Most weekend nights, it's the upstart hard-core bands who dominate the stage at the Country Club in Reseda. But tonight, hard-core's second generation can kick back and watch one of the creating forces of the sound they love to slam and thrash and stage-dive to.
The Bad Brains, like the Rolling Stones and the Who, are on a reunion tour of sorts. Founded in Washington in 1977, the group began as a jazz-influenced rock band. But when, as guitarist Dr. Know said in one interview, "all the jazz musicians we liked went pffft ," they looked elsewhere for inspiration and found the Sex Pistols.
Reggae also figures in the Bad Brains' mix. As HR, the group's singer and principal songwriter once said, "Reggae music is a very revolutionary sound, and punk rock, that's very revolutionary. They blend because the energy is the same."
Their energy, however, was too much for the powers-that-be in Washington to handle. A riot broke out at a now-infamous outdoor concert at Lincoln Park in 1979, and the group was banned from every major venue in the city.
But they were welcomed in New York. They arrived just in time to get in on the hard-core scene. One critic wrote that the Bad Brains make Motorhead sound like it's standing still; another said their music is like a whirlpool bath in a cement mixer. (Those are compliments, by the way.)
Now, more than 10 years and several breakups later, all four original members are back together and are about to release an album called "Quickness."
"HR saw some contradictions in the hard-core scene," said Anthony Countey, Bad Brains' manager. "He liked the kids and he liked the music, but he's not into mean wildness, and he's not into death. He's into life and has very pure, strong, spiritual intents. But then he realized that Bad Brains gives him a chance to preach to the unconverted."
Not that the Bad Brains have suddenly changed their attitude; they've always been spiritually and politically aware. P.M.A., or Positive Mental Attitude, is one of their driving credos.
For the band's philosophy, check out the title cut of its new album: "We don't check for politics," they sing. "We check for the heart of the man."
Bad Brains plays tonight at the Country Club, 18415 Sherman Way, Reseda. Doors open at 8 p.m. Opening band is Leeway. Bad Brains should take the stage about 10:30 p.m. Tickets are $17.50. Call (818) 881-5601 for information.