Bad Religion Goes All In With The Age of Unreason

Bad Religion recently released a new album Age of Unreason, which is great news indeed, but it got better when I saw the tour schedule. Bad Religion was coming to Raleigh, North Carolina. I literally yelled out loud!

Anyone who is a fan of Bad Religion has been weathering the drought of new songs for a bit now, seeing as it has been six years since Bad Religion’s 2013 album, True North. I count myself among the crowd that had been thirsting for sure.

Photo by Chip Williams TW3 Photography

As always with any band that one loves, there is always the fear that the next album may disappoint. Bad Religion has been doing this for music thing for a while and they’ve never disappointed me, so my fear was minimal.

When I heard Age of Unreason, all fear was gone. Like so many of their other albums, I played this one on repeat over and over with no fatigue. Personally, there are only a couple of bands that can do that for me, and I liked the new album. No big surprise.

Photo by Chip Williams TW3 Photography

I had bigger questions bubbling in my mind at this point. How would the old school punk fans (people the same age as the band itself or slightly younger, fans that have been around a long time), the pop punk fans that found the band in the middle of their career and the new school punk fans (whatever that even means) react.

Photo by Chip Williams TW3 Photography

We’re talking about trying to be relevant to a pretty wide range of generations after all. Could a band really keep making interesting, relevant music for nearly 40 years? When I saw the tour schedule, I saw that I would have my chance to see first hand how those questions would be answered.

Photo by Chip Williams TW3 Photography

Raleigh, NC was right there in the middle of that schedule. The guys were gonna be coming right through the neighborhood so to speak. A neighborhood that is home to three major universities, a strong skate scene, an area that has a pretty good history of loving and supporting punk rock and even a good share of us old school punk fans still hanging around.

I believed this stop would be a good place to observe how the band has held up with original fans, and fans that discovered the band mid-journey and to see whether they could continue to gather new fans. I was almost as intrigued to see the crowd as I was to see a legendary band.

Photo by Chip Williams TW3 Photography

What I saw that night was exactly what I was hoping and expecting to see. The band had drawn a crowd that was a reflection of their music catalog over the years. Gray-haired, fading tattoo guys all the way to 14 year old’s saying fuck off and hitting a school night concert…and all sorts of people in between. Greg and the guys could still bring the crowd, but could they still crush the music like always?

Photo by Chip Williams TW3 Photography

Well, the second they hit the stage, they easily answered that question too. The band never stopped bringing energy, and Greg’s signature thought provoking lyrics, and Bad Religion’s raw and loud true punk noise entertained all who were there. It didn’t matter what first made you a fan of Bad Religion. Whatever your reason for being a fan, the band hit it all.

Photo by Chip Williams TW3 Photography

It’s no secret that in the past one of the critiques of the band is that they release albums that always sound the same. I never subscribed to that personally. For me, as long as I took the time to look for and listen to the subtle differences, there was always something new to be discovered. 

Photo by Chip Williams TW3 Photography

This new album could easily have become a one-dimensional political rant and the whole tour a support vehicle for that, but it didn’t. Mr. “you know who” is never mentioned by name even though some of the by-products of these times certainly are addressed. Phrases being dropped into the lyrics like “alternative facts,” “kids in cages,” and “the art of the deal.” are not subtle in telling the story of today’s world.

When the show cranked up, the band scattered several songs from the new album throughout, with a good mix of older songs. All were received quite well and were appreciated by the large and diverse crowd. Musically, it was good mix of current political commentary, old school social consciousness and familiar anti-religious dogma themes on display to excite fans across the spectrum.

Photo by Chip Williams TW3 Photography

However, just in case you wanted to simply get lost in loud, furious punk rock music, they brought all those themes riding in on the tsunami of the music itself, with a hardcore energy that could stand alone if needed. Fortunately, we didn’t have to choose, Bad Religion had once again blended their intelligent message along with killer hardcore music.

As the song goes, “You can get cerebral if you want to….”
BUT sometimes “…the easiest thing to do, is say fuck you”. Something for everybody.

Words and photos by Chip Williams TW3 Photography

Photo by Chip Williams TW3 Photography

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