Bad Religion is one of the most influential and successful punk bands to come out of California. It also spawned Epitaph, a label both loved and hated by punks, and created a musical legacy that has had far fewer missteps than your average band. This DVD features live footage of the band shot over two nights at the Palladium (and for the record, the sound and concert footage are excellent) and interviews with its members and fans. There’s also plenty of extras, but the meat of the DVD is found in the performances and the band members’ own comments on how the band formed, the story with the controversial move to Atlantic Records, and co-founder/guitarist Brett Gurewitz’s exit from the band (a move that stunned every Bad Religion fan).
Watching this, one can’t help but contrast it with the documentary “Metallica: Some Kind of Monster.” Metallica was also a band that built itself from the ground up, but success and egos grew at the same rate and turned the band into a joke. That documentary showed how flawed the band was, and how it is now nothing more than a a business. “Bad Religion Live at the Palladium,” on the other hand, shows a band that has no egos. These guys are all friends, and they consider themselves lucky to be in a situation where they can do what they love. In fact, at least one of them still considers Bad Religion to be a hobby and not a job. (Another welcome contrast to Metallica.)
Why this film hasn’t received widespread release on the big screen is a mystery. Bad Religion is not some obscure band known only by a handful of musical elite. It is a band that actually attracts listeners from all spectrums, as the songs touch on some universal subjects (though they are a bit more intellectual than your run of the mill radio slop). Sure it’s a concert film, and those don’t do real well at the box office, but it’s also a fascinating look at a band positively affected by time and success … not jaded by it.