This show was the most hyped-up in the NY scene for as long as I can recall. I mean, Bad Brains at Irving Plaza, with an all-original line-up. The Bad Brains have changed their name for financial reasons, but other than that nothing has changed. The screen went down in the front of the stage and you could just feel the anticipation in the air. Everyone who was anyone in the NYHC scene was there and the place was sold out.  H. R. hit the stage and the place went crazy: people screaming, Rastafarians yelling stuff in Jamaican accents and all.  H.R. was in Rasta get-up (dress) and he was super-cracked out (literally). He was just staring at the ceiling and smiling, then looking at me and the other photographers in the front of the stage and smiling.  Then the rest of the band came out, H.R. stood up, asked how everyone was, went raging into “Attitude” and the place went berserk. Everyone was dancing and jumping on people; I even saw Jimmy Gestapo get pulled down from the bouncers and Ratbones was killing people as well. Everyone had a smile on their face, despite H.R. being cracked out and not going crazy. In fact, during the first three songs he hardly moved. But most didn’t care because they were playing all the classics: “Attitude”, “Sail on”, “Right Brigade”, “Pay to Cum”,  “At the Movies”. They played a 19-song set ending with “I Against I.” At one point, H.R. pulled out a Bible and asked people if they knew what it was. The show was classic and although H.R. was not going off like he used to (doing backflips) and you weren’t sure that if he might pull out a M-60 machine gun and “Destroy Irving Plaza.” (No one can forget when he split open the head of a skinhead in Lawrence, Kansas with the mic stand, or the time he  attacked manager Anthony Countey and sent him to the emergency room) It was still the Bad Brains. Many were mad they didn’t play “Supertouch” or “Banned in D.C.”, and yet others were just disgusted that he wasn’t the amazing frontman they were used to 11 years ago. Many of those same people said he just totally lost it. I say “screw you” to them. H.R. has been doing this since 1978, and yeah, he may have been all cracked out, but even so, his voice is still unmatchable.  So what if he doesn’t go as crazy as he used to. It’s 1999, not 1982. He’s H.R. of the Bad Brains. He can do whatever he wants.


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