Examining this troublesome issue highlights the real success of Live at the Palladium. Rather than creating a straightforward concert tape, the directors have blended the genre with the much more enjoyable band documentary style. Between every two or three tracks, the footage will change, and the audience will suddenly be in a small room hearing interviews with individual band members that have been perfectly edited together. Each section tackles a different issue or era of the band and we hear a variety of opinions and memories on everything from the choice of Bad Religion's infamous anti-cross logo, to the difficulties and tensions that arose with trying to juggle their music with the explosion of guitarist and songwriter Brett Gurewitz's punk label Epitaph. In this way, the viewer gets to slowly hear the entire story of the band's history and understand how they evolved into the influential political and artistic voice that they are today. And hey, for those who don't care and simply want to see some grade-A rockin' out, there's an option in the main menu to play only the concert footage, too.
Even for those who are still not convinced that this is enough to make it a worthwile purchase, any real fan will be pleased with the bounty of special features offered on the collection. Six of Bad Religion's stunning music videos are included in digital splendor, which are worth the price tag alone. Even more desirable is the inclusion of early footage of the teenage boys in full-on punk glory performing on the New Wave Theater TV show in 1980 and '82. If there was any doubt as to how far they've come, it will be assuaged by these clips; but they're enjoyable nonetheless, if even just for novelty's sake. For the hardcore fans needing more, there's also a gallery of new and old photos, and it's worth noting that this disc comes in some of the most gorgeous packaging that this reviewer has ever laid eyes on.
The original bands of the punk era have by and large long-since disbanded, and in the past few years they seem to be dying off at an alarming rate. The second wave groups of Bad Religion's generation also seem to be fading fast, but despite it all these cats still seem to survive and even grow as musicians. There's no doubt that a plethora of personal factors have played a role in this, but perhaps a larger explanation can be found in the unique role that they have played in rock and roll history. In a day when every punk act seems to become more and more watered down, Bad Religion has kept their youthful angst and continue to cry out against the values in American society that enraged them as youths. In a day when our nation's politics sink more and more into depths that have made us the politically backward nation of the modern world, their messages have become increasingly more relevant. They have stood out as not only the most intelligent band of the SoCal scene, but as perhaps the most well-spoken group of songwriters within their genre. Few hardcore rockers can make their fans want to go pick up a dictionary. There has to be something behind that.