Chances are, if you fancy yourself to be a hardcore buff, then the iconic Bad Brains show at the legendary punk venue CBGB’s is not news to you. It was here that the band established themselves as future legends of the genre and icons for a generation.
The performance, in fact, was so notorious that the band released a live album of the recording. Considering just how awful the quality of sound is on that record, and that they still put it out, it shows just how important all the blood, sweat and tears of a punk rock show really is. Below, you can watch the entire show and get lost in your own slice of Bad Brains history.
YouTube can be a cruel place at times. A place where right-wing nutjobs are allowed to espouse their heinous beliefs without reproach. A place where the most insane nonsense is shovelled into the algorithm abyss. That said, the streaming platform also holds some of the greatest live shows rock and roll have ever known. In particular, many lost moments from the punk-hardcore scene emanated out of America in the eighties.
None are more powerful than this iconic show from Bad Brains at the grimy and illustrious punk venue CBGB’s. Anyone with a modicum of punk knowledge will have heard of the venue and known what performing there did for a band. Either they flourished and enhanced their reputation on the biggest punk stages, or they fell flat on their faces. In 1982, Bad Brains were about to flourish.
Taking the stage, the quartet of vocalist H.R., guitarist Dr Know, bassist Darryl Aaron Jenifer, and drummer Earl Hudson combined to give perhaps one of the defining performances of the venue’s incomparable career. The Washington D.C. band had been knocking around the punk scene since 1977, but five years later and the group were a fully formed unit.
The group originally formed as a jazz fusion ensemble under the name Mind Power, but they soon developed a fast and intense punk rock style and changed their name to Bad Brains following the Ramones track ‘Bad Brain’. At this moment, it would seem, they had been bitten by the bug. The frenetic playing was only matched by the energy of their vibrating audiences, and the group were soon labelled as a hardcore alternative to punk.
Undoubtedly one of the pioneers of the scene, the band truly came to fruition when they took the stage in 1982. With a performance that shakes the very foundations of the club, they’re playing in, H.R. and Co. deliver a stupefyingly good set.
As mentioned, what the album and the footage below lacks in sonic quality it makes up for in passion and power. With a setlist packed with Bad Brains classics ‘Big Take Over’, ‘Attitude’, ‘I’ and ‘Pay To Cum’, it marks this performance out as one of their finest and it goes down as one of the most memorable of the city’s history.
Don’t take our word for it though, sit back and (try to) relax while watching Bad Brains show up to CBGB’s and tear it down, song by song, brick by brick.