… this is who we are, this is how we feel: Descendents!

When this years summer stint of the Descendents in Europe was confirmed i got quite eager to see where they would take camp besides known events like Punk Rock Holiday or Rebellion. To my surprise it was Hannover and the rather small Kulturzentrum Faust.

The good thing: I got 4 tickets (equals a car full of friends) on Day One of the ticket sale. The other good thing: Hannover is like only 160 KM south of Hamburg, so in reach of a quick ride.

The bad thing? It would be a weekday and it would be during peak traffic. The even worse thing? Construction on the motorway, narrowing it from three to a single lane. Paired with a chain of trucks, broken down trucks and end of summer school holidays this resulted in queues. Long and slow queues. It took us from our after work meeting point in Altona more than 3 hours to get there…

… only to realize that No Sugar (who had a slightly longer drive) got stuck and could not make it in time at all.

As we spent way too much time in the car we were thirsty and hungry, so instead of Useless ID we had a drink and a bite at the Faust with the other folks from Hamburg who made their way. We got a bit of the end of Useless ID and for my liking they are just way too soft. That type of Fat Wreck mu-sick that i happily let go.

Many people in the packed Faust left for fresh air after the Useless ID set, the Hamburg lot rather advanced to the front of the stage to make sure it can live out it’s Descendents appreciation. Fandom. Support. Whatever.

Most important things first: A scan of the setlist. And 30+ songs would wait for us, with a pretty good spread (though missing like 30+ favorites).

Descendents - Setlist (Kulturzentrum Faust, Hannover, 08.08.2019)
Descendents – Setlist (Kulturzentrum Faust, Hannover, 08.08.2019 (c) gehkacken.de)

As the Descendents did the headliner rock’n’roll setup (support had to setup in front of the Descendents gear) they were ready in minutes. Still, they took some extra time to kick off, eagerly awaited by the lot (checking times every minute). And in their typical unpretentious style they took the stage, smiled at the audience and gave it a little chatty intro to Suburban Home (and yes, we want to be stereotyped, we want to be classified).

Descendents (Faust, Hannover, 08.08.2019 (c) gehkacken.de)

From the first chords on i had the feeling of something slightly more intimate, something more outgoing than the last two shows i saw: Markthalle and Barcelona last year. It may well be the much more cozy location, it may well be the not barricaded stage or it may have just been the fact that we had handshake distance to Stephen and got individually carried away into „this is my very own private show, they play just for me„.

Descendents (Faust, Hannover, 08.08.2019 (c) gehkacken.de)

Bill as ever towering behind his giant drumset (i guess he uses the biggest crash cymbals i have ever seen on tour), the smiling Buddha with his headphone. Karl, the only guy i recognize to avoid a plectrum on the bass, holding things together and always looking out for the others. Stephen with his relentlessly shredding of his guitar and constantly throwing faces at the audience. And Milo being the most subtle front man, taking some songs light and on others throwing himself in like nobody else. I guess he takes some lyrics indeed personal!

And funnily they are all my age (MYAGE!) and a still „I don’t wanna grow up“ means as much to them as it means to me (having had the poster on my wall for ages, actually until i got married and moved into a single apartment with me love).

Here is a snippet from @descendentscrew:

And if your eyesight is not impacted by computers, TV’s and mobile phone screens you can see the Hamburg lot at the far end of the stage, dancing away led by our Punk Rock Hamburg Nightingale, a Descendents fan extraordinaire. Sure thing she is also known to the Descendents and as the Hannover lot failed to pick up singing a chorus Milo resorted not only once but twice for her assistance…

Milo and Christiane (Kulturzentrum Faust, Hannover, 08.08.2019)
Milo and Christiane (Kulturzentrum Faust, Hannover, 08.08.2019)

Will she wash her hands? Will she be able to sleep back home in sunny Hamburg? I guess she was simply happy as a fuck, though being a Rock Star herself with GERD (a band that fills stadiums rather than small Hannover clubs). As a Rock Star she doesn’t give a damn about her bad reputation and lives out her fandom totally unconstrained. Luckily only one audience member from Hannover recognized her, else it would have been news in the yellow press yet again.

The Descendents played on and on but also somehow rushed through their set (at least it felt so). I lost count of the songs, they also did re-arrange some of the order and at the end surprisingly came back for an encore. Years ago it was alien to all the US bands coming over  but today most of them have adjusted to give something extra once they feel they got some extra appreciation from the audience.

Descendents (Faust, Hannover, 08.08.2019 (c) gehkacken.de)

I did not take count but they finished around 23:00, so that’ll be 75 minutes of perfect popular music if you ask me. And indeed the feeling we all had („this was better than Markthalle last year„) seemed echoed from the stage: Whilst the rest of the band was already off stage Bill stood behind his drums and smiled away with a bright and bold smile, two thumbs up. The Hamburg lot did echo this, making it 4.

Descendents - 4 Thumbs Up (Kulturzentrum Faust, Hannover, 08.08.2019)
Descendents – 4 Thumbs Up (Kulturzentrum Faust, Hannover, 08.08.2019 (c) gehkacken.de)

And also the Hannover crowed did cheer a lot. On top i saw a lot of smiling faces, actually also quite some younger ones. I guess for them it was the first time to be blasted away by the Descendents.

We did not rest long, as we all had to work on Friday. A quick beer, a chat and back into the car. The drive north was nicely empty, so we made it home in less than 2 hours. And thanks to the foresight of our youngster on board we still had cool beer for the drive home.

I think i noted a couple of times that i am not a big friend of away tours when it comes to mu-sick. The Descendents though are worth that cause, period. I guess i will have to make sure every summer to catch them at least once. And i know that i have friends in Hamburg who will happily join in – just puurrrfect! #thereaintnuthinbetterthanlivemusic!

… 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.