Bad Religion: Live at the Palladium: DVD

Jun 05, 2007

          I’ve long had a love/hate relationship with Bad Religion—I pretty much adore their early work and pretty much loathe their later work. It isn’t so much about the whole “sellout” thing as it is about slick production and the professionalism that crept into their work, which, to me, sapped the energy and immediacy out of anything they did. Not that I hated everything they did later on—I’ll admit a fondness for “Los Angeles Is Burning” off the last album, and I appreciate the topicality of their lyrics—but on the whole it moves me about as much as your average Def Leppard album, which to me runs completely contrary to what punk was/is supposed to be about. Ultimately boils down to personal preference, I guess. If that three guitar attack played through state of the art equipment and that big rock sound float your boat, I tip my hat to ye. I crank up “Voice of God Is Government” and revel in Brett’s slightly off-kilter guitar and all that agro that’s missing from their current output. I feel the same about what’s presented on the disc in question. The bulk, a live set recorded at the Hollywood Palladium, is all gloss and slickness, with eleven cameras capturing every movement onstage and the band running through a “best of” selection from nearly their entire catalogue. The band seems amiable, their performance is pitch-perfect and the kids in the audience seem to be eating the proceedings up, yet the whole spectacle feels about as edgy and spontaneous as a Britney Spears video. Frankly, I’ll leave that part of this DVD for the punters to fawn over. What really got my blood going was the “bonus” footage of the band performing on the legendary, sorely missed New Wave Theatre, footage (it’s a goddamned shame that, in an era where entire seasons of crap television shows are released on DVD, a show as creative, visionary and downright essential as New Wave Theatre continues to gather dust on a shelf and wallow in obscurity) that, while is sloppy, out of tune, and poorly mixed, conveys more spirit and sincerity in less than ten minutes than the Palladium footage manages to convey in more than an hour. –Jimmy Alvarado (Epitaph, 2798 Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90026