… Love always wins: Three Chords, No Brain – Punk Rock Raduno #4!

1st Part: July 10 – 12, from Wednesday‘s Welcome Night to the Riverdales Set on Friday Night

Hi www.gehkacken.de followers, it’s me (again), Frosch, reporting from the 4th installment of Punk Rock Raduno, the best little festival & music event in the whole fucking world: Not only for the music, certainly not because it’s for free, but because of the loveliest festival organizers/ most positive vibe you can possibly imagine: Franz Barcella, Andrea Manges and all of their fantastic staff, who are making sure each and every year that the long weekend mid July is going to be the best weekend of the year. A friendly and extremely joyful party atmosphere and lots of great surprises and special events are guaranteed during the course of the 5 days. This is part 1 out of 2 covering the first 3 days:

To kick the festival off properly we flew into Bergamo on the Wednesday, so that we could attend the Welcome Night in the evening. Same as last year it’s happening at Goisis Park, just a 15 minute walk from where we are staying. Our apartment has a little terrace, very convenient to meet with fellow travelers from Hamburg, relax and have some beers before heading out.  

Arriving at Goisis for the Welcome Night, the small stage and Raduno welcome area seem much more crowded than a year ago and we start worrying if this is getting too big already, after all it’s the intimate atmosphere that is making this event so very special. After greeting and hugging Franz & many more that we had met last summer (PEOPLE KEEP COMING BACK), The Creeps from Ottawa, Canada, are the 1st to take the stage playing an acoustic set. I find acoustic sets often unsatisfying to be honest, and frankly speaking this one is pretty  lame, plus they do not seem to pick the best songs either. The acoustic set by Even in Blackouts last year was much more enjoyable for me I have to admit.

2nd band playing is Bee Bee Sea from Italy, a garage punk band that is also going to play the MS Hedi end of August at the beloved Get Lost Festival in Hamburg. They play quite an interesting mix of psychedelic, 60’s influenced garage, OK, but also not completely my cup of tea. We are heading straight home after their set, having done this before we know that we need strength to endure, as the late great Ramones sang, and they and their musical style are the main reason for this festival.

Thursday is the day to get slowly into the groove, festival only starts in the evening, so you usually spend your time sightseeing in Bergamo. The 120.000 inhabitant city has quite a nice old town and is rather pretty overall. We arrive at Edone, a youth center and home of Punk Rock Raduno, just after 7pm and start record shopping right away. Many sellers and labels from all parts of Italy & Europe have stalls with great selections of records from Thursday to Sunday. I score the Manges 3LP box collecting all their early „7“‘s for a very fair price directly from Andrea Manges – Thanks!

After buying several records from Stefan Stardumb who runs one of the most important pop punk labels in the world from Holland I need to rush to the small stage where the Livermores from Ancona are playing. I did check them out before and really dig their RamonesPunk, which is also reminiscent of the Italian legends Manges at times. Really good live band too, and as I learned from the owner of their label Commando Records their 1st album will be released very soon – can’t wait.

Next up on the small stage are the Creeps, who are playing an electric set tonight. And… they are completely different to yesterday’s show at the Welcome Night. It‘s not only changing from acoustic to electrical. I honestly have to look twice if this is really the same band, the way they are acting, playing their brand of singalong punk with power and punch, driving their Italian fans in front of the stage totally nuts. An early festival highlight for sure, with lots of fans singing along, seemingly knowing every word of their songs. Well, here’s some pictures to prove it:

And now for the 1st band to hit the main festival stage, Derozer from Vicenza, an Italian legend in it’s own right, going strong for 30 years since 89. The last band announcement for the festival, they drew by far the biggest crowd. And it felt just like last year‘s CJ Ramone/Manges or Queers headline shows, everyone singing along to every song from the very start, arms up and air mattresses flying through the air. To be honest I had never heard of them before checking them out prior Raduno (they sing in Italian), but they got a bunch of great songs, play a pretty long set on this Thursday night and are celebrated excessively by their Italian fans. I guess the song „Vecchio Punk“ is their anthem, if you’re interested you might want to check this out or songs like „No Surf“ from their 1st album. Songs all sound a bit the same in some way, but hey we’re in deep Ramones worship territory here.

Friday starts very relaxed, with a brunch on our little apartment terrace. Relaxing at PRR always means missing out on something: This time it’s Larry Livermore, founder of legendary Lookout! Records, presenting his book „How to ruin a record label“ at Bikefellas coffee and, you guessed it, bike shop. Just before leaving for the acoustic shows that are happening in town this afternoon, Natali and me are treated to a special little acoustic gig by our housemates Frank & Yvonne, aka the UKUStripes. Their rendition of the Apers „Jamie Oliver“ is still ringing in our ears as we enter the Bomboclat Surfshop in town and what do we get?: Kevin Apers acoustic version of the song that he’d just started to play. Let’s call that just in time… As it’s impossible to get anywhere near „stage“, it’s a very narrow shop, I go for the backdoor:

Straight after we all make our way to the Ink Club, only a short walk away. Soon after we arrive we are buying a nicecat painting and 2 x „7“‘s from the extremely friendly Kepi Ghoulie, and as we are all cat lovers he is showing us a photo of his little black cat at home on his mobile, telling us a little worried that they have not been separated for so long before. Nice person! First up on the acoustic stage in the tattoo club are Gutter Romance from the UK respectively Berlin (they’ve moved from London), where Debbie and Spider (of Zatopeks fame) are living now. And they show just how awesome an acoustic set can be: Spider moving and swinging to the music, shaking his acoustic guitar like it was electric, and Debbie singing in the audience from time to time, before they are joined by Kevin Ghoulie and fellow Zatopek Will DeNiro on stage. They have what I like to call Ooomph, that extra bit of energy: they kick ass!   

Before it’s time for Kepi Ghoulie to hit the stage for the first time this Friday to play an acoustic set, people are hanging around inside the air-conditioned tattoo studio or outside in the yard. It’s pretty hot outside and vocalist Morten from Norway’s Yum Yums is moaning about the heat with sweat dripping off his forehead. Very funny indeed as they are one of the very best BeachSurfBubblegumPowerPop Bands on this planet, sun & summer fun being their favorite topic… Straight after Kepi has finished his witty acoustic set we head back to the apartment by bus before it’s time to set out for Edone and the festival grounds again.

We’re missing the Werecats set and most of the Ponches, another pretty good Italian band, as we decide it’s time for a Pizza. Edone Youth Center is offering a great choice of pizza at very reasonable prices, same as the fine beer & cocktail selection, and as the festival is free of charge it is obviously essential to eat & drink a lot to keep this wonderful event going. And then… it’s time for Kepi Ghoulie again. Backed by the Copyrights he is playing a fine set that consists mainly of songs from the excellent „Fun In The Dark“ album. I’ve to admit that I’m not all that familiar with Kepi and his work, but I’d just bought the re-release of that album (Kepi backed by The Accelerators) some weeks ago: an all killer no filler album with awesome songs about Vampires and Brain Scrambling Devices – smashing!

Soon after the Copyrights are back to play their own show. Once more I never really got into the Copyrights, owned their „Learn The Hard Way“ album, still owning their split with the Methadones. Fronted by the very likeable Adam Fletcher they put on a great and energetic show, I really need to check them out again. Their set has a Hit by Hit feeling, lots of short songs that make the Italian crowd go wild. Party! Party! Party! „Shit’s fucked“ for sure. Hard to compare as we didn’t make it back in time for their show with Kepi on the MS Hedi in Hamburg the following Monday, but what I could figure out from Dos Alert’s review and video, it just wasn’t the same. But then you always have a fantastic sound at the Raduno, don’t know how they do it, but definitely another big, big plus for the festival.

Finally, Dan Vapid & The Cheats were going to play their Riverdales set (they missed last year’s flight to the festival). And it was an awesome show from start to finish, certainly worth the wait. The Riverdales were one of the very first bands to pay tribute to the Ramones, sounding and looking pretty much like their NYC idols. Founded by Dan Vapid and Ben Foster aka Weasel in 1994 they released their 1st “S/T” record in 1995, same year the Ramones released their final “Adios Amigos” album, and continued until 2010 releasing 5 albums in total.

Dan & his boys are really making up for not showing up at last year’s Raduno by playing a really long set spanning all Riverdales albums, emphasis on the first 2 of course. A big party with hits like “Hampton Beach”, “Squirm”, “Mental Retard”, “Blood On The Ice”, “Party At The Beach” or “Fun Tonight”. The Raduno crowd is going completely crazy, it’s almost as mad as last year’s Queers set with crowd surfers galore and those air mattresses flying high in the sky. If I can remember right the 1st song of the encore is “Judy Go Home” from the 1st album, but I am absolutely sure that the very last song played is “Riverdales Stomp” from their 2nd , “Storm The Streets”. A proper anthem to send everyone home perfectly happy on this summer night. What a fantastic show!   

If you’re not bored and fed up by my report yet and would like to read more, stay tuned for Part 2 to follow shortly. After all the proper mayhem and insanity that is Raduno is yet to come, starting right away on Saturday morning with the Pop Punk Bus tour (including free beer, buskers & DJ’s) to the Dan Vapid & Cheats show at the Roller Derby… (and there will be some spectacular video clips too)

Editorial note: Pics are either by Frosch or from the Punk Rock Raduno Facebook site (and used without specific consent – please shout if that is an issue). Fanx anyway!

… 1 and 2,3,4 – another goodbye in a packed Hafenklang: CJ Ramone farewell!

Hamburg is melting under the heatwave, so it was a rather tough outlook to get down to a packed club and enjoy approx. 250 warm bodies on- and off-stage around me. But it was the DeeCracks from Austria and CJ Ramone on something like a farewell thingy – so most likely a great ramonescore night.

My short stroll down to the Hafenklang always takes me past the good old Kneipe zum Flohmarkt aka Krawall 2000. For a short time at the end of the 70s and the beginning 80s it was the home of Hamburg punk.

ex-Kneipe zum Flohmark / ex-Krawall 2000 - up for rent again!
ex-Kneipe zum Flohmark / ex-Krawall 2000 – up for rent again!

I think there were 2 or even 3 incarnations of it, the final one giving in on pressure from around (and sure above) i believe around 1984. This evening i noted that a „for rent“ sign is put up, so anyone with spare money and good nerves could rent it now and create, as me mate Dirk noted, the Krawall 2020! Anyone in for it?

It was quite surprising to see the audience in front of the almost (just a single number of tickets remained i guess) sold out Hafenklang: Sure loads of regulars (and the Hamburg Raduno contingent that had the luxury of seeing both in Bergamo) but also a distinct different type of Ramones-aficionados from far and older people for sure in for CJ only.

Kick off was for the DeeCracks and … somehow it came to a funny standstill. And a guitar being AWOL. Once all of that was sorted they gave the typical 3-piece ramonescore view: Feet wide, guitar low and a madman behind the drums.

DeeCracks (Hafenklang, Hamburg, 24.07.2019 (c) gehkacken.de)

For me they have a great spread of hard&fast and slower stuff and also they do have some songs i consider killer hits. On this occasion though the sound was, at least for my ears, rather lackluster and at least towards me the energy did not connect fully.

Some around me found it a wee bit odd that a Austrian-German speaking band gave English announcements but that was the least issue for me as i struggled with the sound in the first place. They gave a perfect warm-up for more ramonescore to come and they got not only their own fan base cheering but also others.

For myself i would have loved more off the hard&fast and specifically my loveliest song by them:

After some much needed fresh air it was time to get back into the sauna. The last time i saw CJ Ramone on a stage was actually way back in 1996, 16th or March in the River State Stadium in Buenos Aires. After the Ramones disbanded i still followed some their individual output, for CJ for example Los Gusanos or Bad Chopper but avoided to see either Marky Ramone, Richie Ramone or CJ Ramone live.

But it is never to late to change and what i head recently and what folks traded to me persuaded me to say goodbye to CJ. With him he got half of the Street Dogs, when i saw Lenny coming up the stage i was already positively surprise but then i also recognized the drummer, who was wearing a St. Pauli Kit, as the Street Dogs drummer. On top CJ had enlisted a young gun as the 2nd guitar.

CJ Ramone (Hafenklang, Hamburg, 24.07.2019 (c) gehkacken.de)

And what did i get? I actually got a wide mix of Ramones songs paired with his own stuff. At times it felt odd for me, at times it was actually great fun. It is a fine line to be a cover band of (partially) your own band. What was visible though was that large parts of the audience where only in it for the Ramones bit and i guess that is the reason why i stayed away from the three survivors.

That said, a killer songs like Wart Hog (a Dee Dee song from Too Tough To Die) can still send me shivers down the spine:

You don’t get the song? Here you are, try to sing-a-long:

Wart, wart hog
Wart, wart hog
Wart, wart hog
Wart, wart hog

I take some dope, I feel so sick
It's a sick world, sick, sick, sick
Doomsday visions of junkies and fags
Artificial phonies, I hate it, hate it

Death, death, death it's the price I pay
It's a sick world, what can I say?
No such thing as an even break
It's stealing and cheating, take, take, take

Wart, wart hog
Wart, wart hog
Wart, wart hog
Wart, wart hog

I wanna puke, I can't sit still
Just took some dope and I feel ill
It's a sick world, sick, sick, sick
It's a hopeless life, I hate it, hate it

It's a joke, it's a lie, it's a rip-off, man
It's an outlaw life, we're a renegade band
Doomsday visions of commies and queers
Artificial phonies, I hate it, hate it

Wart, wart hog
Wart, wart hog
Wart, wart hog
Wart, wart hog

Wart, wart hog
Wart, wart hog
Wart, wart hog
Wart, wart hog

(c) DeeDee Ramone - 1984 Taco Tunes ASCAP

Yep, that was nice. And frank, the mix of own songs with Ramones songs worked nice too and they got it all nice’n’fast. And that made them really really sweaty, great that they managed to play what felt like 30 songs.

Hidden in there was also this beauty:

That’s from his current record and i guess i will have to buy that one. It also worked absolutely perfect live – i am sold! They played until like 23:00 and then said goodbye with some smiles on their faces. Thanks indeed and thanks CJ for all the years!

I took me another hour of chatting and having another non-alcohol drink until i finally went home sweaty, happy and not wasted.

… a killer debut, a solid farewell and a triumphant return: The best show 2019, so far?

It took the Descendents and the Mighty Mighty BossTones 21 fucking years to come  back to Hamburg … and it took the mighty D.I. 25 years to be back at Hamburg shores, a place that in the end of the 80s and beginning of the 90s was full of D.I. devotees.

So when the news came around that they hit Europe the Hafenklang was sold out quickly: It was a Friday evening in Summer, they paired with Poison Idea on their farewell stint and had with Yard Bomb the hardest and corest local support that you could wish for. People came from far and also near – the Hamburg lot was in full contingent and even Bremen showed up in force.

The unpleasant support the support slot was for Causes from Hanover, they had to lure 200+ people drinking and chatting outside the Hafenklang into the main room and in front of the stage.

Causes (Hafenklang, Hamburg, 19.07.2019 (c) gehkacken.de)

They did not succeed. I gave it a try, as i am always keen to see new bands. But they just did not touch my soul with their rather dark punk. They also looked a wee bit static on the stage, so i had to let go for another beer and another chat.  But by all means, make up your own mind and check them out.

With a swift changeover it was time for Yard Bomb, currently for me the hottest hard core unit on the local circuit. And they kicked of like this:

Their drummer was absent with leave, so their old drummer filled in after leaving 5 years ago to give them the opportunity to excel on the same stage as D.I. and Poison Idea.

They had a rooster of 14 songs prepared and from the kick off it felt that they wanted to shove it up the audience ears with no fills and no frills: Net they clocked in at 21:05 for the 14 songs, that is a near perfect 80 seconds per song on average (and allowed for 10 seconds between songs).

Yard Bomb - Setlist (Hafenklang, Hamburg, 19.07.2019)
Yard Bomb – Setlist (Hafenklang, Hamburg, 19.07.2019)

Their visual on stage is still a nice spread: Rolf yells, moans and groans and has every muscle full of relentless energy, Benny smiles and hammers the bass and Sven has his guitar strapped high and generates both knife sharp chords and a chaotic swirl. And all of that backed by solid drumming (though sometimes you could make out that they most likely did not have too many hours in rehearsal together).

Yard Bomb (Hafenklang, Hamburg, 19.07.2019 (c) gehkacken.de)

I loved the energy, i loved the mu-sick-al Blitzkrieg and the take no prisoners attitude. At times i even had the feeling they would overtake themselves but i saw a couple of smiles on the stage so they looked all happy with the effort.

Yard Bomb (Hafenklang, Hamburg, 19.07.2019 (c) gehkacken.de)

They have a veritable hit (one of my top 10 songs by a Hamburg band) and that one sounded in a speed up trash’n’burn version like this:

Sing-a-long to this beauty:

Milhouse will be a better man
Next 40 years from now
Don't smoke
Don't drink
Don't fuck around
Everything is turning up 
On Milhouse right now

Will be a better man
The next 40 years
Will be a better man
Don't smoke
Don't drink
Don't fuck
Don't curse

Milhouse!

If you ask me for my humble opinion (and that comes with 40 years of listening to that genre called widely Punk or Hardcore Punk or even Hardcore) that is perfect song that you would think came out of California or Washington DC say 1983 – but not out of Hamburg, in the year 2014 resp. 2019. Kudos Yard Bomb – you got me!

That Poison Idea finally say farewell in contrast was less than a surprise. Too many in’s and out’s, too many health and other problems. And sure losses like the passing of Pig Champion  But Jerry kept things together like on this final tour, where a last minute change had to be done to guitars.

Poison Idea (Hafenklang, Hamburg, 19.07.2019 (c) gehkacken.de)

What the audience got was nevertheless a great showcase of the wide variety of the Poison Idea output (that actually stretches from 1983 to 2016 and still puts #recordcollectorsarepretentiousarseholes to a stunning test in getting a complete collection).

And how did it sound? It sounded quite well:

The strength of the set to me was that for more than half of the songs the audience carried the band forward with all the singing, dancing and energy – one final time both Poison Idea and Hamburg where indeed united in their loved for hard & cheap.

Poison Idea (Hafenklang, Hamburg, 19.07.2019 (c) gehkacken.de)

Jerry smiled a couple of times and thanked people for coming out. I’d like to reply that this was the minimum to do, they have been around for me almost all the time (and stock 18 record in my collection) and some of their output is definitely stuff that i will carry into the elderly home (once the rest of the collection is auctioned off to pay the fees).

Thanks Jerry for all the years of effort!

By now it was quite late (10 minutes to midnight) and there was still the headliner to come back on us after 25 years.

And this is how D.I. came back:

They came back as a 4 piece (though i heard rumors they would come with two guitars, did not get to check out more detail) and with a lineup that has been together now since 2003 (so for a while, though it is Casey who has been around ever since and that is since 1981).

D.I. (Hafenklang, Hamburg, 19.07.2019 (c) gehkacken.de)

Their strength sure is their early output until 1988 – for us over here the stuff was just like honey: Sweet. Sticky. And of quality. Little did we know over here about the many line up changes, there must have been like 20 different line-ups with Casey being the only constant.

But what it always had was a quality O.C. Hardcore sound. That cool blend of various bits of Rock, Punk, Surf and all of that neatly given some speed (in both senses).

D.I. (Hafenklang, Hamburg, 19.07.2019 (c) gehkacken.de)

Those with an eye for the more historic side of Punk Rock sure know that Casey was the original drummer for the Adolescents and as such he took great pleasure in the design of both the Yard Bomb debut 12″ and the matching T-Shirt. He even took it on stage and used it to deliver praise for the late Steve Soto (and that was echoed from the audience with some For Steve! returns).

And his old Adolescents classic (actually, again for those versatile in Punk Rock History, a Detours song by Messrs Royer and Agnew) was his own ode to his old mate Steve – here is Amoeba, 2019 Version by D.I.:

To no surprise the audience went ape shit. Loads of dancing, loads of singing and across the board very bright smiles not only in front of the stage but also to the back of a fully packed Hafenklang.

The most smiles actually came from the stage: Joey Tatar on drums not only does every trick in the drummer book with his sticks (and then some more not in any book), he also pulls faces left, right and center. Once you fixed your eyes on him you could not let go – it was utmost fun!

D.I. - The Drummer (utmost fun and pulling faces galor (c) gehkacken.de 2019)
D.I. – The Drummer (utmost fun and pulling faces galor (c) gehkacken.de 2019)

They came back more than once and they gave the audience everything and a wee bit more. As one of me mates noted it is not custom for US bands to come back for an encore – but coming back three times and late into the night, that is just class.

D.I. (Hafenklang, Hamburg, 19.07.2019 (c) gehkacken.de)

With all that fun, all that joy there where also toned down moments, moments where Casey (a heroin victim himself) praised those who made a step away from drugs (and never returned to them) and he was also careful enough to explain that „Richard hung himself“ is actually not a fun song but a hard truth. As such he urged people to take care of those around him. Well done Casey, well done.

Casey’s own issues with drugs have been in the news, up to and including not so fun family moments that made the press. His advise offered in an interview was simple: „My advice… hard drugs will ruin you and your music, unless you live in Amsterdam. Then you will write good music, but die young.

They played until 01:00 and they left behind a still full, fully sweaty and extraordinary happy Hafenklang. On top they also had class manners, thanking each audience member that came forward for a chat.

I resorted back to the bar for beer, to the merch for two Yard Bomb 12″ (that i have to picture below in color … because of the cover, sure thing) and a Poison Idea T-Shirt for me love. And more beer. And more chats.

I can only urge you to get this beauty upon real release (that’ll be 27.09.2019) or attend the record release party at the Hafenklang on 02.10. (with the mighty Razors and Suck). Make sure you buy like me an extra one to make it a gift. Try to convince someone outside of Hamburg of Yard Bomb! Mine will go south and i am looking forward for the feedback…

…  and with a broad smile i finally took off home, yet again through empty streets on my short stroll uphill and home.

Whilst i was on the way to bed, the docks yonder still kept working on the cruise ship – i wonder when that finally will be done with the makeover.

Thanks for Hafenklang for setting this up and thanks to lot and the bands for making it a very worthwhile entertainment. Farewell to Poison Idea, hello to Yard Bomb and dear D.I. – be back soon!