… DOWNSTROKES galore: The triumphant return of the Clowns!

I was working in sunny Kyiv during the week but made it clear to my boss that i had to be home in time on Thursday, as the mighty Clowns would be back in town (he had no clue what i was talking about). Still, a risky undertaking, as only indirect flights would get me back and Lufthansa these days is not 100% trustworthy to be one time, always.

I made it just about, arriving at the Hafenklang only to be taunted to not have ticket #1 (an anal fixation of my humble self) and to the sound of the support already playing.

Playing towards a well filled but not packed house where The Gotobeds from Pittsburgh, PA from the US of A. 4 guys and loads of … Indie sounds rather than hardcore punk. Wild guitars and stomping rhythms.

The Gotobeds  (Hafenklang, Hamburg, 14.11.2019)

In good moments they created a neat swirl of guitar work, in rather dull moments it was typical (and to my dumb ears boring) indie rock sound – something that i tend to avoid. But i did not leave for chats and beer outside, as they at least had some good mu-sick-al moments. But not my thingy and paired with the Clowns maybe a shot too wide.

After a swift makeover it was then time for the Clowns, all the way from Down Under, to take the stage:

Bang! High energy rock’n’roll i’d say in a very modern setup. And little space for boring sounds as much as there was little space to gather your breath. They took off exactly where they left it back in August last year, on a hot and sweaty night at the Hafenklang.

Clowns (Hafenklang, Hamburg, 14.11.2019)

I am not sure about how many people they did draw this time round but they would not care – they seem to dig Hamburg and the Hafenklang and they gave the impression they love playing here. They fucked up the tour plan though, once done on stage they would have to pack up and drive to Belgium to catch the early ferry to England, they had to achieve a load-in time in London at 15:00 next day.

Hanny made a point of the fact that this would mean her missing breakfast, the most important meal of the day. She thus declared the audience to be her breakfast already tonight, something that was echoed by the lot…

Yep, thats full on fun right down from the stage into the audience. Someone in the know (as a guitar player) after the show made a point of how great the endless barrage of downstrokes was. Others just expressed pure appreciation of having been bulldozed completely.

Clowns (Hafenklang, Hamburg, 14.11.2019)

For me it was just outright fun, after a long work week abroad it injected the right amount of energy back into my body. Recharging that was and for me that works best with #thereaintnuthinbetterthanlivemusic! And just for me they finished off their set with an encore, giving me (and nobody else for sure) my loveliest song:

I’VE WOKEN UP IN GUTTER
TURNING SHADES
OF YELLOW, BLACK AND BLUE
THE ONLY THING KEEPING MYSELF ALIVE
IS A MEMORY OF YOU
TAKE THIS IOU
PROMISE THAT I’LL DO
A LITTLE BETTER NEXT TIME

I’VE GOT MY SELF IN A DOWNWARD SPIRAL
AND THERE’S NOTHING YOU CAN DO
THE ONLY SUBSTANCE IN YOUR LIFE
IS A BIT OF SUBSTANCE OF ABUSE
SELF DIAGNOSING
SELF PRESCRIPTING
SELF DESTRUCTING
PICKLE

from Lucid Again, released May 12, 2017
(c) all rights reserved

Thats „Pickle“ if you are not in sync with their mu-sick-al output and it sums them Clowns up like no other song. I am happy to repeat my judgement from last year:

Oh boy, that got everything in the mix – literally. And that is why i got a ticket for them in the first place: They throw hardcore, trash, metal, psychedelic guitars and some scent of pop into a happy sunny mix and push it down from the stage with relentless energy.

Nuthin to add, just the complaint that many of the regulars going to shows with me did let this opportunity pass by – i don’t understand why. Is it the amount of hair on stage? Is the fact that they are – without fitting really – on Fat Wreck? Or is the metal connection on them fending you off? Trust me – they are just class and are a guarantee for a powerful evening.

I hope they did catch the ferry (in fact by the date writing this i know it), i did catch a free ride to my new home in the suburbs with a mate who already resides there.

… the invisible naked man appears: It’s Yard Bomb record release party!

The record has been in circulation for a while though the official release was only end of September. As such the record release party was set for 02.10., which meant next day would be a public holiday and thus nobody should have had an excuse for not showing up.

RECORD RELEASE DAY!
RECORD RELEASE DAY!

In the end downstairs at the Hafenklang turned out as a space too large for the party, above beauty was celebrated by less than 100 people i guess, a bit of a downturn.

First on Last Line Of Defense, who jumped in for Suck who could not make it due to their singer being ill. It was an easy and obvious choice, as they share home and people with Yard Bomb.

Last Line Of Defense (Hafenklang, Hamburg, 02.10.2019)

On average i am not a big fan of their songs, too often they sound just odd to my ears without being able to pin-point exactly what offends me. The best moment came at the end when they grabbed a 2nd singer from their circle of friends and gave us what i believe was a great cover version … check it your for yerself:

As ever don’t get offended by my mu-sick-al tastes and receptors, check them out on your own. For me not the best start into the proceedings.

Next on the Razors, who a couple of days ago had just played on the river Elbe on the MS Hedi, now back on-shore and a stone throw away from the Elbe. They had been invited specifically for this occasion by Yard Bomb and sure wanted to give cudos to their great seminal effort of a first record release.

Razors (Hafenklang, Hamburg, 02.10.2019)

For the Razors it was a bit of a 40 year comeback, their first 7″ (out in October 1979) was recorded at the old Hafenklang Studios, right here at this location. Some say it was the first DIY Punk 7″  by a German band – some doubt it. I am not sure about the statement but that does not matter – here is  „Madhouse Meeting“ from their 1982 12″ on Konneckschen.

They had shorted and speeded up their set and almost matched up with the so much younger Hardcore bands. For the encore, as ever „Because you’re young“ they got members of the Hamburg City Punk Rock Singers on stage and gave a nice sing-a-long finish.

Razors with Choir  (Hafenklang, Hamburg, 02.10.2019)

Next stop for the Razors will be „Burn down the Baum 13.0“ on 30.12.2019 at the Knust, with Sixteen Again (finest Buzzcocks covers from Hamburg) and Knock Off (finest Oi! from London).

Then it was time for Yard Bomb and what i thought another speedy run down of their songs (they can play 14 songs in 21 minutes). But this time round it was a bit more mellow, they took more time to … twist again:

For me they are the hottest shit currently, specifically in that little genre of CA Hardcore 1980s build. Perfect speed, great and very capable guitar work, solid back line and a singer so full of energy. Relentless energy.

Yard Bomb  (Hafenklang, Hamburg, 02.10.2019)

For this occasion they even re-worked their hit „Turning up Milhouse“ into a longer version with a a groovy extra minute, see yerself…

They got a good reception but given that it was only like 1/3 packed it was not bodies flying everywhere and people jumping up and down. I guess upstairs that would have been a much easier thing and, in hindsight, a better place for the party.

Yard Bomb  (Hafenklang, Hamburg, 02.10.2019)

They also played some covers as encores and got their old drummer back up for that occasion. And with that encore even the slowest brain would realize where they pull the mu-sick-al ideas from.

Great set to celebrate a great record. Let’s hope they put some touring behind it in order to sell it off quickly. They deserve to be seen so much wider than just Wedel or Hamburg, can someone please put them into a bus to support a larger US band?

The invisible naked man watching Yard Bomb ( pic by Fab)
The invisible naked man watching Yard Bomb ( pic by Fab)

But Yard Bomb did not finish off the party, late in the night we got something extra. Rolf, who has some Finland connections, was to surprise the lot with some Finish Country Death Metal Banjo or whatever mu-sick-al cupboard you would like to pass onto them.

They actually claim: „Dark Bottle is doombilly, psych-country, alt-punk and krautstoner at the same time.“ There you go!

The „crowd“ by now was a mere 30 people but they all enjoyed the surprise of something completely different. Sure it was late and sure the day off next day had lured some folks into booze – and on booze this was indeed a fun thing to watch. And that fun the audience provided back to the stage.

Dark Bottle  (Hafenklang, Hamburg, 02.10.2019)

But Dark Bottle (from sunny Tampereen kaupunki) had a wee bit more: The songs had meanings and besides the uptempo stuff it also has surprisingly good lyrics. Go and check them out, it may be worth it!

Great and late evening, though not really a record release party per se. It missed the feeling of „packed“ and „everybody going nuts“ but as said the Yard Bomb 12″ gets that across for a start. Go and score it! Now!

… this is Moving Targets not Reeperbahn Festival!

The triumphant return of the Moving Targets last year at the Hafenklang was a wee bit a short show for me, so i was eager this year to get exposed to a full set of blistering guitars and smiling bass players. Whilst i was fully committed, the mu-sick-al connoisseurs of Hamburg did somehow let them down. The parallel Reeperbahn Festival with it’s thousands of shows did suck up audience, at the end i guess a mere 80 people came down to see them.

They where paired with a north eastern package travelling through Europe: Cockbox from sunny Helsingin kaupunki and Rat’s Eyes from dark Mосква crossed their path and thus provided support.

Cockbox had the pain to start early and in front of almost no folks, though they provided quite interesting visuals: A rather heavy drummer with a strange pullover, a silent bass with all the 80 Punk insignia and a small and rather fully styled girl on guitar.

Cockbox (Hafenklang, Hamburg, 19.09.2019 (c) gehkacken.de)

They had some twang but did not offer a compelling proposition. On top the time it took to fix a dislocated string took the energy out of the audience somehow, specifically as the bass player was not really an entertainer that could keep folks away from the bar.

Worst moment was when the girl did an Iggy crawl – that felt just like a poor replay of visuals rather then genuine expression of herself and the mu-sick.  Still, i would give them a 2nd chance in the hope they just had sorta teething problems on stage – their Demo sounds so much better. En koskaan päästäisi suomea alas!

Next Rat’s Eyes from Moscow and they took things into a more serious and slick direction: In your face hardcore with some nice influences from traditional Russian army music (as one in the audience joked).

Rat's Eyes (Hafenklang, Hamburg, 19.09.2019 (c) gehkacken.de)

I definitely did like that more, they also lured more people to the stage including the bass player of the Moving Targets. Their drummer literally did beat up the drum set (and specifically the cymbals), every hit was with full energy and anger – stunning. The guitar looked a bit odd from the look but provided some great shredding.

Check out their releases or just listen into this snippet:

They got the audience to request not only one but two encores, something i hinted to the Moving Targets standing next to me to be the bar that they need to pass and Kenny tongue in check answered that they’ll beat that and will provide us with even more. Plus he would reimburse me personally if i would not love it.

I told Kenny that he could save his cash, i was rather expecting the best. They kicked off quick, without too much fuzz and surprised myself and quite a number of people with energy and … a rather poor sound. There was a lack of balance between back line (bass and drums) and guitar and vocals.

Even when moving around it did not really get better, so i guess it must have been the mix. Over time it gently got better but at least one trusted friend was offended so much that he did leave early.

What was surprising to me was that they nicely speeded up things and even ventured out into 1:13 hardcore like bursts:

Given that the sound was not yet perfect there was some reservation at the start but over time and whilst the sound got better people got more enthusiastic.

Moving Targets (Hafenklang, Hamburg, 19.09.2019 (c) gehkacken.de)

And it is anyway fun to see them: Sturdy and heavy drumming, a bass player that smiles away all the time (as he had fallen into a crate of Zaubertrank as a youngster in Augsburg, where he did grow up), jumping up and down full of energy and Kenny providing the swirling guitar plus the distinct vocals.

Once they where done with the set after about an hour they provided the promised extra (with some extra hired in). Their german merch guy was enlisted and with him they set out as a 4 piece doing some covers.

And it sounded like this:

BY now the sound was almost there and the audience did get going. Specifically when they did play „Youth of America“ from the Wipers, a song that just lends itself to be covered by Kenny, as it has plenty of that guitar swirl.

Moving Targets (Hafenklang, Hamburg, 19.09.2019 (c) gehkacken.de)

I did not count but they did like 4 extras (thus beating the bar) and finished off late (and after midnight) with something special just rehearsed once on the day before.

That was a matching finish, a band that just had great fun playing and getting into it. They audience did cheer them big time but rather quickly left. Some, including myself, got the new record and some of the other vinyl, hopefully that helps them to fuel the van (or repay customer not loving it).

As they are a very accessible band they mingled with the lot after the show and showed genuine interest in how people liked it and to discuss life, music (me mate Thomas and i praised and sicussed Candian punk to the two Canadians) and the world as such. We did not discuss fucking the singer of the Sleaford Mods backstage though at one stage of the talks it was mentioned too in passing by one lovely female attendant (over just another beer).

The Hafenklang had to expel us at almost 02:00 after plenty of beers and i had the fun to stroll uphill to home with the two Canadians, who where up for some food and fun on the Reeperbahn. I left them at the capable hands of a mate for final directions as i had to work on Friday.

I can only urge the Moving Targets to avoid the Reeperbahn festival next year, i trust Hamburg will give them even a wee bit more (and yes i would believe a slightly different pairing would also work better).

In addition check out Kenny Chambers Music, there is a shitload of stunning stuff to explore!

And those options below?

Don’t let them go by – #thereaintnuthinbetterthanlivemusic