… GERD, the unstoppable party machine, and the tale of the best agers!

It is quite rare that a rather unknown and local band, though it has been around for ages (but with limited visibility on the international rock circuit), is able to draw the likes of The Undertones, Jam, Small Faces and others as support.

But Gerd, Hamburgs loveliest party machine, is able to call these favours because the mu-sick industry played their dirty tricks on them. Rewind to 1972 and Gerd is alone and broke, his girlfriend Sonja left him behind and all his mates are in prison. But instead of giving in to alcohol he puts all his eggs into one basket and pens the Über-Hit „Born in Hamburg Horn“ followed by more Glamrock hits, only to have them stolen by less gifted (and greedy) rock musicians – from A like Adriano Celentano to Z like Zeppelin, Led. Name one of the big names of the 70s and they have at least one Gerd song in their rooster.

Whilst these suckers went on to enjoy sold-out stadium tours Gerd only got the occasional gigs in dodgy pubs in the lowlands of northern Germany. At least when it came to payment for these Gerd used all their street-smartness and came up with a clever approach: Instead of asking for a share of the door they asked for a share of the drinks turnover (knowing their fan-base was quite addicted to booze). Still, little fame was achieved and Gerd have been struggling ever since (even to the point that all of them have additional bands to play in in order to pay the bills).

Kick off for this eagerly awaited party night was with Perfect Cousins, who actually are 3/4 of Hamburgs old and beloved punk band Napalm: Arne sings, Lui on Bass and Reeder takes the drums. This added with two more capable members gets you the ultimate 1:20 party hits of The Undertones in real.

Perfect Cousins (Knust, Hamburg, 26.11.2016) (c) gehkacken.de)

And, as many folks over years noted, the rather nasal vocals by Arne are a perfect fit (and some even wanted him to join The Undertones upon Fergal calling it a day). A great set, this time well rehearsed and injecting the right fun into the crowd who immediately put on their dancing shoes.

Next on Jam Today, reformed from the ashes of Jam Today – starting the set with some Jam numbers as the traditional 3 piece they soon invited additional members onto the stage: The guy on the keyboard is not really a new add (was trialled some times before) but the 2nd guitar (which comes with great vocals) is brand new. And adds to their ability to try new styles.

Jam Today (Knust, Hamburg, 26.11.2016) (c) gehkacken.de)

Where the Perfect Cousins had an immediate effect on the audience, Jam Today dared to play it on the risky side and branched out into Small Faces, Style Council and classic mod rock like The Chords.

Audience reception was a bit luke-warm though they got their fair share of applause and support. I’ll guess with some further tightening of the set it will be a good one (though different and maybe no longer suited for the 50+ oldpunks just wanting to sing along to his or her hold hits).

And finally that gave the stage to Gerd, who where a wee bit nervous about this show as it was – at least for them – a headlining gig on a large stage. And they where nervous about turnout, as they had their share of gigs with less than 50 guests. So with a bright smile they came on stage and faced the 300+ people in the audience who gave them a large cheer.

Gerd (Knust, Hamburg, 26.11.2016) (c) gehkacken.de)

A massive 27 song set-list was the outset for the proceedings, almost a full account of all the hits they have written over the last 44 years and that got recording and airplay by another band.

GERD : Set List (Knust, Hamburg, 26.11.2016 (c) gehkacken.de)
GERD : Set List (Knust, Hamburg, 26.11.2016 (c) gehkacken.de)

It was like a bam-bam-bam rush through history, sometimes the songs where speeded up a wee bit too much (but i’ll take they simply got carried away by the audience that got going big time). And they even went that far to use additional outfits to complement the songs, just like here in the song that not only got stolen off them but time warped back by Dr. Brown:

And sure thing that was not the end of it, Gerd carefully and tongue-in-check assured that the audience was drunken enough to savour what was to come: The one big hit that Gerd was able to secure for themselves and that is an ode to their beloved hometown:

And whilst at it, booze is booze and Champagne is Champagne – or as they put it:

I've got the money, I've got the place
You've got the figure, you've got the face
Let's get together, the two of us over a glass of champagne

I guess everyone is able to sing along to side one! So let’s go:

By now and deep into the encore (and already late into the night) Gerd had the audience where they wanted it: Fully engaged, singing, dancing and well intoxicated.

Gerd (Knust, Hamburg, 26.11.2016) (c) gehkacken.de)

And Gerd being the ever cost effective party machine even sparred themselves electronic gadgets for intros and just used their hand clapping to – with a change of tone – move into one of the more dramatic songs:

… finaly finished with this one:

Just perfect! Gerd shows always had the annotation of a party – and this one indeed was one of the raunchiest parties of the year. On top of that Gerd being bold and brave moved it to the Knust and made full use of the bigger stage, the bigger audience and the bigger bar space (and booze storage).

The quest though is what deal did they strike with the Knust – door money or booze money? I think short over 300 people attended and about 2.500 beers plus additional booze was sold. According to the landlord of the Knust a very good number and almost the highest average of beer per person attending they have on record!

And that was followed by a great party in the bar with DJ Chrischan providing sing-a-long and dance-a-long classic hits for the best ager audience.

GERD : After-Show Party (Knust, Hamburg, 26.11.2016 (c) gehkacken.de)
GERD : After-Show Party (Knust, Hamburg, 26.11.2016 (c) gehkacken.de)

How did it look like – it looked like this:

For me just a perfect thing – so many friends (though with one mate who battled yet again in hospital still not able to attend), so much good music and such a great party. I was home „early“ in the wee of the morning and still full of energy!

Gerd offered to be back in 25 years, i’ll take them up on the promise! Next on are two more parties for the 50+ best ager crowd at the Knust: HH-Soundtrack 2016 Edition i am able to do (adjusted my work travel to fit), the Razors Burn down the Baum one i need to let go as i am out for a nice leave away from Hamburg over Christmas and New Year. I guess both will now take up the massive challenge that Gerd have thrown!

… giant mutant babies and an almost perfect sing-a-long show: The Dickies, yet again!

It is August and thus the Rebellion-itch is with many people – those who do the pilgrimage and those in Hamburg who need to decide what shows to see, as many bands use the short hop to Hamburg to add a couple of shows. It is oversupply times dear Bookers!

The Knust spared no expenses and rented a ritual dancing secret society to perform a ritual dance in front of the venue in order to lure people into the club. About 180 followed, which created some open space in the club that easily hold double the capacity. I’ll take it is down to another odd 100 folks from Hamburg ditching this show as they will see them next weekend in Blackpool.

Shirley D. Pressed (Knust Hamburg, 01.08.2016 (c) gehkacken.de)
Shirley D. Pressed (Knust Hamburg, 01.08.2016 (c) gehkacken.de)

Kick off was for Shirley D. Pressed who claim their mu-sick as „Poorly played Skatepunk since 2007“ and who made no impression on the audience as far as i can make out. They sounded too much No FX, too much Epitaph or Fat Wreck for my liking and lacked the genuine „this is us“ moment. But judge yerself:

I only watched a couple of songs and resorted back outside to engage with friends and listen to their Rebellion plans.

After some re-arrangements on stage The Dickies greeted the audience with their ode to Rosemary (and a little hick-up on the stage entry backdrop music):

It ain’t only the band – there is a new PA in the Knust and the sound is stunningly clear. And from there The Dickies took us through their catchy tunes and covers, all with a shitload of humour and comic style.

The Dickies (Knust Hamburg, 01.08.2016 (c) gehkacken.de)
The Dickies (Knust Hamburg, 01.08.2016 (c) gehkacken.de)

Stan Lee the ever smiling hat wearing guitar hero, Leonard the quirky singer plus their younger backdrop: Adam the well dressed drummer, Ed Tater the sturdy bass player and a new guy on guitar (as far as i could make out).

The Dickies (Knust Hamburg, 01.08.2016) (c) gehkacken.de)

It was hit-on-hit but it was also a wee bit short (and lacking some songs i would have selected). When querying Stan Lee after the show why they did not play their cover extraordinäre „See my way“ he agreed that it a class item but adding songs to the setlist with Leonard „… is like pulling teeth„. So after 40 minutes they called it a day.

The Dickies - Set List (Knust Hamburg, 01.08.2016 (c) gehkacken.de)
The Dickies – Set List (Knust Hamburg, 01.08.2016 (c) gehkacken.de)

Warning! They dropped „Killer Klowns“ and pulled „Rosemary“ to the start of the set – so do not just copy this into setlist.fm you donkey who has not been there!

And that giant mutant baby? He and his friend annoyed the majority of the audience, got two times what he deserved and he and his family generally made a laugh out of themselves. Pointless but well justified pit violence: Hey, THAT is punk rock you dickhead. Keep telling us you invented punk rock and that your behaviours are the only correct ones … makes our day.

This song thus is for you:

… THEY LOVE US, WE LOVE THEM, WE CAN WIN – NO WAY FLAG IIII WAS NOT A KILLER!

The tale of the two Black Flag incarnations has been an ugly one, with law suits and what have you but in the end of the day it boils down to mu-sick for me. And there it is a rather clear cut:

Greg Ginn’s outfit called Black Flag continued down the path of the late Black Flag and their – at least to my ears – slow and complicated metal style  and seems to be on hiatus since their ill fated „What The …“ 2013 LP (with a non-Pettibon cover that just illustrates how off Ginn seems to be).

On the other side founding members Keith Morris (vocals) and Chuck Dukowski (bass) play with former members Dez Cadena (rhythm and vocals) and Bill Stevenson (drums) plus the addition of Stephen Egerton (Descendents/ALL guitar hero) and keep their stuff clearly on the early Black Flag output (with some small excursions into heavier stuff, then sung by Dez).

And they name themselves Flag IIII and they are the clear winner on all counts. If you ask me. Curiosity test: For those who dare mix old Black Flag stuff with Keith singing with the first Off! EPs – and then guess what is Black Flag and what is Off!

Proceedings where kicked off with Teenage Hate from Hamburg and it was their last stand.

Teenage Hate (Knust Hamburg, 29.07.2016 (c) gehkacken.de)
Teenage Hate (Knust Hamburg, 29.07.2016 (c) gehkacken.de)

They were hampered with line up issues but provided a hard and to-the-point set nevertheless. Unfortunately, as ever, to a rather empty space in front of the stage and many folks rather having a chat and a beer at the bar. The missed songs like this one though:

Next on Krank from Hamburg (not the band with the same name and the allmost same genre from Zürich) and their „krankpunk„. They are in mind much more gifted than Teenage Hate but they did not get their recorded sound onto the stage  that night if you ask me.

Krank (Knust Hamburg, 29.07.2016) (c) gehkacken.de)

Strange one, normally it works out the other way round for – Bands prove on stage their worthiness. It might have been me that evening, it might have been the band or the soundman (though those working the Knust are trusted members of the circut) … never mind, make it up for yerself:

And that paved way for Flag IIII, who where quick and professional to set up their stage and then taking the same (and the audience in one go) with some simple tunes and yelling for „Revenge„.

Yep, that’s it. That is the sound of Black Flag. Delivered today. You can moan and bitch that Stephen Egerton „stole“ Greg Ginn’s guitar sound – i’d rather say he adapted to it. And without a stop they kicked into „Fix Me„.

No doubt, that is how i expect that part of the Black Flag history (or legacy?) to be delivered. To the point, perfect sound, stage presence and also visual (Chuck and Stephen storming forward).

Flag IIII with Keith singing (Knust Hamburg, 29.07.2016) (c) gehkacken.de)

And it also had wit and humour as you can see from the intro to „No More„.

That Chuck is bad-ass sure thing but that Bill now sports a massive chest and likes his nipples? Ok, that was too much! And as it was too much they changed over and Dez took the mike.

American Waste„, an often overlooked B-Side of the Six Pack EP. Me mate Frosch actually made a nice tip-off to said EP by greeting my prior to the show with a six pack (of warm beer to much disappointment).  „Spray Paint“ from Damaged was next and Dez slightly rusty voice fitted the bill to the max.

By now the audience was more than thrilled and singing, dancing and enjoying it like hell.

Flag IIII with Dez singing (Knust Hamburg, 29.07.2016) (c) gehkacken.de)

The only shortcoming for me was the massive amount of Turbojugend geezers that went to the Knust as all other Turbojugend-Days shows that night where sold out. In fact they got the real thing, for once.

If only some of the other lackluster re-unions had that power, energy and street credibility – the mu-sickal world would be so much better! But these two subsets did draw on the old folks so they needed a break.

Coming back for the encore Bill, in all his simple truth and with all his honesty, gave a short, simple and oh so true statement.

Indeed we have all been eager to get our hands onto that new Descendents album. Some in the US where lucky where it was shipped a week early, some in Hamburg where lucky as the postman delivered it at 10:00 in the morning and me pitiful me waited all day long for the postman … he never came (but dropped it on Saturday instead): I literally had a „Nervous Breakdown„!

That and a couple of more encores left a sweaty and soaked audience in the not fully packed Knust (and real disappointment if you ask me) and no way that this was not a killer show. It’ll be in my Top 10 for 2016 and it is a clear contestant for the crown so far.

Was that all that was delivered? No, they almost branched into spoken words, not sure if all got the jokes within it…

Yep, like all old fellas they talk about health and compare medical resumes. Just like me and me over 50 mates start to do. But where else do you get the old to chat about their medical up’s and down’s and praising the young for their recordings? Never ever out in your home town, i bet ya!

And that’s all? Nope, there is one more down in hi-story:

(c) Oldpunks.de / Holy War Archive
(c) Oldpunks.de / Holy War Archive

Next to the Dead Kennedys 1980 and 1982 Black Flag where one of the first CA H/C Bands to play Hamburg. Henry Rollins remembers this in his Black Flag Tour Memories („Get in the van“) as follows:

Henry Rollins - Get in the van ( (c) 2.3.61 Publications Inc. 1994)
Henry Rollins – Get in the van ( (c) 2.3.61 Publications Inc. 1994)

And we old folks remember it because Stickel (of Channel Rats fame) untied the show laces of the singer of the support band (Nig Heist if i recall correct) whilst standing directly in front of the stage. To much embarrassment for him and laughter for us he was ordered to re-tie them and did so.

I do not recall it to be that nasty with Skinhead violence but maybe as a local i was too much accustomed to it. I do recall though that me and me mates stood right there in front of the stage and loved it to the max – as much as me and me mates (and a couple of more in the audience) loved Flag IIII.

We love you – so thank you Flag IIII!