… long hair and sweaty bodies: Them Clowns from down under in a sauna session!

With more than a week rest another sweaty show down at the Hafenklang. Hamburg is still suffering from 30something degrees of heat, for those visitors from down under it must feel like home. For most of us north Europeans it is just painful and our clubs are not made for it. But that did not fend of people, the Hafenklang was well packed (though not sold out).

First on Bench Press, also from Melbourne, with a slightly different twang than the headliner. They are rated top talent down under and they are what some people dub as „critically acclaimed“ despite being together only since March 2016.

Bench Press (Hafenklang, Hamburg, 01.08.2018 (c) gehkacken.de)

I guess they are on the happy side of Indie and Post-Punk, not so much as in happy mu-sick but as in to the more enjoyable side of that label. A good rhythm section with a nice vibrant bass is topped with an excellent guitar: A scent of surf, some clean bright chords, a wee bit of power and distortion when needed and all performed very well – impressive axe work!

If you like your songs complex, back and forth play between the guitars and if you like your singer somewhere between caged animal, spoken words and sheer anger then they are for you to check out. If you are like me an dirty old and stubborn sod than you take positive note of them but you need to admit that it ain’t your thing for a full set/show. As much as i like the one or the other eg. Gang of Four song it is hard for me to listen to a full LP.

What they do, they do well – so give them a choice if you dare.

Next on the Clowns, around a bit longer (8 years by now if i get the math right) and with much longer hair. And hair metal it was through out the set, sweaty long hair being thrown around on stage. Some like it, some not. I am slightly offended by that but if it is delivered unpretentious and as a matter of fact i can accept the challenge.

And this is how they kicked off:

Oh boy, that got everything in the mix – literally. And that is why i got a ticket for them in the first place: They throw hardcore, trash, metal, psychedelic guitars and some scent of pop into a happy sunny mix and push it down from the stage with relentless energy.

And they got some stage personas too: Commanding singer, smiling blond girl on bass providing backup vocal and two great guitars (that you hardly make out as hidden … under hair). And a sturdy drummer there in the back sporting a nice Wipers shirt.

Clowns (Hafenklang, Hamburg, 01.08.2018 (c) gehkacken.de)

When it come to fusion i would think they are the ultimate example. And they had one thing instantaneously: They got the damn audience flying around and moving like there ain’t no tomorrow (and there needs to be full workout at 45° heat). More than one male member of the audience did throw his wet shirt onto the stage and went on to bounce into other members of the audience shirtless (thank goodness these exhibits did not sport long wet hair or, worse, long wet chest hair).

Clowns (Hafenklang, Hamburg, 01.08.2018 (c) gehkacken.de)

I thoroughly enjoyed them, others in the audience enjoyed them even more up to and including some being able to literally sing every fucking song. Fans i’d say. Some actually sounded Australian, i guess the local expat community was around to support a band from home. A band they could have seen in their backyard back home, as the singer duly noted.

Here is everything together: An Aussie saying hello (and being thrown back into the pit) and a song with that special scent of psychedelic and pop as an undercurrent that makes them so … special? Unique? Nevermind – just great:

They played for an hour or so, came back for an encore and then had to head off towards Wacken: They are to play the Beer Garden Stage on 02.08. at 20:00. That’s hopefully mainlining and hopefully they get some of that beer to replenish the lost minerals and water on the damn hot stage of the Hafenklang. Go and see them, it is worthy! And for a start listen here:

Another sweaty night, another worthy cause. And with me a lot of sweaty and thirsty customers enjoyed the warm night before heading home with a big smile (and a wet shirt).

... a happy sweaty audience yearning for fresh air (outside the Hafenklang, 01.08.2018 (c) gehkacken.de)
… a happy sweaty audience yearning for fresh air (outside the Hafenklang, 01.08.2018 (c) gehkacken.de)



… San Vernando Valley 0, Long Beach 1: A sweaty Californian twin headlining!

Bang Bang Bang – Hamburg not only suffers from a heatwave of a tropical nature but also from show overkill. Following Battalion of Saints i did let go Ruiner (and more) on Monday only to return to a packed Hafenklang on Tuesday. I am not sure if it was The Dickies, i think it was the combination of T.S.O.L. and The Dickes that was to be a wide spread mu-sick-ally and thus lured a wide range of people.

A surprise support slot was handed to Scooter Kids Must Die, local heroes. A friend of mine had them down as worthy though their self set style as „punk doom hardcore punk thrash“ did not speak to me. Others had them down as „THE new hardcore punk hope of Hamburg“ and that at least had me check them out whilst i guess 150 people decided to enjoy beer outside the Hafenklang.

Scooter Kids Must Die (Hafenklang, Hamburg, 24.07.2018 (c) gehkacken.de)
Scooter Kids Must Die (Hafenklang, Hamburg, 24.07.2018 (c) gehkacken.de)

For me they sounded at times hectic, at times fast and to the point and all the time with a singer that roamed the dance floor and yelled, mumbled and screamed. And moshed it out, more or less alone, in the pit. Mhhhh, tough one for me – i stayed on but left prior to the final song – i was not (yet) convinced. And the pairing was way too off against what was to come (says the man who preaches contrast is good).

Next on T.S.O.L. and ever since Jack Grisham in 1999 took back ownership of the name from the hair metal faction that did run it following the infamous Sun Set Strip Riot in 1983 T.S.O.L. are not only back for good but also enlighten the audience with a wide variety of mu-sick-al styles. Here is how they kicked off:

Ok, Jack has some additional weight on him but he still has a voice and has a band that fits him. They took the stage and gave the as good as sold out Hafenklang  a wide run through what T.S.O.L. recorded over the years.

T.S.O.L. (Hafenklang, Hamburg, 24.07.2018 (c) gehkacken.de)

And the audience was more than receptive. Actually rather enthusiastic (though not as much as for The Adolescents a week earlier). Loads of nodding, lots of applause and some dancing.

Fun moment was at the end of every song: If the drummer gave a fraction of a second of pause then Jack eyed him angrily and yelled at him to speed up and storm into the next song: Obviously he had a game plan and did not care if his team died at 45° degrees heat on stage. A plan is a plan and a delivery to the audience is a delivery.

Double fun that Jack allowed himself to take a breath whilst Ron was singing a song that was just from another style…

Just perfect. And that is what i sometimes loved T.S.O.L. (and actually Joykiller too) and at times over all the years hated them for: Their spread of music is very wide and not that narrowed down as for other bands. And, on top, it is utmost fun when Jack starts talking between songs – he is a handsome entertainer!

Still they can trash out their old 1981 signature song „Abolish Government„:

For me they were just perfect. All i needed from a live show, although the sound was somehow not as perfect.

Next The Dickies, who seem to be on a two years rota: 2014 Hafenklang, 2016 Knust (a near perfect show with a „Hits only!“ set) and now back to the good old Hafenklang.

And surprisingly they took the stage with an old Beatles classic:

Unusual and it should continue in that vain – it was not to be a sing-a-long series of old hits, nope, it was Leonard playing some word tricks with hints towards the final album to come and new songs from that final final album where to be included in the set. And Leonard was not shy to announce that it would finally be end of … whatever.

The Dickies (Hafenklang, Hamburg, 24.07.2018 (c) gehkacken.de)

The sound was still not perfect and on the stage it also felt a wee bit not in sync. There where quite some looks coming from the bass player towards Leonard and Leonard himself a couple of times was unhappy with the poor roadie who had to hand him the gimmicks to accompany the songs.

For me and some others it was a less fine show of The Dickies, something was just not right. Was it the band, was it the rooster of songs or was it the heat? Not sure – at least there is an outlook for a new Dickies LP and some final vinyl to accompany the many vinyl my collection holds (against a total 10 Albums (half of them live albums) and 20 odd singles (many in variations)).

The only wish i have – continued – is that i want to see them play „See my way„. That stunning Blodwyn Pig cover i desperately want to see live. Please. Pretty please me!

Just after midnight the show ended and it was more chats and drinks. And it was me at fault: The gang was there and i was not dressed for the occasion. What gang you might wonder? That gang with the „Free Melania“ shirt from the Adolescents show it was. The other sported it proud, i just completely missed out. Hence i accept that i was the culprit that night. Accepted mates!

… what a surprise: Battalion of Saints blast the Hafenklang!

It ain’t a sprint, July in Hamburg this year is a marathon in damn heat. Next on where Battalion of Saints from sunny San Diego, a household name in the 80s, a lesser known name in the 90s (even whilst on Taang back then) and a lost name/cause after that (at least from our viewpoint across that mighty ocean). Many people in Hamburg decided to let go the option, i was curious to see what they are up to now. On purpose i did not check out obvious sources like YouTube, ahead of the show, as i wanted to make my (most likely final) choice based on stage performance.

First on in a rather empty Hafenklang were The Cryptics, from New Hampshire in the US of A. They had the pain of playing towards say 15 people facing the stage and i have to admit they did well. They stick a „Melodic Punk“ label onto themselves, i guess thats is something that works in the US of A but for me it ain’t working (and does not do them justice).

The Cryptics (Hafenklang, Hamburg, 22.07.2018 (c) gehkacken.de)

They had good moments when they where short and fast paced, they had almost good moments when they where fast but melodic. And they had lackluster moments for me when they were slow. Best was the bass, who kept a very groovy line throughout the songs. I think i will dig them out deeper, i already noted that the singer has some solo recordings up (on the internet, damn internet – never forgets) that at least got my ears.

But what started with them already was that itch that was to be carried forward to Battalion of Saints: In passing the singer noted that is was the first show with the guitar player and the 3rd with the bass. So effectively we saw a new band or, my wild guess, a band leader with a new assembly.

And that swiftly gets us to Battalion of Saints, who have George Anthony as the only remaining member of what was Battalion of Saints in their hey-days in the 80s. To be very frank my first shock was when i saw George, as he looked like a very wasted rock star. Very wasted. Very much too much weight on him. Then i noted that the singer of The Cryptics settled behind the drums. And my initial reaction was fear of seeing a joke. And little did i know!

To vocals and drums the setup added a fuzzed bass (with a very agile bass player) and a solid guitar (with someone who looked initially to be in the wrong band). And what they delivered was surprisingly tight, in sync and basically rock solid. And the more they played, the more they filled the Hafenklang (now still empty with say 45 good folks) with a unique wall of sound that had Georges unique vocal style has a high pitched instrument on top.

Battalion of Saints (Hafenklang, Hamburg, 22.07.2018 (c) gehkacken.de)

Most likely this ain’t the Battalion of Saints from eg. „2nd comming“ but it is a Battalion of Saints with a unique sound, delivered surprisingly consistent and well. I could make out some songs i remembered, i could make out the notorious „Ace of Spades“ cover in their unique style but to be frank i did not bother, as i got carried away by their sound.

And the end many of the people attending actually recognized the set as a good one and as someone put it in typical Hamburg style „…was für ein Brett!„. I have seen far worse incarnations of band names and i have listened to far worse performances over all the years. If you have a chance to see them in 2018 – go and check them out. If the figures on drums, bass and guitar change then fear the worst but at least expect a surprise.

I loved it but i can also understand why people did let go the opportunity: They most likely spared the 14€ for Dickies and TSOL on Tuesday.