So I watched the Bad Brains live at CBGB’s
from 1982 movie. I had glanced at it yesterday when I wrote about seeing them
that year at Irving Plaza and then I cold not stop watching. There is not much
I can say. The film is right there online and you can see it all for
Even if is all there to be seen, I tend to
geek out on this band and rave about them every once in a while. I rarely if
ever listen to hardcore anymore. It has very little to do with my life and
where I am at right now. Once in a blue moon a story will come up or I will
check out something online and get transported back to a time that seems like
many lifetimes ago. I am rarely impressed. But this particular band and this
show was at the peak of the hardcore scene and it never ceases to blow my mind.
Things changed pretty fast from this point. But this moment in time tells an
So there’s the way I knew most of the people
at the show that night, many by name, Polly, Jaenette, Claudette, Leon, Maria,
John W, Bubby, Poss, Dave Insurgent, Jimmy G, Russel, and many others just by face.
These kids were akin to kids I went to High school with. We passed each other
everyday in the hall, so to speak. We all knew one another, whether we were
friends or not. It is remarkable that such a radically brilliant act had such a
tight knit fan base of family basically. They were our band. Look at the way
people sing the lyrics. Look at the way HR hands over the mike and gives kids
space in Right Brigade. Look at the way he lets everyone be included but can
still command the space. I cannot think of any other band that was so plugged in
and generous. The deahead scene maybe (?) but they were so sprawling and this
is so intimate.
Then there is HR the man. Holy hell, Batman.
Where do I begin: that vocal thing he does where he screeches high and demonic
and then drops down into himself “how low”, (demonic), “can a punk get,”
(dropping iiiiiin); the way he dances, the headshake, the finger snaps, the hip
sways, the arm swing, you are killin’ me; the way he looks and smiles, his
face, his body, come on; the way he dresses, in a cotton button down and tube
socks and trousers and looks more bloody cool than anyone I can think of. Where
and how did all of this originate? Such intelligence, presence and style, in
another world he would be, should be, the godfather: Tastemaker, rock star;
inventor, pioneer, possessed soul giving it away for free. The whole band is
mind blowing and deserved as much credit, Dr Know, Darryl, Earl.What were they thinking, how did they
come to be? They are simply an anomaly.
I love watching this. I remember how hot is
was in our NYC December long underwear and over coats and hats. I loved that we
were called “girls and boys”. I love seeing the gang, all those familiar faces,
Polly and Jae and Claudette and watching Leon dance. Beautiful Leon, so true
and hip. I love that some people were in on it, people I know and can talk
about it with, people who knew about this and how stellar and shocking it was, it makes me
feel less alone in the world. That was a time, boy, that was a time.
I’ve said it before and I will say it again.
The first one through the wall gets bloodied, not always getting their due. It is sad but true. But
some of us know better. Thank you Bad Brains for everything.