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!

… sober January ends Fucked Up!

For me this January was a month of rest and contemplation – after a hectic and full on 2018 i decided to pause. For some part willingly (eg. booze) and for some part unwillingly (eg. a man flue aka near death experience had me down so i missed some shows). At the end it was for the good old Fucked Up from snowy Canada to win the „First show of the year“ Medal and lure me away from the fire place.

It was a strange setting, an early start and an unknown support band. It turned out to be Chastity from Whitby, Ontario, and they turned out to be somehow like a 90s revival band. Or, as someone in the audience pointed out, „… they seem to know their Grunge very well„.

Chastity (Molotow, Hamburg, 31.01.2019 (c) gehkacken.de)

They were definitely not my mu-sick-al chair, specifically when the vocals had spoken-word/rap style. They though had one song much slower than the others and that turned out to be a real beauty. I think it was this one – so check out yerself:

On the visual side they where quite funny: A shy, geeky guitar with a massive effect board, a hidden drummer, a french style girl on bass and a long haired guy on vocals. The looked a bit battered, so i guess that tour in tow with Fucked Up was demanding for them. But they gave their best and that’s why i gave them some applause.

Next on Fucked Up, the sole reason why the Molotow on a cold and snowy Thursday was sold out (actually it was sold out in advance, as the Hamburg lot ha to wait way too long to have them back). If you where new to Fucked up then yet again the visuals would make you wonder:

There are plenty of amps on stage and that is because they sport 3 (Three!) guitars. And 5 out of the 6 members neither look hardcore nor act hardcore. But paired with Damian on vocals they are a just a perfect visual and audio representation of the term „Wall of Sound“.

Fucked Up (Molotow, Hamburg, 31.01.2019 (c) gehkacken.de)

Their cupboard nowadays is labeled „alternative hardcore punk psychedelic punk punk“ and whilst that might be the spread they entertain it is the sheer perfect guitar sound by those three gentlemen on guitar that singles them out: They play in sync but still provide soundscapes that widen the experience into all sorts. Stunning. Just stunning!

The only item odd, as almost ever with the Molotow, was the lights and the sound. Even the guitar player on the far right was at length unhappy with either his sound in his monitor or the others sound back to his monitor. On top there was also some technical defect that made the vocals disappear during one of the songs.

Fucked Up (Molotow, Hamburg, 31.01.2019 (c) gehkacken.de)

But hey, that’s real life and that’s not driving for perfection but for honesty, integrity and message. I loved them, me mate around me loved them and all of us greedy record collector scum will most likely never complete their releases: 11 Albums, 54 singles and still counting. Their latest effort is here, check it out:

It started early, it finished early and i stayed away from booze on the last day of January too. And i also accomplished the final stroll home through a nicely snow powdered city. And lucky me, i live a mere 5 minutes uphill from the Molotow – so a very enjoyable day ended with an very enjoyable walk home.

And thanks for the snow Damian!

… it must be a great power pop show when them girls are dancing!

Jeff Burke (of The Marked Men and The Reds fame) is not only relentless when it comes to playing but also song-writing, collaborating and helping other to record their music. He is also relentless when it comes to do things quick end efficient. And thats why i like to watch him setup, tune and play. Forever.

Kick off at the Molotow on a warm evening though was with Hamburgs finest, at least according to a singular acclaim by one of me mates, The Dutts. He claims they are currently the best thing in Hamburg though i would have some doubts. I’d recon they are at least very active currently and make sure they are heard.

The internet (damn internet, never forgets) has them down as:

Equipped with a Sean Wood-like, gloomy, denouncing throat, border-cracking guitar, an unstoppable rolling bass, precise and pulse-strengthening drums, The Dutts are the maximum charge of atropine against the simplicity and clichés of our small universe. 
The Dutts (Molotow, Hamburg,09.05.2018) (c) gehkacken.de)

And funnily that is exactly what you get: A sturdy bass, yet again played by a lovely female contingent, a metronome like drum player, pushy guitars and a voice that you either love (some) or hate (few). And hows does it sound? It’s sounds and looks exactly like this:

I like them but i would not necessarily go the extra mile for them (eg. to Bergamo for Punk Rock Raduno – that would require The Windowsills plus The Veterans). But they have some neat edges that make them actually worthwhile plus they definitely have humor. And a local fan base in numbers. I guess i will see them soon again, looking forward.

With a quick changeover it was time for Bad Sports (one of my secret favorites), who initially where quite nervous as they faced a complete empty Moltow. They had to be persuaded that just a little noise would be enough to bring the lot back from the fresh air of the backyard into the main room – and quickly that happened.

Bad Sports (Molotow, Hamburg,09.05.2018) (c) gehkacken.de)

They started off with something that almost did tear my ear – for my liking the guitar had way too much of a metal sound. I am not an expert on these matters but somehow that – at least for me – took some of the groove away. During the set that was corrected and they sounded so much more fitting. And, as a start, they got the first people moving.

And that lead towards Radioactivity, with was Jeff Burke plus Bad Sports with changed strings. And they kicked off, efficient and quick, like this:

And from that moment onward there where a lot of happy people in the now packed Moltow. And specifically there where a lot of happy ladies in the front row, some of the frantically dancing throughout the whole set. A nice change in audience look and feel and stark reminder on what type of mu-sick is being played: (Power) Pop Music like in Popular Music.

Radioactivity (Molotow, Hamburg,09.05.2018) (c) gehkacken.de)

And as ever, efficient and quick, Jeff did not talk to the audience nor introduced a song but only ever let his music be the message. And that message was well received and got quite some cheers and movement. Just puuuurrrfect as i’d like to say.

Way to early (though with an encore) Radioactivity finished up around midnight and the lot reverted to plundering the merch stall. From the 100 singles in red vinyl done for the tour exclusively some stayed right there with me and me mates.

And as it was a warm May Wednesday evening leading up to a a public holiday next day plenty of people stayed on having some more beers and chatting away. Lovely, that is how it should be: Popular live music and some drinks and chats with friends.