I got to the Ventura Theatre at about 4pm on a rather breezy afternoon at the beach. This being my third time seeing Bad Religion, I knew what to expect, and knew it would rock. After a long and chilly wait out in front, which consisted of chatting with Jay and Hetson for a bit, the doors were opened at 7pm. I got in and after an hour long wait, The Missing 23rd came on at 8pm.
I wasn't sure who they were as they had just been added to the show the day before and I was hoping for the best. They took the stage like a hurricane, the first beat and their singer jumped right into the crowd singing. Whoa. I could tell this was gonna be a great live show, the band reminded me of a Minor Threat as far as their live show. It was intense as hell and their singer is almost as physical as, say, H.R. of the Bad Brains or Henry Rollins during his Flag days. They played "Hate", "Know Justice", "On Your Knees", and a few others. I decided I'd pick up their CD at their merch counter and on album they sound a lot like raw, aggressive Good Riddance.....which is a good thing! Well, anyway, after starting the night off with a blast the Missing 23rd left the stage to a pleasantly surprised audience.
Next came Sparta, and I knew something was weird about this match up from the start. Sparta being an "emosih" band from Texas I had a feeling from the start that the audience wasn't gonna dig it, and neither would I. They took the stage and immediately were hit with insults from the crowd. A guy with a mohawk behind me was flipping them off and another person threw some shit at them. The guitarist was getting all bitter and was yelling back at the guys. It was funny, but the band brought it upon themselves. I mean, the singer kept yelling "I'm from Texas" and kept making heart hand motions. Overall I didn't enjoy their set and the only applause heard when they left was in rejoice for their set ending.
Finally, at about 10pm, Bad Religion took the stage and I thought I was gonna get smashed into the barrier. There must have been 600 people trying to reach the front and I was getting the brunt of all of it. But that didn't ditract from the show. They started the night off with "Kyoto Now". The band played alot of newer songs like "Supersonic", "Prove It", "Can't Stop It", "Epiphany", "The Defense", and "Sorrow" of course. They also played "The Grey Race", "Parallel", "Stranger Than Fiction", "Inner Logic", "Suffer", "Do What You Want", "The Handshake", "Struck A Nerve", "Fuck Armageddon..", "Recipe For Hate", "American Jesus", "Heaven Is Falling", "21st Century Digital Boy", "No Control", "I Want To Conquer The World", "Get Off", and, fittingly, "All Good Soldiers". So, as you can see Bad Religion knows how to put together one hell of a set.
Greg said some funny things during the performance about Michael Jackson and some talk about the war in Iraq before they played "Heaven Is Falling", which was written in contrast to the first gulf war. Brett did not attend the show, so Hetson had one whole side to himself. Jay is one hell of a character, he was smiling and yelling as much as possible.
Overall it was an awesome night, the surprising first band and the always amazing Bad Religion made the rather boring Sparta and long wait all worth it. If you haven't seen Bad Religion yet or have only seen them at the Warped Tour, then you need to see them at a club soon. And check out Missing 23rd if you dig Good Riddance style hardcore. Another funny fact, I have never seen so many hot girls at a real punk concert. It was kind of alienating since they all seemed to have guys with them. Oh well, once the music started I thought nothing of it.