LOOK: Bad Brains, Man Made, Birdhand at State Theatre 09.20.11
Bad Brains is living history – what they did in the eighties is the common ancestor for what you know as hardcore and, even, what many would identify as “good” music. The initial self-titled album and Rock for Light proved what the underground could and would evolve into: music as weapon and message. It isn’t a sound meant for stadiums and fields – State Theatre is almost the perfect place to be crushed by stage divers and yawping drunks as the introductory chords of “Pay to Cum” erase all reason on the pit floor. While the Saint Petersburg-local Man Made bludgeoned the audience with sludge riffs, dual drumming, and Theremin play, I overheard someone near the back saying, of elusive and eccentric Bad Brains frontman, H.R.: “He’s lost his mind.”
H.R. was once the spastic madcap that favored onstage back flips and full body twitching to the shrieks of “Attitude” instead of the suave moves of his then-contemporaries, but now he is one to prefer strangely lime-green tracksuits and post-song bowing to the audience – what we have now is a different man and a different band; bassist Darryl Jenifer has noted this maturity in recent years. The audience at State was more alive and prone to going airborne than the fifty-five year old H.R. could hope to be at this point – but with a new album scheduled for later this year and a permanent place of influence in music and the youth that exalts it, whatever has been lost was reinvigorated by what they’ve formed and found.