… poor attendance and weird scifi punk from 2077: Surprises on all fronts!

I missed the Get! Lost! Fest last year yet again due to overlap with my annual pilgrimage to Odsherred, so the Poor & Weird fest caught my eye early on … but only when i realized that it was Head from Seattle on the rooster i got really exited. Head, one of the coolest Ramonescore bands and with their early records forever a deep love of mine (and i never caught them live before).

The show was supposed to happen on the main stage of the Molotow but due to the tiny pre-sales (37 tickets if i understood correctly) it was moved up into the Sky Bar (and Lene Lovich took the main stage).

Kick off was early with Hamburgs own Küken and they faced more fellow musicians than paying customers i bet. But that did not stop them to deliver a very tight set, almost feeling like a block of metal: solid, no frills and coming at the audience!

Küken (Molotow, Hamburg, 10.11.2018 (c) gehkacken.de)

To me still one of the best things Hamburg has to offer and quite off the beaten track with a unique sound. If only they would get a perfect setting in terms of stage, sound and a packed and eager audience. They deserve it.

They did max 30 mins (but i bet 15 songs or more) and then dropped it.

Next So What and i had no clue what to expect. What took the stage looked like something that would fit much better at the Monkeys, a few roads up west; A bit of skinhead look and plenty of sideburns (actually making them the „sideburns of the night“ winner). I had no clue what to expect but they sounded like this:

And they have a great own cupboard to name their style: HARD GUM!

SO WHAT's debut LP is filled with stompers, hand clappers, and all the riffs that matter. Co-released by Just Add Water Records (USA) and Surfin' Ki (Italy). From the GLAMTASTIC pounding drums, Moogs, and big fuzzy riffs of "Where We Going" and "Why Can't I See You Tonight", to the EQUALS-esque "Don't Come Back" and "What You Said", this album is chock-full of HITS! 

Go and check them out – they are worth it! Only after the event i learned that actually they struggled a bit: They bass player could not travel and was replaced plus their drummer had other touring duties and also had to be replaced – not the best setting but they did show that they have also found their own niche, somewhere next to Guida and more rooted in high energy rock.

So What (Molotow, Hamburg, 10.11.2018 (c) gehkacken.de)

First surprise of the night for me, i will definitely check them out in more detail. And yet again another brick in that wall that is spray painted „you got to see bands to learn new sounds„!

Next Slander Tongue from Berlin Neuköln and with that a familiar face from the Get! Lost! circuit. And for me an almost immediate dislike: It took them way to long to get set and the guitar player on the left to me somehow made the impression that he was pissed off by something and was not happy.

Slander Tongue (Molotow, Hamburg, 10.11.2018 (c) gehkacken.de)

The singer had a neat Billy Idol snear but their mu-sick meant nothing to me. Besides making a not happy impression they did have a Buddha like rhythm section of Bass and Drums that carried them along. I have no clue in reality of the working of that band but i would not have been surprised if they had split right in the stage. Sorry, not my thingy.

When the next group, The Scaners from sunny Lyon in France, prepared the stage it started to look different, namely as they setup some electrical stuff: Next to a keyboard with some effects they also mounted a Theremin, which is coolest thing since time travel was invented. The last band i saw with that was Man or Astro-man? and that means an immediate like!

And once they where done they also took on a unique stage uniform and that made them kings of the night by all counts (of mine, sure). And they sounded like this:

Bingo – i did hit jackpot! Scifi Hardcore! I always liked Scifi Surf but paring the theme with fast paced punk from 2077: Just a grand idea and just puuurfect! And speed they had, the songs on their first LP are about 1:something on average and here they packed like 20something songs into their set.

The Scaners (Molotow, Hamburg, 10.11.2018 (c) gehkacken.de)

Just a great show with all showmanship ingredients (and details) it needs: The drummer counting into the songs like DeeDee Ramone, the bass player putting the power into the songs, the guitar wandering around and making use of the Theremin with his guitar neck and the singer (with a Michael Jackson glove on one hand) providing the fancy sound from effects.

The Scaners (Molotow, Hamburg, 10.11.2018 (c) gehkacken.de)

I did not expect this and i had no clue that such a little niche existed and was actually manned by those boys from France of all places. Now i see a Man or Astro-man? return tour to Germany and them Scaners as support in me brain, i guess i need to start playing lottery to make up the money for that event!

The Scaners got the crowd moving for the first time though it was not more than 50 people (and within that a large contingent from Italy that only ever flew in to see Head). Great Band, great show and indeed a unique kind of fun. You must trust me and check them out, now (or be poor forever)!

And the next surprise followed suit: That Head where a 3 piece by now i knew but when they setup their gear they looked … almost non-descriptive. Evading identification. But it must be Head, as they setup the barest of things: A guitar left, a bass right and the drummer only a bass drum and a snare, paired with two sets of cymbals. No toms whatsoever.

Head (Molotow, Hamburg, 10.11.2018 (c) gehkacken.de)

Soundcheck was done by doing three chords and asking the audience „is it loud enough?„, that’s how i expect it from a band with some routine. And they delivered a set that was somehow also surprising, first see for yerself:

I had a bit of an itch, a nagging in the back of my brain and i could not make out what it was until one of me mates asked me „… we have been to shows now for almost 40 years, we have never seen a band with less charisma haven’t we?“ that i realized what itch was nagging me. In some form it was the essence of bare bone, the core of reduction, the … nevermind, it felt strange. It was strange.

What was not strange was the songs, though they had some hick-ups within them (they seemed not fully oiled). The Italian fans in front of the stage where decently loaded and did not mind, they sang away with joy (as i did silently) and had their fists in the air.

Sure thing i took on to get the vinyl on offer: The 2xLP Version of the discography (somehow not needed as i have all stuff on Evil Clown Records from them) and the new German styled tour EP. Neat.

#recordcollectorsarepretentiousarseholes
#recordcollectorsarepretentiousarseholes

And after Head i was done (and i was not the only one). The day started with a first beer at 12:00 (for a 13:00 home game kick off) and by now had stretched quite far into the night. I decided to stroll home and miss Derv Gordon. Two mates stayed and reported later that it went on to become a bit of party fun with old Equals songs … not sure if it would have been enough for me to sustain further on.

It may have sound like this aka Derv Gordon with So What as backing band:

And that against the original sound from the B/W times (and a funny video from the Bremen Beat Club filmed in the old part of Bremen):

In sum a neat and diverse package that Otis Tours put on the road, it just did hit Hamburg on the wrong day (against shows in every other club in town) and thus with a tiny turnout (and a loss for those putting it on). I can only forever urge people to come out and try something – there may be surprises friends, just like on this Poor & Weird Fest!

… the birdmen cometh: Radio Birdman descent into Hamburg!

Radio Birdman is one those hidden gems where you just wonder why the never broke big (either as in really big or at least on the outskirts of the punk circuit). Founded down under late in 1974 they nurtured a DIY ethos and a mu-sick-al style that had all the ingredients to spur punk (as much as the Saints).

Even being taken on by Sire and being put on a bill with the Ramones for a US tour in 1978 did not help – the band broke down prior to that in the UK after recording their 2nd album (that only ever came out in 1981 when the band did not exist anymore).

But besides of all those oddities it is the unpretentious beauty of the songs that gained them almost cult status with mu-sick-al connoisseurs all over the world. The Hamburg ones (predominantly of age and male) crowded the Molotow and the show was sold out. Anything less would have been an offense anyway.

First on Nixon Now, fronted by the landlord of the Molotow and having sure thing a home game (and a home win at own discretion i guess). They have been around now also for almost 20 years and their style never changed: You get a good dose of Detroit Street Rock – some say Stooges some say MC5.

Nixon Now (Molotow, Hamburg, 22.10.2018 (c) gehkacken.de)

For me they are more outside of my regular sounds – they where class when the two guitar managed to play something like a duel (or challenge / response) and the where near unbearable when the main guitar started wanking and fuzzing. Too much solo-metal for me.

With a swift and efficient changeover by the denim clad Birdman crew the now packed Molotow eagerly awaited them Birdman. First sign was shutdown of background music (a classic rock thingy to spur noise in the crowd) and a singular light style (all red).

And with loads of cheers the Birdman took the stage and stormed into the first songs. At the beginning not all perfect but with energy and an relentless front man (with moves from another time). Actually the way Rob Younger moves behind the mike has a lot of similarity to another old fellow – i was reminded of Leonard from The Dickies!

In the first half of the show everything was flooded in red and everything felt to me somehow … something … can’t name it really but something felt wrong. I don’t remember when the lightning changed to all blue but lets say it was halftime. And with that change Radio Birdman came tighter and even harder (at least to me).

Now we where in the territory that got people exited, a lot of movement came into the crow and even some sing-a-long. This worked neat but i think with the same little trick that many bands use nowadays: All songs got a little bit of kicking and speed.

Radio Birdman (Molotow, Hamburg, 22.10.2018 (c) gehkacken.de)

Whilst the band pushed forward and added hit after hit there was another thing that did strike me: Little interaction with the audience, not even some hints at the songs. Few smiles. That said i have to admit it never felt offensive. And once they took off after the set they came back for encores and sure included their signature song:

And when finishing up they thanked the audience for comming out and put a stick of love for Hamburg into the ground too – playing a sold out show, getting some crowd movements and all of that finished at 22:30 seemed to have given them comfort.

They simply remain where they are: A hard hitting full on high energy rock and roll outfit from down under that made and continues to make things different – even at the risk of getting a different kind of success. Rob Younger in an interview summed it up like this:

We might have a bit of a jaundiced viewpoint about the music industry, speaking for myself, but it was hard to keep people happy in those days. There's more love in the room now. (Rob Younger in an 2018 interview with the Sydney Morning Herald)

At the end i was happy like many others around me. It was good entertainment though slightly outside my music comfort zone. But without constantly testing those boundaries i bet ya i would loose interest in the 2nd best thing in the world: Live music done on small stages.

Note: The best thing on earth damn well knows that she is the best damn thing on earth!

PS: And for those who love Radio Birdman this movie is a definite must … and don’t forget to score the exclusive directors  box!

… kick-off at 20:15 should be the norm: Hamburgs finest with an early show and a failed Saturday wish!

It does not need to be bands from far to make them kids happy, sometimes it can also be some of our towns finest to get people out and into it. What was supposed to be Jam Today and Razors had to be changed to Spitfire Stevens and Razors, as Lui of Jam Today fame had to work abroad and could not make it.

And those Spitfires not only had to appear they also had to appear pretty early, 20:15 was supposed to kick-off time on stage. I thought of this as a perfect Friday as it meant to be able to finish early, get home early, get up early on Saturday and be done with weekend shopping with some good time to prepare for the home game of the magical FC (with an equally early 13:00 kick off, implying to be in the pub opposite the ground at 12:00).

But it was not only early for the Spitfires, it was also somehow early for a good sound. The drums felt a wee bit too loud (actually throughout the show) and for the first couple of songs everything sounded disjointed.

Spitfire Stevens (Molotow, Hamburg, 15.09.2017) (c) gehkacken.de)

But the more they played, the better they sounded and the better they got together. First it was only the faster songs that sounded great – later it was also the slower parts that created not only sound but also magic. And whilst they got into the groove they also got great appreciation from the audience, though from the stage they where rather silent and nimble.

But a great set nevertheless and i am sure it is not far that we will see underwear being thrown onto the stage and signs „i want a child from you“ are held up. Stars to come, trust my words.

And against that almost headlining the Razors had to claim the stage (and battle the sonic drums) and win back the audience. And winning back they did, digging deep into their almost 40 years of existence and into songs that made not only them famous but the times when they where young.

That love was, is and always will be mutual for the Hamburg lot and that love for punk rock has driven them throughout the years, any troubles and as driven them to subtle but steady change their sound into what is now a mighty force with an up2date sound and not attempting to bridge something from Hamburg 1979 into today.

Razors (Molotow, Hamburg, 15.09.2017) (c) gehkacken.de)

Even one of my loveliest singles ever they transformed into something meaningful and sounding quite recent. For me it remains one of the greatest sing-a-long hits from Hamburg ever.

So what is it that makes the Razors still hitting it with so much force? My wild guess is that for all of them it ain’t a job and it ain’t a career but for all of them it is the love for the music. That simple.

Razors (Molotow, Hamburg, 15.09.2017) (c) gehkacken.de)

And that love for the mu-sick makes allows them not to bother about cover songs but just take them and Razor-fy them big time. So in best tradition they take on not only „Because you’re young“ from Cock Sparrer but also „YNWA“ and blend it into a killer closing of the set (despite some minor out of tune guitar).

Whilst Klaus wished everybody a great dancing night and 3 points tomorrow it was the start of all my weekend plans to go astray:

I managed to get home early, i managed to get weekend shopping done early and then stupid me managed to get an LBP (or Lumbago) whilst trying to lift a crate of beer from the trunk of the car. So instead seeing the mighty FC at home i was tied to the sofa and painkillers (and my old mate Christian could take along someone on my season ticket).

And those in the stadium? They had to resort to liquid painkillers, as the our team managed to be down 0:4 at half time and there was not much change in the 2nd half. As someone put it „0:4 equals Beer“ (it rhymes perfectly if you mix German with English).

So, in hindsight, the only good thing this weekend was … them Spitfires and them Razors and the fact that me love if a perfect doctor and nurse. Lovely!