Flashback: Bad Religion Frontman Greg Graffin Plays 3 Shows at Rockwood Music Hall

Greg Graffin is most recognized as the lead vocalist and songwriter for the punk rock band Bad Religion, which he co founded in 1979. Graffin has also earned a PhD from Cornell and teaches natural science courses at UCLA.  He has written several books on the topics of evolution and religion.  In 2017, he released his third solo album, Millport

In support of the album he played 3 sold out shows at Rockwood Music Hall in the Lower East Side of Manhattan on February 27th, 28th and March 1st in 2017. The album was released on March 10th of the same year.

Ken Rockwood opened the venue in 2005.  It is a very small and intimate venue that has 3 stages, a bar and a record label of the same name.  Usually Graffin plays on bigger stages with his main band Bad Religion, so to see him perform these new songs up close and personal was a real treat for me.  I have been a huge fan for over 20 years.  

The small stage was packed with instruments you would not see at a BR show such as a banjo, fiddle and a madalin. The band featured Guitarist Tommy Andrews, Drummer Jamie Miller and David Bragger who played multiple instruments.  

The first song they performed was “Backroads of my Mind” which happened to be one of the first singles off the album.  After the song, Greg noted that these were the first shows he has ever played guitar in front of a group of people while standing up.  You can tell he wasn’t lying because he was using an actual shoelace as a guitar strap which was somehow perfect for matching the Country Rock/Folk genre. 

The band then went into several more songs off the album including “Too Many Virtues”, “Time of Need” and the electric guitar driver “Lincoln’s Funeral Train”.  One of the highlights of the night was the harmony filled Bluegrass track “Echo on the Hill”.  The song was a great showcase of the band’s skills, particularly Bragger’s mandolin playing. 

Before the last song, Greg Graffin jokes “for everyone who waited all night for a Bad Religion song” as they went into an rearranged version of “Sorrow” from BR’s 2002 Process of Belief album.  The new version sounded awesome in the tiny room as the whole crowd sang along. It was really a great moment for any Bad Religion fan.  It was a perfect night and the audience really felt connected with the band.  I enjoyed it so much that I went back the following night which was just as amazing.  After the shows Greg even stuck around to take pictures and sign autographs for the fans.  It was a truly magnificent experience.

bad religiongreg graffinrockwood music hall