… 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!

Bonus, Bonus, Bonus: Milo, Stephen, Karl and Bill reloaded in sunny Barcelona.

I am not necessarily a big away follower when it comes to shows, i prefer the smaller clubs in Hamburg. Some of me mates tend to go wide and far for mu-sick but that itch rarely get’s me: All attempts to lure or shanghai me to Blackpool for Rebellion just did not succeed. That said, there are some mu-sick-al items that make me at least listen. And so i did listen to the proposal of seeing the Descendents twice on this years short European Tour despite my dislike for festivals per se.

The destination was Barcelona and the weekend was going to be a long one, fly in on Friday and leave on Sunday. That gave time for us to see something more, including for me visiting an old work mate that got stuck in Barcelona 14 years ago and never got around to leave.

Following an easy flight out our little travel group split apart, my two friends went to town to dine with others of the Punk Rock Hamburg travel circus and i went down south and suburban to Castelldefels to see me mate.

Out there in the suburban homes of Castelldefels (c) gehkacken.de)

Out there it is indeed very very nice: Beach, Mountains (with Foxes not on the run) and many Football Player homes. We had a great Dinner at the local Marina and loads of chatting about work, life and family. And whilst i took the scenic route out with Public Transport (for cheap € 2,20) i choose the taxi home as the last bus was gone when we parted.

Next day we met late and did some scouting through the city in damn heat. It is nice but it is also very much a tourist destination – very crowded. We strolled around until we gave in and rested for cold drinks and food in a local cafe.

Following a nap in the strategically located Hotel near the venue we took on to get a bite and then into the proceedings. Proceedings that were going to be lengthy but hey, never complain.

We screwed up eating, as the place we choose was actually part of the location and thus did not serve as we thought. Never mind, food is overrated, so into the Poble Espanyol and drinks it was.

The location was uphill and an artificial Spanish town yard … and well empty when we arrived.

La Inquisición (Barna'n'Roll 2018, Poble Espanyol, Barcelona, 14.07.2018)
La Inquisición (Barna’n’Roll 2018, Poble Espanyol, Barcelona, 14.07.2018)

Up on stage where La Inquisición, a young local band. They had the fun to play vs. the sun and for a rather empty space. They got some cheers but did not manage to impress me. I guess that stage and that emptiness was just too big for them.

Next on A Wilhelm Scream and as they did not impress us on Tuesday in Hamburg we happily let them go. Watching them from the distance (as far as it got actually) we all concluded that they are just not what we like nor need.

Gatillazo took stage next and they seemed to be local heroes. Not only a couple of shirts where to be seen in the audience but also loads of sing-a-long by the locals.

Gatillazo (Barna'n'Roll 2018, Poble Espanyol, Barcelona, 14.07.2018)
Gatillazo (Barna’n’Roll 2018, Poble Espanyol, Barcelona, 14.07.2018)

For us it was complicated: We do not speak the local language and we just do not understand what they are singing about. Luckily the singer was a bit single minded and from his many wanking gestures we at least where able to conclude it was either about lone male teenage sex or something similar. And we made out some potentially negative comments about the police and about Real (as in Real Madrid). From a musical perspective there where most likely the equivalent to Fun Punk.

Final local heroes where CRIM, who already have a name outside Catalonia and Spain. They had a huge fan base in the audience, the number of people with a CRIM shirt was by the hundred.

Crim (Barna'n'Roll 2018, Poble Espanyol, Barcelona, 14.07.2018)
Crim (Barna’n’Roll 2018, Poble Espanyol, Barcelona, 14.07.2018)

And they have it: Good and mu-sick-ally more complex songs and an impressive voice by the singer. For them it was sing-a-long by the full crowd (sans the foreigners) and plenty of applause. Whilst they sport a particular bad logo they have something, that little difference. I will definitely check out their vinyl output and will get something from them into my collection.

By now we had 4 bands done and it was time to take account: Beer was good, plenty and cheap. Water was plenty and ever cheaper. The locals consumed red wine with ice and … the food was piss-poor. Damn. Outside there are so many good places for perfect food and up there … aarrgghhh. After a short trial we stayed with liquid food which given the heat was anyway better.

And whilst the sun gently came down it was Sick Of It All who had to play a stage that still did not need artificial light, a setting that for me was a wee bit strange.

Sick Of It All (Barna'n'Roll 2018, Poble Espanyol, Barcelona, 14.07.2018)
Sick Of It All (Barna’n’Roll 2018, Poble Espanyol, Barcelona, 14.07.2018)

And with them a different league and a different sound took the place: Much harder, much more paced and – if you ask me – in absolute perfection. On top Lou, as ever, took every effort to engage the audience. For me this was one of the highlights and i do look forward for them to return to Hamburg with their new record, if i got the rumors right then that will be like January 2019.

What was also nice was that they had two little girls (i guess family) up there dancing happily on the huge stage and with these funny kid ear protectors. I loved that view and that sheer joy!

Next Mr. Biafra who was anounced locally as more Dead Kennedy than School of Medicine, something that actually is unfair to his band.

Jello Biafra and the Guantanamo School of Medicine (Barna'n'Roll 2018, Poble Espanyol, Barcelona, 14.07.2018)
Jello Biafra and the Guantanamo School of Medicine (Barna’n’Roll 2018, Poble Espanyol, Barcelona, 14.07.2018)

I am not a huge fan of his recent output but i am a huge fan of his early stuff, be it DK or his collaborations with D.O.A. (was there ever a more epic punk rock song than Full Metal Jackoff?) and with LARD. My judgement thus was reserved and whilst i tried to ignore his (this time short) lectures i did have to recognise that his backing band has some very gifted musicans. And when they play old DK songs and the lead guitar goes into the East Bay Ray type of flittering guitar, allmost surf, then i am sold against my own will!

By now the yard was full but not full capacity, there was still enough room to roam around, get drinks, get to the front and get accross. I have no clue about the capacity but we guessed it was 2.500 folks attending.

Poble Espanyol (Barna'n'Roll 2018, Barcelona, 14.07.2018)
Poble Espanyol (Barna’n’Roll 2018, Barcelona, 14.07.2018)

The audience itself was rather young and what did stand out was that a) whereever you stood there was like 20 young girls with krickel-krackel tattoo’s around you and b) the same amount of people (male and female) with spider net tattoo’s on their elbow. And on top i could not stop noting that about more than 50% of the female contingent in the audience actually sported lipstick. All in all the audience was very friendly and we felt absolutely great to be part of it.

Next on the reason for existence being here: Milo. Stephen. Karl. Bill. And they lured us into the front row so that we can live our groupie life.

Descendents (Barna'n'Roll 2018, Poble Espanyol, Barcelona, 14.07.2018)
Descendents (Barna’n’Roll 2018, Poble Espanyol, Barcelona, 14.07.2018)

The set was about the same as in Hamburg, just a couple of newer songs where removed. What was stunning to see (and hear) was that like 80% of the audience was able to sing-a-long to the songs. And the older the songs, the louder the singing. We felt totaly home in the crowed and we did love every single second.

Descendents - Setlist (Barna'n'Roll, Barcelona, 14.07.2018)
Descendents – Setlist (Barna’n’Roll, Barcelona, 14.07.2018 – from the collection of SillyGirl77)

Fun moment was when Milo decided to leave the stage and realized that there were no steps down … after some head scratching he decided to just jump the 2 meters. And whilst he did so the Descendents Crew rolled their eyes about that unplanned stunt that also got the mic cable into trouble.

Milo in the pit (Barna'n'Roll 2018, Poble Espanyol, Barcelona, 14.07.2018)
Milo in the pit (Barna’n’Roll 2018, Poble Espanyol, Barcelona, 14.07.2018)

Double-fun was to see Milo realizing only after finishing his close contact combat with the audience that missing steps down also mean missing steps up. First he tried to lift himself, then he resortet to the stage rig on the side and with some gentle help of a photographer he made it back up again.

I loved it even more than in Hamburg, as the set – due to time limits of the stage slots – was tighter. And that benefitet the net result. And i am now sure that the next time they will be in Europe i will consider an even wider round trip to stalk them.

With that i was well exhausted though not loaded. Me and me friends strolled back and decided to see Cock Sparrer from the distance and with some final drinks.

Cock Sparrer (Barna'n'Roll 2018, Poble Espanyol, Barcelona, 14.07.2018)
Cock Sparrer (Barna’n’Roll 2018, Poble Espanyol, Barcelona, 14.07.2018)

Cock Sparrer most likely got the loudest sing-a-long (at least on their old hits) and most of the audience moving. What i did like was the option to see them sans idiots and their twin guitar work (i think that remains one of the best around). What i do not like is that they somehow evolved into something that is a wee bit Status Quo like: Same sound, same rythm, same gestures.

Long after 02:00 it came to and end, we left after the first encore from Cock Sparrer and whilst strolling down to our hotel slowley i think i heard another encore – but we were thoroughly done.

It took a loooong sleep and a late breakfast to get us going again, this time for a final sightseeing effort.

Out there in the Parc Güell (c) gehkacken.de)

Parc Güell, designed by Gaudi, is one of the attractions and given it’s hilltop location it also provides grand views and some fresh air. We strolled around, we saw the construction work on the monument and we resorted to a silent corner with some shadow to rest. And we all came to the conclusion that not only Barcelona was a lovely town that warrants a longer stay outside the main summer period but that it also was a great show.

With that in mind we took home and with some delay we arrived happy and tired at home sweet home.

nb: If we would have been super eager we could have joined the warm-up show too but that would have been another show into the wee of the morning. And thus we did give a pass to this opportunity (though Penny Cocks and Violets would have been great assets for the main event too).

… a smile, a warm laughter and heartbreaking songs: Thanks Descendents!

It has been 21 years. Twentyone fucking years. A painful long period without my loveliest band gracing home shores. Damn. Others where lucky and caught them abroad but i am a homie and specifically i’d love to see them at a place like the Markthalle.

It was a great show back then and all of Hamburg seemed to be eager to make it a great show again. And thus it was sold out in record time. When FLAG played the Knust two years ago we chatted with Mr. Egerton and he confirmed they were keen to get back to the Markthalle and sell it out – which indeed they did. He noted that for them it is a cozy club show they love compared to the bigger places they play in the US.

With two support bands it was an early start and Spider from Long Beach had the unfortunate task to play the rather empty hall.

Spider (Markthalle, Hamburg, 10.07.2018 (c) gehkacken.de)
Spider (Markthalle, Hamburg, 10.07.2018 (c) gehkacken.de)

They did not play long and they did not get a lot of applause. For me they were just not to the point – they had elements old LA punk, elements of H/C and then some more. But all crushed into a rather long song. I guess i would need to see them in a smaller setting to make an accurate judgement. I gave them some of my time but then resorted back out for more chats with the endless number of mates around. Check them out for yerself over here.

Next on and competing with France vs. Belgium where A Wilhelm Scream and neither myself nor most of my friends where anywhere near being fond of them.

A Wilhelm Scream (Markthalle, Hamburg, 10.07.2018 (c) gehkacken,de)
A Wilhelm Scream (Markthalle, Hamburg, 10.07.2018 (c) gehkacken,de)

They had the space in front of the stage pretty full and they had a number of fans apparently. And they had a mu-sick-al style that i just do not like. Period. Form your own view but i will forever avoid these soundscapes.

Frank, if i’d have a say (and the money) i would have paired the Descendents with Daikaiju as the sole support band. They would have blasted the room to the max (and their speedy and heavy surf would have been a perfect match).

And once the support was done all of the 1000+ folks attending moved into the main hall, filling it up like it was filled up in the hey-days of Punk (79-83) in good old Hamburg. But before they took the stage they did have a date with my football team in the afternoon and joined the cast of US bands that do cross promotion with the FCSP. I am not necessarily a fan of it but hey – if the band wants it, why not.

Milo and Karl at Millerntor Stadium
Milo and Karl at Millerntor Stadium

The one thing though that i do accept is that is carries a cause and the cause is a shared good one. And the Descendents went quite some length with Who we are (and got some flak in the US of A for it) and they got a message across that also the FCSP and the majority of it’s fans dare to carry – loud and proud. The only item of concern is actually the lackluster artwork on the front, sorry that can’t be the work of Chris Shary (else i need to divorce with him!).

And then they took the stage and they took it with grace, a broad smile and pretty relaxed. And off then went into “Suburban Home” and the Markthalle went apeshit. Lots of dancing, lots of fists and some singing. Yep, the Descendents. Yippie!

Descendents (Markthalle, Hamburg, 10.07.2018) (c) gehkacken.de)

And what did they do? By and large they played songs from all periods and records. They also played one song that i still believe is a hidden gem (and for me has an annotation to a long lost girl that did not turn out to be me love) – here is Clean Sheets (and listen up youth, keep yer sheets clean!):

What did strike me yet again was the broad smiles all four carried on stage with Bill up there behind his drums sporting the biggest one. They are up there, very self aware and self confident and they do know what it take to deliver some of that joy, love and energy back to an eager audience.

Another example is Good Good Things, a song that many passed by on “I don’t want to grow up” and that i believe ranks in the top 10 of the perfect pop songs (next to stuff like Sunstroke from Guns’n’Wankers). And yet again it carries a message for the youth:

So come on down and walk with me, and tell me I'm your man
Let's see if I can get it right with you this time around
I'm not afraid of losing you my little girl
But do you still believe in me like I believe

I taped this song for me love ages ago with a singular intent (and me love later said YES, lucky me). Here it is youth:

Fun fact: At 00:55 on the lower right corner you can see a very famous person entering the picture and singing along. Little did i know that i was actually standing next to a Punk Rock legend from sunny Brasil. As i was tipped of the day after by Paulihno (from Flanders 72) it was their executive producer Davi, who is the capable guy behind recording, mixing and producing every single Flanders 72 record. It is a small town world on the punk rock circuit!

I think the Descendents gave the lot something like 90 minutes, they took on a couple of encores before hitting home with an on stage improvisation that had elements of Catalina and other songs. A really cool jam but most likely way too heavy food for most of the audience.

Just a perfect set in most likely a perfect setting (venue, date etc) for Hamburg. But this time round that ain’t the limit for me. With a gentle push by some of the Punk Rock Hamburg Descendents connoisseurs i took on to see them again, together with SOIA and some others, in sunny Barcelona.

In hindsight i should have just taken the week off, travel to Berlin and Munich and then Barcelona. Or i should have just abandoned all of these plans and travel south for some Ramonescore and Surf at the Punk Rock Raduno in Bergamo (something that some others of the Hamburg lot will do).

But hindsight is a silly thing (not a silly girl) and thus i just stick to what makes my heart warm and me feel good: The Descendents and their œuvre!

And for those who ignored it so far: It is you sole duty to get this movie into your household – you will be proud of the tears you will shed.