… a smile, a warm laughter and heartbreaking songs: Thanks Descendents!

It has been 21 years. Twentyone fucking years. A painful long period without my loveliest band gracing home shores. Damn. Others where lucky and caught them abroad but i am a homie and specifically i’d love to see them at a place like the Markthalle.

It was a great show back then and all of Hamburg seemed to be eager to make it a great show again. And thus it was sold out in record time. When FLAG played the Knust two years ago we chatted with Mr. Egerton and he confirmed they were keen to get back to the Markthalle and sell it out – which indeed they did. He noted that for them it is a cozy club show they love compared to the bigger places they play in the US.

With two support bands it was an early start and Spider from Long Beach had the unfortunate task to play the rather empty hall.

Spider (Markthalle, Hamburg, 10.07.2018 (c) gehkacken.de)
Spider (Markthalle, Hamburg, 10.07.2018 (c) gehkacken.de)

They did not play long and they did not get a lot of applause. For me they were just not to the point – they had elements old LA punk, elements of H/C and then some more. But all crushed into a rather long song. I guess i would need to see them in a smaller setting to make an accurate judgement. I have gave them some of my time but then resorted back out for more chats with the endless number of mates around. Check them out for yerself over here.

Next on and competing with France vs. Belgium where A Wilhelm Scream and neither myself nor most of my friends where anywhere near being fond of them.

A Wilhelm Scream (Markthalle, Hamburg, 10.07.2018 (c) gehkacken,de)
A Wilhelm Scream (Markthalle, Hamburg, 10.07.2018 (c) gehkacken,de)

They had the space in front of the stage pretty full and they had a number of fans apparently. And they had a mu-sick-al style that i just do not like. Period. Form your own view but i will forever avoid these soundscapes.

Frank, if i’d have a say (and the money) i would have paired the Descendents with Daikaiju as the sole support band. They would have blasted the room to the max (and their speedy and heavy surf would have been a perfect match).

And once the support was done all of the 1000+ folks attending moved into the main hall, filling it up like it was filled up in the hey-days of Punk (79-83) in good old Hamburg. But before they took the stage they did have a date with my football team in the afternoon and joined the cast of US bands that do cross promotion with the FCSP. I am not necessarily a fan of it but hey – if the band wants it, why not.

Milo and Karl at Millerntor Stadium
Milo and Karl at Millerntor Stadium

The one thing though that i do accept is that is carries a cause and the cause is a shared good one. And the Descendents went quite some length with Who we are (and got some flak in the US of A for it) and they got a message across that also the FCSP and the majority of it’s fans dare to carry – loud and proud. The only item of concern is actually the lackluster artwork on the front, sorry that can’t be the work of Chris Shary (else i need to divorce with him!).

And then they took the stage and they took it with grace, a broad smile and pretty relaxed. And off then went into „Suburban Home“ and the Markthalle went apeshit. Lots of dancing, lots of fists and some singing. Yep, the Descendents. Yippie!

Descendents (Markthalle, Hamburg, 10.07.2018) (c) gehkacken.de)

And what did they do? By and large they played songs from all periods and records. They also played one song that i still believe is a hidden gem (and for me has an annotation to a long lost girl that did not turn out to be me love) – here is Clean Sheets (and listen up youth, keep yer sheets clean!):

What did strike me yet again was the broad smiles all four carried on stage with Bill up there behind his drums sporting the biggest one. They are up there, very self aware and self confident and they do know what it take to deliver some of that joy, love and energy back to an eager audience.

Another example is Good Good Things, a song that many passed by on „I don’t want to grow up“ and that i believe ranks in the top 10 of the perfect pop songs (next to stuff like Sunstroke from Guns’n’Wankers). And yet again it carries a message for the youth:

So come on down and walk with me, and tell me I'm your man
Let's see if I can get it right with you this time around
I'm not afraid of losing you my little girl
But do you still believe in me like I believe

I taped this song for me love ages ago with a singular intent (and me love later said YES, lucky me). Here it is youth:

Fun fact: At 00:55 on the lower right corner you can see a very famous person entering the picture and singing along. Little did i know that i was actually standing next to a Punk Rock legend from sunny Brasil. As i was tipped of the day after by Paulihno (from Flanders 72) it was their executive producer Davi, who is the capable guy behind recording, mixing and producing every single Flanders 72 record. It is a small town world on the punk rock circuit!

I think the Descendents gave the lot something like 90 minutes, they took on a couple of encores before hitting home with an on stage improvisation that had elements of Catalina and other songs. A really cool jam but most likely way too heavy food for most of the audience.

Just a perfect set in most likely a perfect setting (venue, date etc) for Hamburg. But this time round that ain’t the limit for me. With a gentle push by some of the Punk Rock Hamburg Descendents connoisseurs i took on to see them again, together with SIOA and some others, in sunny Barcelona.

In hindsight i should have just taken the week off, travel to Berlin and Munich and then Barcelona. Or i should have just abandoned all of these plans and travel south for some Ramonescore and Surf at the Punk Rock Raduno in Bergamo (something that some others of the Hamburg lot will do).

But hindsight is a silly thing (not a silly girl) and thus i just stick to what makes my heart warm and me feel good: The Descendents and their œuvre!

And for those who ignored it so far: It is you sole duty to get this movie into your household – you will be proud of the tears you will shed.

… the raunchy side of Surf down south!

Next to punk fucking rock i do dig Surf but never go into the live circut for that in Hamburg, only occasionally i realize that there is a a show with a twang and with a reverb. This time round it was them Splashdowns who caught my eye and a heads up from a mate towards the main band: Daikaiju was announced as hottest shit with a raunchy audience centric show. Sold i was!

The Stellwerk is former Jazz Venue at the Harburg central station, down south over the mighty river Elbe. It is located within the train station building has two nice rooms: A main hall with a colossal ceiling and a lounge that feels more like London Underground. So it fitted well that in main hall a Tango event was presented to almost nil customers and in the lounge it was Surfs Up! for … 20 customers…

Tango noir vs. raunchy Surf - Stellwerk style ....
Tango noir vs. raunchy Surf – Stellwerk style ….

It was Matrone, a local Guitar/Drum duo, to kick of the proceedings. Lacking bass and vocals they got plenty of gear as in effect board and computers: The sound was enhanced with loops, samples and playback from the computer.

Matrone (Stellwerk, Harburg, 05.07.2018) (c) gehkacken.de)

I don’t know what they call themselves but on the flyers for the show they where down as Grunge, something i would recon that does not fit at all as they are lacking the angry white young male in flannel element (on and in front of the stage).

For me they got some good moments (slower songs with lots of samples, loops and soundscapes) and some less good moment (faster songs lacking the power of a driving guitar). I think they are fresh and as such they will for sure learn and grow. But they are already different and maybe the do land in a little unique space. Good luck!

Next on The Splashdowns, well dressed and well behaved. I guess the NASA currently is not busy (lack of $ to send people to Moon or Mars) so these ground technicians are not needed at Cap Canaveral and a free to roam the world. I did miss them when they played the MS Hedi in April due to other commitments and as such i was happy to get to listen again to their more traditional SciFi Surf.

The Splashdowns (Stellwerk, Harburg, 05.07.2018) (c) gehkacken.de)

They seemed a bit frustrated with the show and the setup and they did not have their full Apollo Education Visuals with them – that for sure was a downside! But they had old and new songs and they are well rehearsed (next to well dressed). So here is one of their deep space songs (that transmits well with SCPS-TP via a PEP):

I love them. They are spot on where i want my Surf to be (and they are the next best option whilst Man or Astro-man? avoid our shores. I think i will need to do an effort to follow them more closely in order to satisfy my needs.

And that gave way to Daikaiju, 4 lads that came late and looked a wee bit different to all the other bands. And one thing for sure made them different and was that did set themselves up on the floor, in front of the stage. Now i realized what me mate ment when he noted audience centric. Once the drums where set it took them only minutes to undress, but on the masks, plug in the guitar and get going.

Daikaiju (Stellwerk, Harburg, 05.07.2018) (c) gehkacken.de)

And they did live up to the rumors: Very hard, very hard, very raunchy to the point speed surfing! It could have been guessed by the looks of band members, who could also be in a hardcore band.

And the audience? They liked it from the start, band members roaming around and taking actions with the audience. If only they would have been say 75 good people, then it would have a band in the middle of the circle pit and the audience roaming around in craziness – i’d love to get that view!

The stuns included ritual burning of drums and guitars plus guitar play lifted by the audience and as the final killer it was the full drums set (sans bass drum) and the drummer set up high in the air lifted by the audience. Below pic freezes that craziness quite well …

Daikaiju (Stellwerk, Harburg, 05.07.2018 (c) gehkacken.de)
Daikaiju (Stellwerk, Harburg, 05.07.2018 (c) gehkacken.de)

Sold! Big time. All i need now is to be able to buy more vinyl from them (they only had a split EP with them) and they come back and play a place like the Hafenklang, with a full house. That’ll be utmost fun – can someone please arrange for that?

Absolute great evening down south over that mighty river, i just about caught the last train back home (and me mate missed his to go further out of the city). The Stellwerk is a nice little something, let’s see for more shows there.

… surf pop the metal way: Welcome back Hard-Ons!

It has been a while that the Hard-Ons graced these shores, i can’t even recall when and where i did see them in the 90s the last time. But they stayed forever in my books as one of the bands that had an almost endless stream of great singles with excellent covers. Still, sometime after Yummy (their 1990 effort) they somehow lost me from a record perspective (i still got more than 10 records by them though) and some time later also from a live perspective.

Nevertheless it was worth it to give them yet another chance, specifically as they now are a 4 piece and they have Keish solely on vocal duties whilst new recruit Murray on drums.

The support slot on this warm and sunny Wednesday (that had Germany exiting the pretty useless 2018 FIFA WC vs. South-Korea) was for locals Bolanow Brawl and they took it with pride.

Bolanow Brawl (Hafenklang, Hamburg, 27.06.2018) (c) gehkacken.de)

I do not necessarily dig them but they have grown  quite a bit: They have a very tight sound and absolute excellent dual guitar play (and on top great whoooa-background vocals). But the thing that keeps me off is something like an undercurrent and that keeps being both that they sound like something i heard before and that their songs tend to be too complex and too long.

That second thing was actually a shared observation with a fellow friend in the audience who has a sufficiently successful career in a band so seems to be in the know much more than me when it comes to debunking mu-sick. But what they do they do very well, so i stayed on through the set (whilst many others enjoyed beer and sun outside).

Next on the Hard-Ons, now fronting about 75 people in a rather empty Hafenklang. I observed some initial surprised faces and heard some comments about the 4-piece thing, by the looks many people did not keep up to date with the ins- and outs of the Hard-Ons (breakup 1994, return 1998 without Keish and then 2016 the final return of Keish to from the 4-piece). But down-under is far away so that somehow comes natural.

Hard-Ons (Hafenklang, Hamburg, 27.06.2018) (c) gehkacken.de)

And the Hard-Ons gave all that you would expect: Loads of power, loads of metal infused whatever (someone on the internet (damn internet, never forgets) called it once „… a mix of punk, pop, and metal with dashes of power pop, psychedelic rock, thrashy metal, and a healthy dose of humor„). In the initial part of the set it was a wee bit too much of that long haired guitar work (though Peter Black is a terrible great guitar player and Murray/Ray are a terrible great driving backline).

There where also some fun moments, specifically as the well intended bad joke about Germany going out was met with sheer ignorance by the audience. On top i also liked that after 3 songs everyone but Keish uniformly took their shirt off to sweat it really out. And sweating they did.

And then came overtime and they gave the audience the choice. Some requests where denied („Sorry Mate, we did not practice that one…„) others where met with a smile (and a quick on-stage rehearsal of the chords). And within that, they also played one of my loveliest songs:

And yes, for me they still have it and as a 4 piece they actually have it even more. The only item to complain about was that guitar, bass and drum where quite loud and Keish was quite not loud enough. But i guess that comes natural when the dominant force is the strings.

And how did that one sound in the 90s – here is some MTV history for ya:

In the end they played like 90 minutes i guess and they put in all i want from a touring band: Energy, humor, humbleness and both listening to the audience and playing for themselves. No complaint here. I think i will now check out they more recent records too.

Perfect Wednesday out at my local club down the road and more to come in July (let’s see what happens to the Adolescents show given the sad news of Steve Soto having passed away).