… a neat entry into a joyfull power pop weekend: Litterbug and Cyanide Pills upstairs!

A rainy Thursday evening is actually the least best day for a crowded show, specifically if there is other entertainment in town too. Crowds where either drawn to the Fabrik (to see MC50 and Wayne Kramer) or to the MS Hedi (to see Nothington) … or upstairs to the Hafenklang in order to get ears ready for more serious power pop with the Undertones on Friday.

Me and many friends decided for the Hafenklang and whilst initially it felt empty it later was decently filled (though not sold out). First on Jitterbug from sunny Blackpool (that seaside town up north that is subject to the annual pilgrimage by many of the Hamburg lot).

Litterbug (Hafenklang, Hamburg, 29.11.2018 (c) gehkacken.de)

Jitterbug play fast paced punk with some great bass play (and an almost hyperactive bass player) and less great singing. One of me mates noted „the guy on guitar seems to have too much on his plate when he also sings“ but for me it was still on the ok side.

Would i go the extra mile for them? Nope. Did i appreciate their set? Yes indeed, at times their sound had some great speed variations and – as said – some great bass lines. In most of the songs actually the bass did carry the melody, something that only few bands make their unique selling proposition.

What did stand out too was their merchandise, brilliant T-Shirts and a killer T-Shirt for all UK Punk literate collectors:

... one of the greatest T-Shirts recently!
… one of the greatest T-Shirts recently!

#1  Love for 1977, #2 A Tape and – with all tongue in check needed – #3 A Porky Prime Cut (and those who can not relate to that never ever called records from the hey days of Punk in the UK their own). Well done mates, well done!

Without too much hassle the stage was turned over to them Pills . If you don’t know them – here is how they set themselves:

Biography

Born a loser
Alcoholic, substance abuser
Hated, loathed with no fixed abode
Jinxed, given a curse
To never be best, always the worst
A peasant who wants to be king
PHIL PRIVILEGE attempts to sing

Bad tempered, aggressive
music obsessive
Never the banquet
Only the crumbs
CHRIS WRIST bangs the drums

Glassy eyes, greasy skin
Constant depression is a state he’s in
A dirty, nasty rat faced critter
Runt of the litter
SY PINKEYE guitar picker

Petty criminal
Small time crook
Broken home, bad neighbourhood
The human race hates his pretty face
ALARICK ‘THE TRICK’ plucks the bass

Liar, faker, liberty taker
Sleazy vain, a wannabe stud
A rotten piece of Norwegian wood
A drunken lout with insatiable greed
ALEX ARSON strums the lead

A gang of c***s from a desolate land
Ladies and Gentlemen I give you the band….
CYANIDE PILLS

And they stormed into their set like this:

Just perfect: High energy power pop, scent of glam and and undertone of punk. And 5 different stage personas with unique schemes, grins and … sound. I felt victim to them a long time ago and i am always stunned that they are able to re-surprise me. In principle i know what will happen but when it happens i am still stunned.

Cyanide Pills (Hafenklang, Hamburg, 29.11.2018 (c) gehkacken.de)

They blasted song after song, had fun on stage and fun off stage and made a lot of people in the audience smile (and some even to dance). To many outsiders they may look like a degenerated lot but in fact they are there to remind people that music is relevant for quite some time (when repacked every once in a while).

And after blasting through 20something songs they ended the set on another highlight:

Conquered!  Though forever i will put forward the request that actually they do play my loveliest song! Please!

When the lot dissolved after the show it was a lot of „see you tomorrow at Undertones“ and that is exactly what i will do. Just to get more of those 2:00 long power pop pearls!

… back with a twang: Moving Targets – too early for me, too good to everyone!

The Moving Targets coming back to Hamburg, sure thing i got my ticket early. Unfortunately my work schedule played some tricks on me and the only trick i could play back was to leave Rotterdamn on Wednesday at 17:00 sharp. But that only ever got me a flight back home dropping into HAM at 21:50 … even under best circumstances that would get me down to the Hafenklang at 22:30 only.

But thanks to me big love i got a lift from the airport, could switch clothes whilst in the car and thanks to the 354 horses under the hood of our Sir Q and me wifes stunt drive abilities i was able to check-in at 22:22 … but only ever to be greeted by the warm guitar sound of the Moving Targets, who already had taken the stage.

Moving Targets (Hafenklang, Hamburg, 10.10.2018 (c) gehkacken.de)

But good music requires extra efforts and sometimes hardship. I sneaked into the crowd but was greeted by friends already there with some raised eyebrows and notions of being late. Little did they know about the length of the travel!

The Moving Targets today are Ken Chamber (as ever) paired with two Canadians as far as i understood. Actually a pairing that worked well – all the charm of the mu-sick is still there. Their deep roots into Boston Hardcore sure are wiped off today but them being at par with the likes of Misson of Burma or Hüsker Dü is still the setting.

For me the sounded almost perfect, some hickups (this was the first day of their European Tour) and some slight deviations most likely will go by once they are fully together. What did strike was the smiles both on stage and off stage – i guess 120 devoted people savored them and most of the moved in tune with the music and smiled away.

My bad luck though still came – once i was fully into it the show was over, damn but sure thing my very little private problem. Whilst many left quickly i stayed around for a couple of drinks to wind down and actually had a little chat with Ken and the Drummer – super friendly people and spreading the good news that a new record and another tour is ahead next year.

Then i will make sure i am on time. Promise!

… only if you are open for something new you’ll be surprised!

Following the raunchy party of the Bar Stool Preachers the day prior i felt drawn to the Hafenklang again, this time by word of mouth only: It’ll be great a trusted source within the business told me. Also references to Dead Moon were made but that band never got my ass of the sofa (for all sorts of reasons including „always the wrong date“ and „too hairy„). But trusted sources are trusted sources and thus i took the short stroll down to the Hafenklang on rather lonely Friday evening.

Always my view when approaching the Hafenklang ( (c) gehkacken.de)
Always my view when approaching the Hafenklang ( (c) gehkacken.de)

The same would be awaiting me upstairs at the Hafenklang: Two bands, one bar hand, one sound man and one trusted source. With pride i was paying customer number one and my guess „… not more than 25 people will show up“ turned out to be the euphemism i feared it to be.

First on H¥ena from Bremen, never heard of and to my surprise it was two guys only (with some big amps). And by the looks it was a Biker (that had better days) and grandma’s loved one – strange looks, strange setup. And once they plugged in and stumbled into the first song i was „uuummmmhhhhhh„. Whilst the first say 10 chords made all fear come true the initial song turned into the most heavy and massive wall of sound i have heard in a while.

H¥ena (Hafenklang, Hamburg, 14.09.2018 (c) gehkacken.de)

I have no clue what the guy on the guitar does with his 6 string, a massive pedal board and two amps (and his guitar wired into both through some effects) technically but the outcome was sheer great for my ears. Wow – that got me. Big time. On top of that it turned out that the biker actually is a Professor for German Literature (and comes with the ability to not only produce a perfect drumming but also incredible command of the German language and it’s finer details).

It has been a while that a support band did strike me this way, what a massive sound. Stunning! And the songs where also not that bad – some just power blasts, some with neat stop/start and complex details. The set their turf as „two man- bluespunk / dirty rock for fans of turbonegro, the bronx, rory gallagher, beasty boys, queens of the stone age, motörhead and justin bieber“ and i guess the only truth in there is good old Rory (though i believe that the guy from Bremen is not on a liver destruction path).

Well done boys, you surprised me! They claim to have a record out in weeks and it did strike me if this type of mu-sick actually works on vinyl. I will check it out but i can’t promise that it’ll work in the same way as live.

My advice: Go and feel H¥ena!

Next on Top Down and they started a bit holperig (i guess the 6 hours on the motorway from Berlin to Hamburg plus the empty space in front of the stage did not help to set the mood) but with a different setup and style: Sturdy drumming, and bass/guitar sharing singing duties on a single centered mike.

Top Down (Hafenklang, Hamburg, 14.09.2018 (c) gehkacken.de)

At times they were not my thing at all, at times there sounded almost perfect. For me almost every song sounded somehow sad but i could not make our the lyrics at all. They are a true international bands: Bass from Portland, Guitar from Berlin and Drums from Transylvania. Some of the few folks attending did nod on some songs and did smile on other – for me only those songs with some speed and in power pop territory made sense.

Would i go the extra mile for them? Nope. Where they bad? Nope. Would they deserve a different setting? Yes indeed. Playing a lonely club definitely is on of the challenges you have to face as a musician so it’ll be ok for them.

With that i took off back home, no hanging around just „time for bed“. But not without enjoying the empty harbor area just again.

My favorite view on the way home ( (c) gehkacken.de)
My favorite view on the way home ( (c) gehkacken.de)

That view is just a stone throw away from one of the old spots in Hamburg Punk History: The Krawall 2000 was located on this block to the right. And the area has changed big time from the run down area that was left to rot back in the 1970s to a lot of newer houses and better restaurants, bars and clubs. But that harbor is still there in always in view.

... on me way home ( (c) gehkacken.de)
… on me way home ( (c) gehkacken.de)

And that harbor never stops (remember, it’s a tide harbor) and as much as the harbor never stops you should never stop going and daring to take surprises on the live mu-sick circuit: It is worth it and much better than the telly (and at par with a good read) and you get complete surprises like H¥ena (from Bremen, of all places).

Good night and thank you for the fish universal scholar Dr. Axel Stoll!