Bad Religion + Social Distortion + Anty! @The Riverstage Brisbane 17.02.23

Review and Pictures : JD Garrahy

Plaid pants, black band shirts and mohawks as far as they eye can see. This can only mean one thing, Bad Religion and Social Distortion have summoned their loyal fanbase to Brisbane’s Riverstage for a Friday night gig of massive proportions.

As the sun sets over the River City, local support Anty! takes the stage and brings a chilled vibe to the crowd. The Bennies frontman bounces all over the stage with a brilliant mix of reggae and cruisy punk. With only a rhythm section, they still provide an amazing sound and Anty really knows how to get the crowd prepared for the upcoming punk lords. Even throwing in a Madness cover for good measure, the crowd of seasoned punks grooves along to the beat.

Bad Religion and Social Distortion have been sharing headlining duties on this tour and tonight, the godfathers of modern punk are taking the opening slot. Thunderous cheering and applause welcome them on stage as they launch full tilt into ‘Too Much To Ask’ and immediately follow it up with a double hit of ‘American Jesus’ and ‘Los Angeles Is Burning’. This is already proving to be a massive setlist just by the first 3 songs.

How you cram such a huge back catalog into a one hour slot can’t be an easy feat, but the LA originals manage to do this without letting one single fan down. From ‘Epiphany’ to ‘Flat Earth Society’, through to ‘Skyscraper’ and ‘Suffer’, there is no stone left unturned. As that definitive riff of ‘Fuck You’ rings across the Riverstage grounds, the fans go absolutely wild and frontman Greg Graffin could easily just let the crowd take over singing duties for the song.

The end of their set reads like a ‘Bad Religion’s Greatest Hits‘, as they tear through ‘I Want To Conquer The World’, ’21st Century (Digital Boy)’, ‘Sorrow’ and ‘You’. Die hard fans are more than satisfied with a closer of ‘Fuck Armageddon…This Is Hell’. Their epic performance will be remembered fondly for the rest of our days and we all can’t wait until they come back Down Under. Sooner, rather than later thanks boys!

Social Distortion are a force to be reckoned with. As they hit the stage, they crack straight into ‘So Far Away’, much to the crowd’s delight. Following on from here, the setlist just goes from strength to strength. Absolutely blasting our eardrums with a combo of ‘I Wasn’t Born To Follow’ and ‘Mommy’s Little Monster’, it’s clear that the Californian’s came to show the Aussie population how punk rock should be performed.

Cover songs are always a fun time in the realms of punk and when Chris Isaak’s ‘Wicked Game’ is the pick, it really doesn’t get any better. Mike Ness delivers some of the greatest vocals in modern punk and couples it all with some amazing guitar skills. Playing it up to the crowd, he really knows how to give the fans what they want. ‘1945’ blasts across the speakers and is followed up with ‘Tonight’ and ‘Ball and Chain’, for all of us here tonight, we won’t soon forget this show.

The rest of the setlist is a tribute to this band’s staying power and why, after 40+ years, they still draw the biggest of crowds. ‘Born To Kill’ and ‘Story of My Life’ forces everyone in the pit to dig deep and find that little remaining ball of energy stored deep within to thrash about with as much ferocity as possible. Closing out the set with a blistering cover of Merle Kilgore classic ‘Ring of Fire’, this has been nothing short of a flawless performance. Hopefully they can get back out here again in the future to gift us another night of brilliance.

With adrenaline coursing through our bodies and enough of everyone else’s sweat permanently stuck in our nostrils, this has been monumental to say the least. Bad Religion and Social Distortion, you made this old punk fanatic and quite a few others, VERY happy.