… it was a love thing: Knock Off and Alternate Action!

I guess it was the headliner that lured folks on a rather warm Wednesday to the Monkeys, against competition from the Guitar Gangsters at the Hafenklang. Alternate Action are fronted by Greg of Bishops Green fame and thus people knew they would get an in yer face show.

For myself i have to admit that i was rather attracted by what would be the first (and early – some people missed them) band on stage: Knock Off from that island yonder (that want’s to split away but can’t decide on how).

They planted themselves into my ears (and me heart) with this beauty:

Whenever i hear this song there are tears in my eyes as it reminds me of a friend who’s heart gave way too – the first time he recovered, the 2nd time he lost the battle. He is gravely missed and he remains in our collective memory – so to him you shall sing-a-long…

you get one life, so fucking live it!

i nearly died...
it opened up my eyes
i though i was indestructible

but i was wrong
i fucked it up again
i thought it was the end
but i got another go

(2x)
don't get me wrong
this ain't no love song
i fucked it up
i broke my fucking heart

well now i am back
i am stronger than before
and so its time to live not just exist

to raise the glass
to those who passed
and make the most of what we all got left

(2x)
don't get me wrong
this ain't no love song
i fucked it up
i broke my fucking heart

(2X)
don't get me wrong
this ain't no love song
i fucked it up
i broke my fucking heart

(4x)
this ain't no love song

But it ain’t all sad, whilst enjoying their set i got the good news that they shall return later this year to Hamburg, onto a bigger stage and a larger audience – i am looking forward to that year end fun eagerly now!

They pride themselves „as an onslaught of energy, with hard and fast songs alongside anthems with stick in your head choruses.“ and indeed that is what these three lads deliver.

Knock Off (Monkeys Music Club, Hamburg, 17.04.2019 (c) gehkacken.de)

Whilst lightning or showcasing was not their thing it became very apparent that what sounds like simple songs from the outside is rather clustered all over with brilliant songwriting. Just listen carefully, there are some real gem chords, guitar work and singing.

Knock Off - Set List (Monkeys Music Club, Hamburg, 17.04.2019)
Knock Off – Set List (Monkeys Music Club, Hamburg, 17.04.2019)

Good news was my fave song came early and it sounded like this:

Great stuff, delivered unpretentious but unfortunately to a much too low number of people in front of the stage (due to the rather early start). I was there but some mates came later and missed it.  Bad luck my friends, you missed a great set.

And according to my own rules (set to limit the extend of my record collection) of only buying vinyl once a band has persuaded me on stage i got Knock Off Vinyl and gear after the show. Try them yerself mate – you will not be disappointed!

Talking about disappointment provides a neat roll forward to the next band taking the stage: Aggressive from the sunny Ruhrpott. 5 distinct different folks on stage …

Aggressive (Monkeys Music Club, Hamburg, 17.04.2019 (c) gehkacken.de)

…. and just not getting me. Neither sound nor presentation. One of me mates noted „… a bit early to see the worst band 2019 already in April“ but i take that is an unfair comment. I do respect anyone who get’s up there and performs but if it does not work for me it just does not work.

... when the band does not work for me, black gold always works!
… when the band does not work for me, black gold always works!

By now the Monkeys was well filled for a Wednesday and people eagerly awaited Alternate Action. Formed a while ago (i think 2005) and with a more than 10 year hiatus they left behind only a small output. Still they hold still a bit of a status  most likely because they where and are fronted by Greg, who went to fame with The Lancasters and Bishops Green.

Alternate Action (Monkeys Music Club, Hamburg, 17.04.2019 (c) gehkacken.de)

That bass player looked familiar, it took some time for me to realize that he also takes duties with the Suede Razors. Just like Knock Off unpretentious stuff with Greg putting the needed bit of danger, anger and starring in.

How did it sound? It sounded like this:

I have none of their vinyl and only knew a limited number of songs but all in all they did surprise me. Sure the vocals stand out but the rest is also pure enjoyment: Some great hooks, some breaks and a sturdy backline.

Alternate Action (Monkeys Music Club, Hamburg, 17.04.2019 (c) gehkacken.de)

Alternate Action had the space in front of the stage packed and the (rather) male contingent dancing. Loads of people had some silent smiles on their face, others did sing-a-long loud. I think Hamburg indeed was sold on Alternate Action and i am damn sure that we will see a triumphant return in the near future.

If i understood it right this setup of Alternate Action will hit the studio next and will surprise us with a new record. If you look for the old stuff then take up the „Thin Line“ LP, a collection of old stuff and unreleased beauties.

3 bands, lot’s of good chats, one hard memory and all-in-all a worthwhile Wednesday at one of my favorite places. Life is good to me and #thereaintnuthingbetterthanlivemusic so thanks to those who make it happen!

Early Friday: Footie waste and Power Pop excellence!

Last time the Pointed Sticks Europe Tour was dropped short notice, as such many of the lot in Hamburg where quite happy that in 2019 a fresh attempt was made to get us to savior that Canadian Power Pop that has sustained the test of time.

Timing of that show though turned out to be more of a nightmare, first there was footie (18:30 Kick off) and then there was also a conflicting show at the Monkeys (with TV Smith & Duncan Reid). On top of that the Molotow (for whatever reason) demoted the show upstairs to the Skybar and to an early start (18:00 doors, 19:00 Support and 20:00 them Sticks). Conflict all over.

Me and two mates choose one half of footie and thus dropping the majority of the support, others choose to drop footie at all.

Millerntor (29.03.2019 18:29 (c) gehkacken.de)
Millerntor (29.03.2019 18:29 (c) gehkacken.de)

Those who dropped footie at all where the clear winners, another goalless performance by the Boys in Brown and thus continued questions around the ability of the coach to drive consistent performance and improvements (and he indeed is the reason why i don’t cover footie currently in my blog).

So with an urge to get out we scooted from the stadium to the Molotow and got the last bit of Sheep On A Tree. Hake, the singer, is most likely the most knowledgeable person when it comes to Power Pop with a Punk background as such he was very eager to have them Sheeps supporting them Sticks.

Sheep On A Tree (Moltow, Hamburg, 29.03.2019 (c) gehkacken.de)
Sheep On A Tree (Moltow, Hamburg, 29.03.2019 (c) gehkacken.de)

For the short bit i saw Sheep On A Tree sounded just great, despite Hake having been moaning on social media recently that the band was hiding from him (and practices). Tight, hard and fast and Hake getting the message across. In hindsight my choice of footie was wrong, i should have devoted my time to Sheep On A Tree. Period.

Next on Pointed Sticks and i am now making a wild guess: Half of the audience was only ever there because 1990s and later American Pop Punk bands covered them – the other (older) half was there because they came across them in the early 80s. Here is how they looked in Dennis Hopper’s 1980 movie „Out Of The Blue„:

They have been around with local success (and, given they signed for Stiff at one time, international recognition too) from 1978 to 1981 and came back together in 2006 with some regular shows and some new output (next to a plethora compilations, best off’s, re-releases).

The good thing though is that it is still the same people, well aged. And here is how they took ownership of the Molotow Sky Bar:

Great sound, great light and most likely the 2nd best band backdrop behind the drummer i have ever seen (it looked like a ripped t-shirt). Love that humble attitude!

Fun fact: The drummer looked really old but did a stunning job (eagerly eyed by some of the local drummers in attendance, who raised more than one eyebrow and more than one surprise smile).

Pointed Sticks (Molotow, Hamburg, 29.03.2019 (c) gehkacken.de)

They started with some upbeat songs and sounded very well: An almost lightweight 80s power pop sound (thanks for sure to the keyboard) and not over paced (and error some bands that come together sometimes do).

They did lack consistent stage attire but at least they had a stage trick: Singer and keyboard had a drink being served to the stage by their tour manager after three songs. That is the wild life of world wide rock’n’roll i guess.

The initial songs got quite some cheering but i sensed in the middle of the set that the audience was bit more reserved. Their detailed discography is not at my mind at all times, i can only assume they slotted in some songs lesser known.

Pointed Sticks (Molotow, Hamburg, 29.03.2019 (c) gehkacken.de)

Towards the end came more upbeat and sing-a-long songs, some covers (where the Beatles cover could have been dropped but i guess because of the proximity to where the Beatles played in the 1960s in Hamburg they wanted to do it) and it all accumulated into the one song that for many defines them:

Somehow it must be frustrating for a musician i guess, feels a bit „one hit wonder„. It also does not do them justice, as they are indeed a gifted power pop outfit with a much wider œuvre than that song.

Appreciation by the audience at that point was large not to say enthusiastic. So enthusiastic that they did break the early curfew opposed on them and gave a Sonics cover as their final song.

Great show by a long lost beauty. And quite surprising how many people after the show got records, t-shirts, tickets and god knows what signed. I was stunned and i guess that small but tight circle of devotees keeps them Sticks floating and enjoying. I did read that Japan was the sheer reason for them to get on again in 2006 and bet ya out there it is even more crazy.

Now back to square one – did the singer had a bald scalp (he is now hiding under a hat) back then? No, he sure had not:

Just like Maniac the day prior in the depths of the Komet cellar the Pointed Sticks up there in the Sky Bar should have deserved a bigger stage and a bigger audience beyond Punk Rock record collectors.

Nevermind, thanks for finally gracing our shores in style my Canadian friends! Your are welcome to return!

Late Thursday: L.A.’s finest!

Ever since Maniac impressed me big time at the Get!Lost!Fest! III i followed them closely and took and effort to get their output on vinyl. As such a date in Hamburg was a must, also for some of my fellow connoisseurs.

Some of them even did an effort to travel to Fuzzville in Benidorm and came back with lines like „Maniac – greatest thing on stage„. Unfortunately they did not get the big stage (and turnout in Hamburg), they rather got the cozy  cellar of the Komet and thus some 50 good people. In parallel C³I did grace the Hafenbahnhof, that opportunity i needed to let go in favour of L.A.’s finest.

Their support was from Berlin, The Roxies, and they came with super diverse stage personas: A towering slim girl on Bass, a bald guitar and a drummer straight from the 60ties. And an – by my guess – English singer that preferred to be in front of the stage and playing a dwarf.

The Roxies (Komet, Hamburg, 28.03.2019 (c) gehkacken.de)

They play upbeat garage punk with a distinct voice – not really my thingy. But absolutely listenable live (and live is how music must be experienced). I would not buy a record from them but hey make yer own judgement mate:

Quick set and what did stay with me was the guitar – some nice and hard chords. And i think they played an unexpected extra too.

They passed the helm to Maniac who very efficiently set themselves up, leaving the tiny stage to drums and rhythm guitar, with Zache and Justin roaming and singing in front of the stage. And it started like this:

If there is one thing that stands out it is the near perfect mu-sick-al experience: Great sound, great gifted musicians. That paired with great sing-a-long/hum-a-long songs with hooks and breaks at the right place, twin guitar perfection and a sturdy back line. And on top pace. Decent pace. Without loosing it in speed.

Maniac (Komet, Hamburg, 28.03.2019 (c) gehkacken.de)

I was sold on them anyway but this little beauty of a set convinced me that there are one of the top 10 hidden gems out there. In my book of great music they own a chapter, also because they are super friendly, with the right humor and because they get songs done with a great deal of street credibility:

Sing-a-long:

I saw the white coats walking by 
penetrating empty gaze 
Midnight Kino's dirty light 
failed to complete the exchange 

What have I done 
Lost it all on the Reeperbahn 

When Van Gogh cried out for mercy 
all the people stared amazed
daughter of joy or a lady boy 
failed to complete the exchange

What have I done 
Lost it all on the Reeperbahn  

What have I done 
Lost it all on the Reeperbahn 
Pajas por el Reeperbahn
Pajas por el Reeperbahn
Pajas por el Reeperbahn
Pajas por el Reeperbahn
Pajas por el Reeperbahn
Pajas por el Reeperbahn
Pajas por el Reeperbahn

(c) 2016 Maniac

Come on lads, that is a perfect pop song (and that great finish with the guitar mimicking the sound of a Hamburg Police car? Priceless).

Perfect show, though late and down in that tiny cellar. Can we please give Maniac a bigger stage and 400 good people attending? And a 90 minute slot? I wasted no time to buy the 300 limited tour edition in blue vinyl (continued note to self: record collectors are pretentious arseholes) and enjoyed further stories of Zache discovering footie in L.A.

Thanks Maniac, you made my (and some of the mates) Thursday!

Thanks to Wild Wax Shows for making this one happen!
Thanks to Wild Wax Shows for making this one happen!