…3 bands with 9 artists meet 14 consumers – that’s SCI-FI math to work out!

First off, i hope it wasn’t me! I sincerely hope that me was not the jinx, as i have been pestering me mate at the Knust for ages to put more Surf onto the rooster and i specifically named The Razorblades as a great addition for such an event. I am sure though that i also asked also for some other highlights, if my memory serves me well it was like Phantom Surfers, Huevos RancherosSatan’s Pilgrims, The Vulcanos and sure Man or Astro-Man? that i was suggesting.

So much to my fright i was hit with a particular empty Knust on a cold Friday evening and right away i had the feeling this will be an empty show. When i paid i think i was paying guest number four.

... it felt empty early on at the Knust!
… it felt empty early on at the Knust!

And it stayed like that, the Knust has a capacity of 450 if it stretches and i think barely 14 people paid and at max there where like 30something people in front of the big stage. So it was for Los Apollos from Berlin to kick it off against a large nothing.

Los Apollos (Knust, Hamburg, 17.11.2017 (c) gehkacken.de 2017)
Los Apollos (Knust, Hamburg, 17.11.2017 (c) gehkacken.de 2017)

They do traditional Surf i’d say (and i am far from an expert) and at times the guitar sound reminded me of Mark Broadie & The Beaver Patrol. They where relaxed and grooved themselves into it, despite the empty void in front of them.

Yes, i did dig them but in that large setting on that large stage it sure just did not work out. The one fun thing though was that the empty hall (paired with the excellent PA) created a perfect echo chamber for the guitar reverb to gain on. So something bad turned into a bonus – you always got to see the positive things in life!

Next on The Splashdowns from Hamburg and they where easy to make out: They are Sci-Fi Astro-Surf. And that not only because they had the story of the flight to the moon on the backdrop behind the stage as a mix of animation and real movie snipets but they also gave away some great astro infos between the songs.

The Splashdowns (Knust, Hamburg, 17.11.2017 (c) gehkacken.de 2017)
The Splashdowns (Knust, Hamburg, 17.11.2017 (c) gehkacken.de 2017)

They had a wee bit more twang and they had a different kind of charm in their songs. And they had a guitar player who kept standing on his heels and moving around on them – with a strange grin on the face. And, as all other bands of the evening, they had a stage uniform, something that i forever dig.

They had by far the most people in front of the stage, sure thing as they are local plus mathematically it will always work out like that if you play in the middle. The most though is an euphemism, as it was still less than 10% of the capacity. Bugger.

And that finally got us The Razorblades and they kicked off like that (following a short intro song):

I am actually sold on them, especially when they venture into “hard & fast” territory and i have to admit that i am blown away by the sounds that Rob Razorblade get’s out of his guitar. And the speed by which he moves from one sound to the other – just stunning.

The Razorblades (knust, Hamburg, 17.11.2017) (c) gehkacken.de)

They had to face a declining audience and they had to play every entertainment trick to get remaining people further to the front. Still, whilst all the effort, they did not get a front row together for the set. But i think they loved the big stage for being able to move around a lot and they did also benefit from the empty hall in terms of the acoustics. Loose some, win some – eh?

And they finished their set with speed and a nod off to where the sun is warm, the water is cold and the surf is up:

And in the end i think they even sold a T-Shirt and a record, poor fellas. I’d love to see them as support for say Descendents. Or play the Hafengeburtstag in bright sunshine. But never again lure them to Hamburg on a cold November Friday please!

So something did not work out, if i created a share of that misery then i am so sorry – i was obviously completely wrong in assuming that Hamburg would be ready for some reverb and some surf.  Damn was i wrong!

Something was not right with the audience count!
Something was not right with the audience count!

… this is Hamburg, not G20! FCK G20!

Oh boy, what a fucking weekend. Riots, peaceful G20 protest, 24×7 helicopter terror and a 20.000 strong police force under odd management to protect a bunch of people most inhabitants did not want to have in town in the first place.

Next to the chaos during the days it was also party, mu-sick and fun in the night.

First on upstairs at the Hafenklang was Christianes Birthday Bash, a party that was fuelled by two live acts. And a party that provided the charming bass player of Hamburgs rock legends GERD with plenty of gifts and that emitted loads of love.

Henry Cluney (Hafenklang, Goldener Salon, Hamburg, 08.07.2017) (c) gehkacken.de)

Surprise guest number one was Henry Cluney of Stiff Little Fingers fame who gave one of his acoustic solo shows – ie. strumming great sing-a-long songs (and sing-a-long the party people did with loud voices) and throwing in some nice jokes. And as a lot of the great sing-a-long hits of SLF where pinned in the late 70 and early 80s under the sound of helicopter rotors during “the troubles” he must have felt home in Hamburg that weekend!

And thus here is one of these signature songs, try yerself:

He joined up to get a job
And show he wasn't scared
Swapped boy scout hat for army cap
He thought he'd be prepared
At the age of 17 he was forced to choose
Now at the age of 21 he's in Catch 22

He joined up for just three years
It seemed a small amount
But they didn't tell him
That the first two didn't count
At the age of 17 how was he to know
That at the age of 21 he'd still have one to go?

Written by Ogilvie/Fingers

Listen up youth:

That was great stuff with no question on street credibility. He was there, we not! What did stun people too was his guitar which was largely … without a body. Someone suggest it is like one of the folding bikes to enable Henry to fly hand luggage only and that it actually can fold it into a small bag. I guess that one is true. Great stuff and flying start into party and booze!

To take the lot further any Undertones, Descendents or Ramones would have suited, Christiane choose the Melones and thus choose Tommy, DeeDee, Johnny and Joey.

Someone very sceptical in the crowd noted “but they are wearin’ fuckin’ wigs” but he did not dare to test it. It was simply full on Ramones blasting from the stage and light years better than what the Hamburg Ramönes provided 6 weeks back on the same stage.

Melones (Hafenklang, Goldener Salon, Hamburg, 08.07.2017) (c) gehkacken.de)

And it was all in style – though my critical eye noted that two minor details where handled slightly wrong: The joint “forward – backward” movements of Johnny and DeeDee where not copied correctly and not executed to the required level of precission and Tommy did drum in a slightly different style. But hey, who am i to complain?

And that happy family then took the party to the next level with DJ Starry Eyes providing the dance muzak. The (cheap) booze plus the will to give Christiane a great night and leave outside the non-sense happening on the streets did drive them kids into extra laps and overtime. I was home late and knackered (and me love noted i stink of booze next morning), others had similar stories – what a great birthday bash!

So with some hangover me and others on Sunday eagerly prepared for the return of Rocket From The Crypt. A band that in 1996 and 1997 took us all by surprise and – i won’t stop mentioning it – gave us the future of rock’n’roll. At their 2nd show at the Logo me and me mates all got us RFTC bowling shirts and we wore them until they faded away. I kept mine in good condition so i could – as a first in my life – void golden rule not to wear a shirt of the band that is playing.

Speedo was somehow irritated at the start of the show, as he did remember they played the Knust in 1996 but could not fit the visual in front of his stage with old pictures in his head (no surprise, the old Knust was a cellar in a different part of town and so much smaller).

And like any great showman he took time to direct the lights to his liking:

And once the light was set and the amps on full steam ahead they kicked into the show like this:

Rocket From The Fucking Crypt are back and they are back for good. And better. And it feels like they have not been away (and, technically speaking, they haven’t – they just had few shows over the years due to the endless amount of side projects).

The Knust was well filled (but sure not sold out) and the audience took RFTC straight into their arms (and hearts). A lot of people where sure thing leaning to the older side but that would only ever change if RFTC release something new and return to the touring life – something that i do not anticipate in real.

For me it was just great – it felt like they never actually disappeared. Me mate Frosch, most likely hardcore as a fan, did travel over the years to the rare RFTC shows around the world and not only kept spreading the message but also enlarging his RFTC tattoo (a pity that it no longer gets you free admittance).

Rocket From The Crypt (Knust, Hamburg, 09.07.2017) (c) gehkacken.de)

They where so much together and so well oiled, it was stunning. The only item that was odd was that the stage of the Knust is big but not that wide, so the horn section somehow was placed to the backside (and mostly out of view for my preferred show position on the left). But all of that was made up by the full visual of the glittery backdrop and the stage dresses: A rock’n’roll show like a rock’n’roll show should be – with a capital S for show.

And by now RFTC have accustomed to the European demand for encores, so they stroll off the stage, come back on and mock fans up about that artificial awol. I’d say it is always the bands choice – if they have more to give or a surprise then by all means go for it. If they are done, then be done.

So RFTC gave us the extra, the bonus, the encore:

Stunning. Just stunning. And just perfect. I do know why i have so many records of them (though within that, there are some songs that are … err … let’s agree on complicated) and i do love them. And that love has just been renewed. And i do understand why me mate Frosch travels to all German shows to see them over and over again – there is something in it!

... a happy Frosch! ( (c) gehkacken.de 2017)
… a happy Frosch! ( (c) gehkacken.de 2017)

And what did that G20 long weekend now provide? Fuck nothing! Lack of proper policing, lack of sympathy for them cops, lack of sympathy for them riot-hipsters and lack of sympathy for them politicians. But all love and sympathy for those throwing great parties for friends, those who book great bands and sure those bands who go on stage and just deliver (even after a long drive from Paris to Hamburg, a drive that included 5 hours of traffic jam).

And sure thing for those who got out on the street and said NO G20 and FCK G20.

And if you like reading with a backdrop of helicopter rotors and them troubles – why not try a book by Adrian McKinty?

… 30 years sweat aged hardcore beef: Sick Of It All don’t boot their fans off the stage (they butt them off)!

Now the start into the evening was … suboptimal. FCSP loosing at home and me mate Dirk, who runs booking at the Knust, confirmed that with two support bands SOIA will be hitting stage at 22:30 sharp, as such there was little hope to catch The Yum-Yums (who graced the Monkeys over in All-to-nah) as Sam confirmed they will hit stage over there in the same time frame.

Why can’t my favorite clubs not sync stage times how me, myself and I need it? Damn!

Die Heart (Knust, Hamburg 29.04.2016 (c) gehkacken.de)
Die Heart (Knust, Hamburg 29.04.2016 (c) gehkacken.de)

First on Die Heart from Hamburg and from the start i was not able to relate to their sound. Too much grooowling, too much bam-bam. Sorry, not my thingy.

Next on Gone to Waste from Dortmund. And they kicked off like this:

Arrgghhh – in my world this is posing in an offending way. And metal core that i wholeheartedly dislike. From first chord to last. Where Die Heart at least where within city limits (mu-sick-aly) Gone to Waste where suburban. Boy did they suck to me (and those around me actually). That said, quite a number of folks in the audience seemed to take a rather positive look on them. Not my thing, by some length of rope!

Gone to Waste (Knust, Hamburg 29.04.2016 (c) gehkacken.de)
Gone to Waste (Knust, Hamburg 29.04.2016 (c) gehkacken.de)

Puh, that (paired with the home loss of the FCSP) now did set a low mark for what was to come next. Sick Of It All, 30 years and going strong. I do not know how many times they played Hamburg but i think i saw them now for like the 11th time? Really sad that i do not run a show diary!

And SOIA took the stage, the Knust and the audience like this:

Let’s celebrate that we don’t give a fuck! You could feel that they came off a two week break in touring and had re-energized. To the maximum! From the first song all the way throughout the set they where just like i have them in my head for such a long time: Humble, nimble, full of energy and unpretentious. Or, in more simple terms, just class. NYHC Masterclass!

Sick Of It All (Knust, Hamburg 29.04.2016 (c) gehkacken.de)
Sick Of It All (Knust, Hamburg 29.04.2016 (c) gehkacken.de)

And following that start me and me mates did shelf all ideas of somehow leaving early and hoping over to The Yum-Yums (who would have deserved our presence). But we smelled we were up the the best Sick Of It All show in quite some time (the last 2nd best was down under the Große Freiheit, on a lonely Thursday evening, with only 150 people attending) and we were not disappointed. Not the slightest.

Yep – Hit songs paired with age old shit from the beginning. By now we definitely knew we would be up to something special: Hit after hit and from any period of the bands vast Œuvre. Oh boy – what a joy!

And that was handsome Lou commandeering the audience and guess what – everybody followed without thinking. The sold out Knust was full of eager fans and eager “oldschool” fans.  At least when Lou asked only one was brave enough to hold up his hand and state “this is my first SOIA show“. Ups – where have you been lately my friend?

Sick Of It All (Knust Hamburg, 29.04.2016) (c) gehkacken.de)

By the pace of it we also by now knew we where up to a new record, at the end we though the tallied some 40 songs they played (though it might be memory and enthusiasm played a trick on us there). But it was just the perfect show. Gosh, that i’d ever say that…what have SOIA put into my drink?

In the underground, integrity lies within
In the underground, the image doesn't mean a thing
When the substance lack, plain for all to see
If the deal is right then respect is where it should be
It should be, it should be, it should be, right

There ain’t no lack of hits with Sick Of It All and hell yeah, most of them are sung full throttle by the audience. Ain’t live shows exactly for that?

Brother, I'll always look out for you
If I feel it back
Sister, we'll brave the outside world
Off the beaten track

When it's us vs. them
You can always count on me
When it's us vs. them
It's a global unity

Open the extended family
The family is growing fast
Friendship will transcend the borders
The world is shrinking fast

They have co-defined a genre and they have authored the right behaviors and they keep putting them forward to the troops. Though at the show they might preach to converted it is something to be done. Continuously. And as “us all” does not have the time to do it there are other people who get funded by us to do it. Guess who that is?

It is not everyday that you see a band making that statement (and that ain’t the ill-fated ska joke) on stage but here it is all so true. So thanks already Lou, Pete, Craig and Armand. My money and support you will always have, also for the next 30 years (then i am well over 80 and not sure if i can still blast SOIA in the retirement home, let’s hope the best).

Was that all? No, that ain’t all! Thanks to some bloke in the audience (Craig suggest he was the obvious drunken polish guy) we where also up for something that will put the Mighty Mighty BossTones (and their enlist Ben Carr) at shame most likely: The official “GoGo Night at Knust, Edition 2016” was on:

Already earlier that guy graced the stage with some dancing and pony riding, now he went full throttle. And where the stage hand from the Sick Of It All crew did not succeed (and got a bad bad middle finger though at least not licked on) Hamburg’s own Hardcore Osteopath came to rescue and butted the guy off stage and into a nice flight home. Well done Thomas, well done. Trust you gave the guy some stretches afterwards. We laughed our ass off!

And that was Sick Of It All, 30 years anniversary, in Hamburg. A masterclass in NYHC – no more, no less. In a perfect setting. Thanks Dirk for making it happen, making me forget the home loss and not needing to hurry over to The Yum-Yums (who would have deserved it and – by what i heard – also gave a great show).

Live mu-sick. Love it!