Thursday, April 19, 2012

LIVE REVIEW - Bad Brains / GZA @ Music Hall of Williamsburg

An epic double bill of two legends in their own right - punk and hardcore pioneers, Bad Brains and Wu-Tang Clan member GZA together for one night in Brooklyn. While this was a small East Coast tour for Bad Brains, they have been bringing select guests and friends with them on various nights. The previous night in Manhattan saw H20 and Scream together for an epic night of hardcore, yet on Wednesday, Bad Brains mixed it up a bit having the GZA on the bill.

Bad Brains, who have shifted styles and sounds and credit for inspiring so many artists from Beastie Boys, Living Colour, Scream, Dave Grohl, Cerebral Ballzy and so many more. While Bad Brains sound has shifted from hardcore and punk to dub and reggae, they still mix it up for the audience coming to see them. Opening with a pounding set of their signature aggressive sound, the music of guitarist Dr. Know and bassist Darrel Jennifer along with drummer Earl Hudson was tight and very intact. Yet, one of the more interesting experience's to everyone was watching singer H.R., dressed in a velour jump suit with a dress shirt and tie underneath and knit hat, H.R., who has battled drug addiction and years of abuse to his body doing this profession simply looked burnt out. Slurring many of his words and mumbling in between songs, at points Jennifer would look at him and laugh, yet while his annunciation skills were not as top as the band's sound, it was still an overall experience watching him perform. Much like Brian Wilson to The Beach Boys, you go back and watch H.R. perform with Bad Brains out of respect and nostalgia for what that band has done for music and what they continue to do. In a set that saw them switch on and off like a light bulb between sound and styles, the crowd loved every second of it. With some off-the-wall stage diving from the audience and a massive pit for the vibrant hardcore classics like "Pay to Cum," "Banned in D.C.," and "I Against I," there were moments that no one on that stage showed their age, yet when the dub and reggae numbers would arrive, the heart rate of the crowd would mellow, but fire up as soon as the tempo picked up.

Opening, but in may ways could have been co-headling was Wu-Tang member GZA. GZA who is prepping a new album and a series of shows with a Latin band to celebrate the 10th anniversary of his cutting edge and celebrated solo album, Liquid Swords brought out all the hits in a greatest hits set filled with classics of his work in Wu-Tang, on his own and from his friends. With special appearances by Masta Killa and Papa Wu, GZA had a full locker full of forceful songs to deliver. Spitting each lyric in his signature staccato style, GZA showed what he was made of on his own. "I really love this place. I have never played here before, the sound is off-the-hook," GZA said speaking about Music Hall's impressive sound system before freestyling in a touching tribute to his fallen Wu-Tang brother and friend, Ol' Dirty Bastard then covering "Shimmy, Shimmy Ya." In the 45-minutes GZA was on stage, he could have come back for an encore and done more, yet with the taste of what he showed off, was enough considering who was following him on stage.

Dr. Know

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