… Football, Beer and Punk Rock: Always worth a try!

Knock Off have coined the „Football, Beer and Punk Rock“ theme and on this Friday me and 3 mates took it on full steam. First on the most local Derby possible in the Danish part of Hamburg (and the top match to conclude the season in the Oberliga Hamburg): Altonaer FC von 1893 vs. FC Teutonia 1905. The Altona clash. Followed by Wonk Unit at the Monkeys – what a great May evening!

Wonderful warm weather, wonderful surrounding: The good old Adolf Jäger Kampfbahn, one of the oldest football stadiums in Germany, filled with more than 3.000 people eager to congratulate AFC for the Oberliga Titel, allowing them into the play offs for the 4th German division.

The AFC has it’s own contingent of „Football, Beer and Punk Rock“ fans for years, many of them locals and some of them disgruntled FCSP Fans (and some of them even more disgruntled HSV fans).  But this season both Altona teams were top of the League and AFC did win the season right prior to this last game. As such it was a boring game were only Teutonia put an effort in and rightfully did win.

But nevermind the loss, AFC Fans started the party right after the final whistle:

All-in-all they deserved the league win but as it is with Amateur Footie they will have a hard time in the play offs to enter the 4th league. And once there it will be hard for them to stay up. Money sure is the issue here…

Altona 93 (Adolf Jäger Kampfbahn, Hamburg, 17.05.2019)
Altona 93 (Adolf Jäger Kampfbahn, Hamburg, 17.05.2019)

Nevermind future risks, the rather packed stands provided great amateur football feeling (paired with incompetent Beer supply) and gave the team a great cheer when they came around after the final whistle with a large“Hamburger Meister 2019“ flag. Kings of the city indeed.

Now it was time to cycle over to the Monkeys, just down the road towards the east. A small sidestep to grab a quick bite and then back through the hundreds of young urban hipsters cornering at the Alma-Wartenberg-Platz (boy, do i hate that lot). We arrived late at the Monkeys and Vomit already had taken the stage.

Vomit started in 1977 and disbanded in 1980, without a career. They phrase it nowadays as „Very lively punk rock band that play classic 70’s style punk songs. BEST SEEN LIVE!!! OR BEST SEEN WHILST STILL ALIVE!!!“ and indeed i would not buy a record (but maybe a T-Shirt, they had some cool ones).

Vomit (Monkeys Music Club, Hamburg, 17.05.2019 (c) gehkacken.de)

At good times they sounded like early Lurkers, at bad times they sounded like rock but all in all they sounded ok and their singer was a real asset. Also some of the songs seemed to have some fun words, specifically that one with the Iro-sign. Great start into the proceedings and a good reason to ‚ave another one.

The Monkeys was like less than half full in the end when Wonk Unit took the stage and for me it just shows that nowadays folks are too tied to their self-defined or self-set niche. If there is currently a band on the circuit that breaks with tradition in a positive, inspiring and forward looking fashion than it is Wonk Unit. It is Punk, but sure not as you know it mate!

You get all sorts of variation, all sorts of Muzak and definitely you geat a great show with a top notch entertaining front man: Streetwise, funny and to the point when it comes to observing mankind (and fellows).

And they have structured their set to allow for interludes, this time round it was the constant joke and repetition of „Cyclists“. All sorts of variations where put forward and when there was a choice of next song to be made Alex did check back with the audience if not „Cyclists“ would make the audience happy.

Wonk Unit (Monkeys Music Club, Hamburg, 17.05.2019 (c) gehkacken.de)

Alex is not only a gifted entertainer and artist, he is also a schmoozer. In Hamburg he made sure it is known that he is much in sync with the local female punk contingent and he knows half of the audience by name. And sure he did not let go the chance to chat up ladies onto the stage to sing and dance with him.

Wonk Unit (Monkeys Music Club, Hamburg, 17.05.2019 (c) gehkacken.de)

And Wonk Unit Fan extraordinaire Christiane (of Gerd and Razors fame) was invited for her favorite song onto the stage to sing-a-long with Alex and the band. Great fun, great performance and indeed the true test that Wonk Unit are one of us and are much in sync with Hamburg.

They played long, they played longer and then they had an endless series of customer chosen encores (though some song requests where denied as the new drummer was not yet trained on everything). They also constantly declined to perform Bohemian Rhapsody, something that was well noted as a let down.

Following the Wonk Unit set a couple of folks demanded that we would now perform the full Monty: scooting over to the Lobusch and seeing Japanese Noisecore. One of our mates made some loud advertising for it but for the me these toothless grunzcore fellows just would have been a too harsh contrast.

I’d rather had another one in the pub of the Monkeys to round of a great evening with three of the pleasures in life: Football, Beer and Punk Rock.

… 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).