Chances are if you fancy yourself to be a hardcore buff, then the iconic Bad Brains show at the legendary punk venue CBGB is not news to you. It was here that the band established themselves as bonafide legends.
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 shows just how important every other factor is, considering they still put it out. Below you can watch the entire show.
YouTube can be a cruel place at times. A place where right-wing nutjobs are allowed to espouse their heinous beliefs without reproach. But the streaming platform also hides some of the greatest live shows rock and roll have ever known. In particular, a lot of lost moments from the punk-hardcore scene that emanated out of America in the eighties.
None are more powerful though 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 of 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 they soon developed a fast and intense style of punk rock and changed their name to Bad Brains following the Ramones track ‘Bad Brain’. The frenetic playing was only matched by the energy of their audiences and they 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.
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.