead singer Greg Graffin

Bad Religion lead singer Greg Graffin

Only ever breaking pace to joke about the absurd amount of songs they were covering on their current tour, Bad Religion recognized how each night has been a dually cathartic process, playing hard and sounding just as flawless as ever. Each song they performed inspired crowd banter and shared choruses amongst complete strangers who were euphorically lost in the moment.

After Sunday’s show, it’s safe to say that in SF, the spirit of the 20th-century punk-rock scene never left and was justifiably resurrected at The Regency Ballroom.

Spirit Shine
Recipe for Hate
We’re Only Gonna Die
Stranger Than Fiction
Against the Grain
Sowing the Seeds of Utopia
You Are (The Government)
1000 More Fools
How Much Is Enough?
Delirium of Disorder
Do What You Want
The Gray Race
Part III
The Hopeless Housewife
Modern Man
No Direction
Change of Ideas
Big Bang
I Want to Conquer the World
Struck a Nerve
The Handshake
American Jesus

Along the Way
New America
Fuck Armageddon… This Is Hell


  1. I think I made a huge mistake by skipping this…

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