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Live at SXSW: Bad Brains Bring Their Own Ganja to Austin

Who: Bad Brains

When: Thursday, 3/17/2011

Where: Emo's, Austin TX (SXSW)

Ducked underneath kamikaze bodies with your chest firmly pressed against the stage is the only way to truly experience a punk gig. Bad Brains' BYOG (Bring Your Own Ganja) show at Emo's had club security darting back and forth across the stage, reprimanding any unruly audience members. ("Get the fuck out of here! Right Now!"). Typical of the hardcore band, who, surprisingly, were making their first ever SXSW appearance:

Thankfully, singer H.R. and company were light on the reggae snooze -- no disrespect to Jah -- and heavy on the fast-and-furious, two-minute hits, from the oft-covered "Sailin' On" to the stomping "Right Brigade" to the recent "Universal Peace" off 2007's excellent Adam Yauch-produced Build a Nation. The anti-authority "Regulator" seemed particularly fitting given the no stage-diving rule.

Dr. Know did his dirty work on his trademark Ethiopian flag-colored ax, while bassist Darryl Jenifer teased the crowd with his own nimble finger work and drummer Earl Hudson sat comfortably behind the skins, biting on a toothpick. Though he didn't address us as Selassie's children this time, watching H.R. is always a trip, whether he's standing off to the side and nodding approvingly, waiving his hands to the music as if conducting his own orchestra or bowing after every song, praying hands and all.