Ok, I gotta take better notes and get these posts in more quickly. A Brooklyn dub band that was more dub-rock than dub-reggae opened. A powerful three-piece supplemented with computer generated sounds did a really good job keeping a dub rhythm going while rocking out and sometimes hitting some reggae chords. I believe they often played with the Bad Brains and they are worth seeing with them or on their own. Good fun.
Bad Brains began with a few of their shredding early burners and pretty much whipped the up-front crowd into a frenzy. The rest of us on the perimeter or in the rafters watched HR closely to see if we were going to get another stunning Bad Brains show (I've seen five including one on their first tour) or a train wreck. HR just isn't all mentally there in the Daniel Johnston/Roky Erickson manner. I think he's in a little better shape than them, but I wasn't so sure as he couldn't or wouldn't sing on most of the uber-fast songs in the set. He would intorduce the title of each song probably for his benefit as much as anyone's. Once he proceded to immediately sing the previous song (Sailing On).
However, the reggae and the medium paced numbers (like from I Against I) were very successful and HR's voice was decent. I would say he enjoyed those songs more, but he was smiling all the time in a way that my brother described best (from the New York show) as a cross between Mr. Rogers and Willie Wonka (Johnnie Depp variation).
The band still was supergreat and ripped all evening long. The sound was a little shiny wall-0f-sound as opposed to the individual attacking styles that they tightly put together in the early days.
So, what to make of this? I am glad I saw them one more time. I really enjoyed the songs and HR hung on well enough to allow me to focus on the music sometimes. But compared to those utterly brilliant shows in the past, this was a far cry. Worthwile, but it may be my last time to honor this brilliant band.