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Bad Brains played a secret set at Darryl Jenifer’s art show (pics, setlist)

Though Bad Brains members have done a handful of live events in recent years, and H.R. has played solo shows, it’s been a while since a proper Bad Brains set happened. They recently announced that they’d return to the stage at Chicago’s Riot Fest in September, but they made a semi-surprise return in NYC last night (6/8).

Last night was the opening of Bad Brains member Darryl Jenifer’s Mind Power art show at Okayplayer’s Okay Space in Williamsburg, and Darryl’s bandmates H.R., Dr. Know, and Earl Hudson joined him for a surprise Bad Brains set. With an expanded lineup featuring keyboardist Jamie Saft and guitarist Chogyi, the band played right on the floor with the people like in the early hardcore days. (Okay Space has no stage and the lighting was just the basic white lights in the gallery.)

The music started with Daryl, Jamie, Chogyi and drummer Benny who I believe called themselves The Pyramid. For the second song, the Bad Brains took over the stage and played the reggae song “Jah Love” followed by “Youth Are Getting Restless,” which got the crowd going. Things stepped up further when the played “Re-Ignition.” Then there were more surprises. Randy Blythe of Lamb of God took over on lead vocals and H.R. left the stage and didn’t return. Randy was set on taking the place by storm and flung his body and soul into ripping versions of “Big Take Over” and the incredible “Banned From D.C. ” A small but rowdy mosh pit broke out with Randy in the center of the chaos and by the time he left the stage, the monitors were toppled, drinks were spilled, chairs flew and everyone was ramped up. Then another surprise: Sid McCray, the original singer of Bad Brains, took the mic and delivered a low-key performance of “Regulator.” No one could follow Randy’s insanity and I wonder if H.R. will be able to deliver the goods as strong as Randy on the raging Bad Brains tracks when they play Riot Fest. This was a great but all too brief evening and one can only hope the Bad Brains will play a proper NYC show with a full set on a real stage. PMA indeed!

In addition to original works on canvas by Darryl Jenifer, the art show features works by acclaimed street artist and OBEY Clothing founder Shepard Fairey; Bad Brains photography by Lucian Perkins, John Moushegian, and Craig Wetherby; and vintage Bad Brains flyers. The Mind Power show also had the Darryl-named Mind Power beer (by Lost Coast Brewing) specifically for the event. It runs through August 1.

Pictures of opening night — including one of the setlist — are in the gallery above.

photos by Greg Cristman

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