… it was a love thing: Knock Off and Alternate Action!

I guess it was the headliner that lured folks on a rather warm Wednesday to the Monkeys, against competition from the Guitar Gangsters at the Hafenklang. Alternate Action are fronted by Greg of Bishops Green fame and thus people knew they would get an in yer face show.

For myself i have to admit that i was rather attracted by what would be the first (and early – some people missed them) band on stage: Knock Off from that island yonder (that want’s to split away but can’t decide on how).

They planted themselves into my ears (and me heart) with this beauty:

Whenever i hear this song there are tears in my eyes as it reminds me of a friend who’s heart gave way too – the first time he recovered, the 2nd time he lost the battle. He is gravely missed and he remains in our collective memory – so to him you shall sing-a-long…

you get one life, so fucking live it!

i nearly died...
it opened up my eyes
i though i was indestructible

but i was wrong
i fucked it up again
i thought it was the end
but i got another go

(2x)
don't get me wrong
this ain't no love song
i fucked it up
i broke my fucking heart

well now i am back
i am stronger than before
and so its time to live not just exist

to raise the glass
to those who passed
and make the most of what we all got left

(2x)
don't get me wrong
this ain't no love song
i fucked it up
i broke my fucking heart

(2X)
don't get me wrong
this ain't no love song
i fucked it up
i broke my fucking heart

(4x)
this ain't no love song

But it ain’t all sad, whilst enjoying their set i got the good news that they shall return later this year to Hamburg, onto a bigger stage and a larger audience – i am looking forward to that year end fun eagerly now!

They pride themselves „as an onslaught of energy, with hard and fast songs alongside anthems with stick in your head choruses.“ and indeed that is what these three lads deliver.

Knock Off (Monkeys Music Club, Hamburg, 17.04.2019 (c) gehkacken.de)

Whilst lightning or showcasing was not their thing it became very apparent that what sounds like simple songs from the outside is rather clustered all over with brilliant songwriting. Just listen carefully, there are some real gem chords, guitar work and singing.

Knock Off - Set List (Monkeys Music Club, Hamburg, 17.04.2019)
Knock Off – Set List (Monkeys Music Club, Hamburg, 17.04.2019)

Good news was my fave song came early and it sounded like this:

Great stuff, delivered unpretentious but unfortunately to a much too low number of people in front of the stage (due to the rather early start). I was there but some mates came later and missed it.  Bad luck my friends, you missed a great set.

And according to my own rules (set to limit the extend of my record collection) of only buying vinyl once a band has persuaded me on stage i got Knock Off Vinyl and gear after the show. Try them yerself mate – you will not be disappointed!

Talking about disappointment provides a neat roll forward to the next band taking the stage: Aggressive from the sunny Ruhrpott. 5 distinct different folks on stage …

Aggressive (Monkeys Music Club, Hamburg, 17.04.2019 (c) gehkacken.de)

…. and just not getting me. Neither sound nor presentation. One of me mates noted „… a bit early to see the worst band 2019 already in April“ but i take that is an unfair comment. I do respect anyone who get’s up there and performs but if it does not work for me it just does not work.

... when the band does not work for me, black gold always works!
… when the band does not work for me, black gold always works!

By now the Monkeys was well filled for a Wednesday and people eagerly awaited Alternate Action. Formed a while ago (i think 2005) and with a more than 10 year hiatus they left behind only a small output. Still they hold still a bit of a status  most likely because they where and are fronted by Greg, who went to fame with The Lancasters and Bishops Green.

Alternate Action (Monkeys Music Club, Hamburg, 17.04.2019 (c) gehkacken.de)

That bass player looked familiar, it took some time for me to realize that he also takes duties with the Suede Razors. Just like Knock Off unpretentious stuff with Greg putting the needed bit of danger, anger and starring in.

How did it sound? It sounded like this:

I have none of their vinyl and only knew a limited number of songs but all in all they did surprise me. Sure the vocals stand out but the rest is also pure enjoyment: Some great hooks, some breaks and a sturdy backline.

Alternate Action (Monkeys Music Club, Hamburg, 17.04.2019 (c) gehkacken.de)

Alternate Action had the space in front of the stage packed and the (rather) male contingent dancing. Loads of people had some silent smiles on their face, others did sing-a-long loud. I think Hamburg indeed was sold on Alternate Action and i am damn sure that we will see a triumphant return in the near future.

If i understood it right this setup of Alternate Action will hit the studio next and will surprise us with a new record. If you look for the old stuff then take up the „Thin Line“ LP, a collection of old stuff and unreleased beauties.

3 bands, lot’s of good chats, one hard memory and all-in-all a worthwhile Wednesday at one of my favorite places. Life is good to me and #thereaintnuthingbetterthanlivemusic so thanks to those who make it happen!

… all the way from San Diego 1976 to Hamburg 2019 (to meet 20odd fans)

The Zeros caught my eye early, their „Hungry/Radio Fun“ 7″ on Small Wonder Records made it as early as 1980 into my collection. Only later i realized that since 1976 there was another band from sunny California respectively Chula Vista with the same name and an ever better sound.

Since then and because their output was a mere 3 singles until 1980 i was eager to get more. It took until 1990 that Greg Sage released a compilation on Bomp! that provided the full spread of their early output.

How cool and how ahead of times these Mexican Ramones (an early odd label tucked upon them) actually were is frame up in this 1977 TV Show – by all means they should have been as great as the Ramones!

Fast forward to 2019 and The Zeros are back to Germany, only ever the 2nd time to Hamburg. As far as i could make out (and got rumors) their tour was plagued. Some whisper i heard referred to annoying promotion, some whispers referred to a tough geographical schedule zigzagging across northern Europe.

When it came out that they will play Hamburg i sure got a ticket but noticing the date i feared the worst: A lonely early March, under the week on a Wednesday. Consequently they had to play the Pub Stage of the Monkeys and it ended up to be in front of 21 people.

From the start i felt damn sorry for the guys as they shared much larger bills in the past (and did play with all my all-time favorites from LA – be it The Germs, The Weirdos and and and). But that remains the fate of touring bands when timing is just not right.

These days The Zeros lack El Vez but still got style, presence and mu-sick-al capabilities. And professional as they are they are just not impacted by a small stage and a small turnout. And boy, that guitar is still there and still provides a driving wall of sound!

They paired old and classic songs with some later and more 60s rock based songs and they sure did throw in some classic covers, eg. from The Stendells (who are that link back to the 60s by all means).

The Zeros (Monkeys Music Club, Hamburg, 06.03.2019 (c) gehkacken.de)

It definitely was fun for the few in attendance and even some dancing took place. Also some chit-chat between the audience and the band so that the depressing small turnout for such a classic and funding punk band could not bring down the mood.

And just to be sure that you get to hear that brilliant guitar just for another time – here is their classic „Don’t push me around“:

Sing-a-long:

Always want me to come, but I don't wanna'
Always want me to come, but I'm not gonna'
Always talk about nothin'
Me I don't wanna' do nothin'
To me I'm just nothin', anyway
Always want me to stay, but I don't wanna
You always want me to stay, well I'm not gonna'
You always talk about nothin'
Me I don't wanna' do nothin'
To me I'm just nothin', so girl
Don't you try
Don't you try
Don't you try, to push me around
Don't push me around
You always want me to stop, but I don't wanna'
You always want me to stop, well I'm not gonna'
You always talk about nothin'
Me I don't wanna' do nothin'
To me I'm just nothin', so girl
Don't you try
Don't you try
Don't you try, to push me around
Don't push me around
Girl, it makes me so bad
Girl, it makes me so bad
Don't push me around
Don't push me around
Don't push me around
Don't push me around
Don't push me around
Don't push me around

Songwriter: Javier Escovedo © Bug Music

I was sold on The Zeros prior and this one just cemented it: Great and friendly people with a great sound and sufficiently great songs. And humble and hard working. That is more than some of the other old bands on the circuit give.

I’d love to see them back, on a warm summer Friday in a packed club with a fitting support band. That’ll be the right way to credit one of the pioneers of West Coast Punk and in general of this funny mu-sick-al niche that i love.

Fun fact: That the promotion was a wee bit strange also manifested itself in the fact that tickets where only available on the website of the promoter and by knowing a wee bit of Spanish. And on the evening tour tickets where sold. I guess the guy is a control freak, or?

The Zeros - 2019 Tour Ticket
The Zeros – 2019 Tour Ticket

nb: At least i deduct from that ticket sold in Hamburg that the prior shows (Paris, London, Leeds, Nottingham and Brighton had on average 170+ people attending) went better. They deserve it.

nbb: Looking at the pictures i would propose that the Monkeys invests into a backdrop for the Pub Stage – that would make bands look much better (if i may note that as a humble consumer).

… only the 4th birthday?

Only 4 years? For many the Monkeys is like a 2nd home and for many it feels like the club has been around „forever“. True is that it opened doors in February 2015 (with an „inoffical“ show and a fun wrong print on the hardticket) and thus indeed it was time for the 4th birthday.

So congrats Sam & Ralf!

The rooster was diverse (and unpretentious) as the club itself. Kick off was with some bubblegum ramonescore from Westerkappeln (a town with indeed a funny name). Three guys, three Hawaii shirts and three sunglasses – and off it took.

The Hawaiians (Monkeys Music Club, Hamburg, 02.03.2019 (c) gehkacken.de)

What is surprising is that the drummer plays standing but in the back. It looks different and i have to admit that this was a bit the tricky part: If you play drums standing and provide key vocals then you got to be on the spot, in time and in sync. Unfortunately sometimes it did not feel that way but listen for yerself:

That said i did like their bubblegum sound, their stage attire (always important to me) and their short set. At the height of that they actually managed to get some Travoltas-like multi voice choruses going, something that i damn like!

And with a swift makeover of the stage it was time for a world premiere: For quite some time some of the Hamburg lot come together in the Monkeys to sing together. What at first was dubbed as Monkeys Choir now is called Hamburg City Punkrock Singers and is a 20+ folks venture.

Hamburg City Punkrock Singers (Monkeys Music Club, Hamburg, 02.03.2019 (c) gehkacken.de)

At first it felt funny, as in front of the stage it was a wee bit empty and that feeling was odd: Those normally standing next to me to see bands all stood up there on stage! Next to vocals they also had Hauke on a guitar to provide a bit of rhythm and by that means hold the voices together (though sometimes being too loud and too off).

Did it work? I have to admit that it worked only partially but as they are into it very fresh there is ample time and space for improvement. On some songs it went remarkably well, specifically when the song did lend itself to vocalization (and some challenge response singing was added).

On other damn simply the full frontal singing may work eg. in a football stadium but it ain’t in the choir setting on stage. But full credit for their effort and indeed i look forward how that venture evolves as the idea is a great idea!

Next chance to see them is open air on the Jolly Roger stage of the Hafengeburtstag – don’t miss it!

And once the choir had finished it was time for some surprise for Sam and Ralf: Instigated by Arne some of the regulars did collect some funds for the club to allow them to address needs outside the regular investment schedule. With some loud cheers they where handed over (only to be proposed by Ralf to be spend on a pub crawl with all the bar, stage and sound hands of the Monkeys).

A gift from the lot (thanks to Arne) ((c) gehkacken.de 2019)
A gift from the lot (thanks to Arne) ((c) gehkacken.de 2019)

Next on the eagerly awaited lottery – the big prize of a Golden Ticket (with 365 days of free entry to shows) was to be drawn (and the lottery tickets sold provided 525€ for a local charity. After some fun about the minor wins the Golden Ticket found home with a regular – well done!

A Golden Ticket for a lucky regular ( (c) gehkacken.de 2019)
A Golden Ticket for a lucky regular ( (c) gehkacken.de 2019)

In the aftermath of that lottery Sam announced 15 minutes of free beer for everyone and thus lured all of the audience to the bar and into the pub. And whilst everybody rushed to drink Faz Waltz took the stage and started to play – obviously nobody told them to hold back a wee bit until everybody was satisfied with beer.

Faz Waltz (Monkeys Music Club, Hamburg, 02.03.2019 (c) gehkacken.de)

But luckily their stone cold glam rock finally did lure people back to the stage and into dancing. Where Guida top their glam rock with some sugar it is Faz Waltz who deconstruct it more to the bare rocking bone and take it down the harder route.

It is retro for sure but it is delivered very very well. And it does not matter if you are into old punk or into Oi! – they carry all of these roots with them and give it back to you.

Faz Waltz (Monkeys Music Club, Hamburg, 02.03.2019 (c) gehkacken.de)

In the end a lot of dancing came about and a lot of smiling faces enjoyed Faz Waltz. It was not sold out but the Monkeys was well filled (and those filling it took good use of the liquid supplies).

Thanks Monkeys and thanks to all who make the Monkeys happen – may you stay afloat for many many years to come. A great rooster of shows is about to happen for 2019, i’ll sure be there.