Bad Religion/Tartar Control - Live In West Hollywood (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

Bad Religion / Tartar Control

Live In West Hollywood (2018)

Live Show

I have seen Bad Religion live quite a bit over the years, most of the time at large theaters or headlining major festivals. But when I heard that the band would be playing a small(-ish) club like The Troubadour on May 2, 2018, with punk’s favorite Mormons, Tartar Control no less, I knew I had to be there. The show unsurprisingly sold out pretty much immediately. Obviously, it's pretty rare that a punk band of Bad Religion’s stature would play a venue that has a capacity of only 400 people. The other reason may not be as obvious if you hadn’t been following this show in particular. The rumor was that they would be playing all of their 1988 album Suffer in its entirety to celebrate its thirtieth anniversary. So this show had the potential to be quite different to say the least.

The irony was not lost that a “devout” Mormon band like Tartar Control (or “Good Religion” as they jokingly called themselves) would be opening for Bad Religion. That in itself made the show quite special. That, and the fact that both bands are from Los Angeles. And while Bad Religion’s material and live shows are both typically pretty serious, Tartar Control’s music and live show are both are outrageously funny. Sean, Robert and Robot took the stage and introduced themselves — very politely I might add. The hardcore trio started off with their anthem “Jesus Is Love.” This got Robert running around the stage and screaming into his wireless mic and then doing the same in the middle of audience. During the performance of other songs like “My God’s Cock” (which included a wicked guitar solo from Sean), “Smoking Crack” and “Step Daddy” other types of shenanigans took place as well. Robert slowly fell onto and held onto on of the bigger audience members while singing into his mic and at one point he stole someones thick-rimmed glasses and wore them for an entire song. He gave them back and proceeded to say something to the effect of, “He’s not a hipster. That’s a very strong prescription you have, sir!” Their between-song banter always has me bending over from belly laughs. At one point Robert was trying get this audience member’s attention as they were, what I assume, was texting away, not paying attention. After several loud and hoarse shouts of “HEY!”, the audience member finally realized who Robert was talking to while the rest of the crowd was laughing away. Even Robot threw a few zingers Sean and Robert’s way, too. Tartar Control also played their newer, signature and oral hygiene-positive tune “Brush Your Teeth” where I got to briefly help with the chant in the middle that goes, “Oral-B! Colgate! Aquafresh! CREST!” over and over again. Tartar Control later performed the song “Sodomy Basket,” a crowd favorite and a tune about giving, believe it or not. And then they finished it all up with the sing-along “Peach Cobbler Party.” Overall, Tartar Control’s performance was excellent musically and comedically. It’s much funnier than anything you’ll watch on TV or Netflix.

Bad Religion took the stage while an 8-bit version of “My Sharona” played over the sound system. The band spared no time and started their set with “Generator,” completely debunking the rumor that they would be playing all of Suffer. Still, to see Bad Religion in such a small venue playing a lot of their hits and some of the deep cuts was pretty remarkable. As you can see at the set list below, they played a pretty wide ranging set list, especially for a band that has such a big discography. Plus, seeing Dr. Graffin, Jay Bentley, Brian Baker (who totally shredded on guitar through out the whole show) and the rest of the band up close and without a barricade in front of you is pretty rare. It’s always a pleasure to hear their classics like “Los Angeles Is Burning,” “You,” “American Jesus” and “Sorrow,” but it was the other songs like “The Streets Of America,” “Wrong Way Kids,” “Against The Grain” and “Recipe For Hate” that were really great to hear because I don’t recall ever seeing them play those tracks live. The band’s set was pretty to-the-point otherwise. There wasn’t a whole lot of talking in between songs. However, Greg Graffin did address the elephant in the room — why wasn’t Mr. Brett there for this special show (or what Greg Graffin called, “the practice show” before touring season begins). It turned out the Brett Gurewitz was on a family vacation. Bad Religion finished up their set with other classics of theirs like “American Jesus” and “Infected.” It was a fantastic performance and one of the most intense shows that I have been to. Seeing a force like Bad Religion barely being contained in such an intimate venue was quite the experience. After they ended the night with “Fuck Armageddon… This Is Hell” the lights turned off. Then the band members thanked everyone and left the stage.

Bad Religion’s Set List:



Los Angeles Is Burning

I Want To Conquer The World

21st Century Digital Boy


Fuck You

The Streets Of America



No Control

Modern Man

Wrong Way Kids


Against The Grain

Recipe For Hate

Dearly Beloved


American Jesus



Fuck Armageddon… This Is Hell


That set seemed a little on the shorter side, didn’t it?

The audience was not going anywhere though. Everyone wanted an encore. Scattered cheering could be heard through out the venue.

What’s this? Why are the roadies taking down the band’s banner?

Will there even be an encore?

Oh, wait! They’re not just taking down the banner. They’re taking down the banner, so the new banner behind the first one can be seen.

The new banner is a massive version of the Suffer album cover.

The rumor was true!

And this is why this was a such a legendary show. Bad Religion did indeed play all of their 1988 album Suffer in its entirety for the encore, in their home town of Los Angeles, in a small venue, at a sold out show. This is truly where the audience went wild. The Troubadour has strict “no stage diving” policy and several times it was completely ignored. The circle and mosh pits grew in intensity and just about everyone was singing along. The entire room was hit with the notion that they were witnessing something very special. They performed the entire album from beginning to end. I never thought that I’d get to see them play even deeper cuts like “How Much Is Enough?,” “Give You Nothing,” “Delirium of Disorder,” “Part II (The Numbers Game)” and “Do What You Want.” And aside from one false start, Bad Religion completely nailed the entire album, while simultaneously blowing the minds of every person in the venue.

This was truly an incredible show with a wonderfully weird line up. Between the hilarity that ensued during Tartar Control’s set and insane intensity of both of Bad Religion’s sets, this is a show that I will never forget.

You can see pictures of the show on the Punknews Instagram.