Sailin' On

Bad Brains on a boat—as absurd as it sounds, but thankfully much better, too

We had to create our own visual spectacle. Brains frontman H.R., magnetic and polarizing, has ditched his sharpened shriek of old, and more remarkably hardly moves onstage at all anymore, standing stock-still in pitch-black shades, a beatific smile on his face, stoned into stoicism. He scatted in almost Cosby-esque fashion through "Sailin' On," and offered up genuinely loopy Hey Kids! stage banter: "Isn't this fun? Aren't we having a good time?" It's much harder than it looks to pull off the deadpan eye-of-the-storm persona—you can quite easily look bored and/or disdainful—but H.R. is such an unnerving, bewildering presence you're happy to let it slide.

Dr. Know, rockin' The Temptress
photo: John E. Coli Nikolai
Dr. Know, rockin' The Temptress

After all, you're trying to avoid getting accidentally punched in the face. Catharsis rarely feels so joyous and orderly. As The Temptress docked, the band served up a "Pay to Cum" encore that triggered one more round of apeshit, thrilling a mob of outstanding character and worth, who'd hesitated to pay but now were glad we came.

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