BAD BRAINS at THE METROPOLIS SEATTLE 1983/4
To say I was excited to see Bad Brains live for the first time would be like saying…well I don’t have a clever metaphor on deck to express how excited I was so let’s just say I was VERY excited. Bad Brains and Black Flag were my two favorite bands at this time, in fact they are still two of my faves to this day.
I got to the show early, maybe with my brother Gavin (?), and when I saw the BB’s setting up it was almost surreal. Keep in mind this was pre-Grunge Seattle, a time when Starbucks was a coffee shop at the Pike Street Market, and Bill Gates was upper middle class. Very few hardcore bands bothered coming to our corner of the country aside from L.A. bands and ones from Vancouver B.C. like D.O.A. and The Subhumans. The East Coast and Midwestern bands that I loved were only known to me through 7”eps that I’d mailorder from labels like Dischord and Touch and Go and through black and white photocopied zines that arrived in the mailbox from punk rock pen pals. So a chance to see the best East Coast band of all had me really wound up for weeks with anticipation.
When Bad Brains took the stage and played a reggae song I was cool with it. I actually liked their reggae tunes and I was happy to hear it. When the second song was also a reggae number I was thinking that maybe the set would start off reggae then lead into their mind-blowing, prophetic sounding, swingy, technically jaw-dropping hardcore stuff. Then came the third reggae tune, and the fourth, then the fifth…until the whole crowd of punks was getting restless, bummed and pissed. I just got worried and almost sick to my stomach. Then H.R. said something sh—ty to the crowd and the band launched into their classic song “Destroy Babylon” in all its brilliance and fury! It was 1.5 minutes of cathartic exuberance. I was going to hear the songs I loved so much played by the masters at the height of their powers!
Then…reggae song number 6, 7, 8…show over. Sigh,sigh…whimper, whimper.
Before leaving I told Earl Hudson that I liked the show. I lied to Earl Hudson.
It wouldn’t be until a year or so later after moving to So. Cal. that I’d get to see Bad Brains in their full power. I wasn’t disappointed again. They were as great a live band as I’ve ever seen.