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Polar Bear Club drummer gets a chance to play with his favorite band: Bad Religion

Syracuse drummer Steve Port still remembers his first concert. It was 1996 and he was just a kid. His dad took him to the Lost Horizon to see Los Angeles punk rockers Bad Religion. Since that night, he says, Bad Religion has been his favorite band.

On Wednesday, Port got an opportunity he longed dreamed of growing up: A chance to play drums with his longtime idols.

The 2001 Manlius Pebble Hill graduate plays with a hardcore group called Polar Bear Club, who began touring as the opener for Bad Religion on Mar. 9. Wednesday morning, Bad Religion drummer Brooks Wackerman had to leave the tour after receiving news his mother passed away.

Needing an immediate solution to the vacancy in the lineup, the band turned to Port.

Bad Religion’s tour manager contacted Polar Bear Club to see if Port could fill in for a few songs Wednesday night in Houston while they searched for a more permanent drummer.

“They were going to do an acoustic set and see if I could play one or two to fill in,” Port said. “So I went to rehearse with them and I knew all their songs. They must have called off the search after that.”

The band did a full show with Port on drums and employed his talents again Thursday night in Dallas. As of this morning, he was on his way to Tampa for another gig.

“I was so nervous the first night,” Port said. “[Bad Religion guitarist] Brian Baker came up to me before the show and just said, ‘no pressure.’ But I’ve been listening to these songs and playing them since I was a teenager, so it’s like second nature.”

In addition to filling in for Wackerman, Port is still playing with his band, Polar Bear Club to open each show.

“I’ll play 45 minutes with Polar Bear Club, go backstage for 15, then I’m right back on for another hour and a half,” Post said. “I’m doing double duty.”

Including tonight’s show in Tampa, Bad Religion has 36 more shows scheduled in the U.S. on this tour. Port says he doesn’t know how long he’ll be filling in, but he’s glad to be able to help out one of his favorite bands.

“As awesome as it is to play with these guys, the circumstances are terrible,” Port said. “I don’t have the feeling like this is the coolest thing ever. I’m more glad that I could help these guys out in a tough time.”