… this is who we are, this is how we feel: Descendents!

When this years summer stint of the Descendents in Europe was confirmed i got quite eager to see where they would take camp besides known events like Punk Rock Holiday or Rebellion. To my surprise it was Hannover and the rather small Kulturzentrum Faust.

The good thing: I got 4 tickets (equals a car full of friends) on Day One of the ticket sale. The other good thing: Hannover is like only 160 KM south of Hamburg, so in reach of a quick ride.

The bad thing? It would be a weekday and it would be during peak traffic. The even worse thing? Construction on the motorway, narrowing it from three to a single lane. Paired with a chain of trucks, broken down trucks and end of summer school holidays this resulted in queues. Long and slow queues. It took us from our after work meeting point in Altona more than 3 hours to get there…

… only to realize that No Sugar (who had a slightly longer drive) got stuck and could not make it in time at all.

As we spent way too much time in the car we were thirsty and hungry, so instead of Useless ID we had a drink and a bite at the Faust with the other folks from Hamburg who made their way. We got a bit of the end of Useless ID and for my liking they are just way too soft. That type of Fat Wreck mu-sick that i happily let go.

Many people in the packed Faust left for fresh air after the Useless ID set, the Hamburg lot rather advanced to the front of the stage to make sure it can live out it’s Descendents appreciation. Fandom. Support. Whatever.

Most important things first: A scan of the setlist. And 30+ songs would wait for us, with a pretty good spread (though missing like 30+ favorites).

Descendents - Setlist (Kulturzentrum Faust, Hannover, 08.08.2019)
Descendents – Setlist (Kulturzentrum Faust, Hannover, 08.08.2019 (c) gehkacken.de)

As the Descendents did the headliner rock’n’roll setup (support had to setup in front of the Descendents gear) they were ready in minutes. Still, they took some extra time to kick off, eagerly awaited by the lot (checking times every minute). And in their typical unpretentious style they took the stage, smiled at the audience and gave it a little chatty intro to Suburban Home (and yes, we want to be stereotyped, we want to be classified).

Descendents (Faust, Hannover, 08.08.2019 (c) gehkacken.de)

From the first chords on i had the feeling of something slightly more intimate, something more outgoing than the last two shows i saw: Markthalle and Barcelona last year. It may well be the much more cozy location, it may well be the not barricaded stage or it may have just been the fact that we had handshake distance to Stephen and got individually carried away into „this is my very own private show, they play just for me„.

Descendents (Faust, Hannover, 08.08.2019 (c) gehkacken.de)

Bill as ever towering behind his giant drumset (i guess he uses the biggest crash cymbals i have ever seen on tour), the smiling Buddha with his headphone. Karl, the only guy i recognize to avoid a plectrum on the bass, holding things together and always looking out for the others. Stephen with his relentlessly shredding of his guitar and constantly throwing faces at the audience. And Milo being the most subtle front man, taking some songs light and on others throwing himself in like nobody else. I guess he takes some lyrics indeed personal!

And funnily they are all my age (MYAGE!) and a still „I don’t wanna grow up“ means as much to them as it means to me (having had the poster on my wall for ages, actually until i got married and moved into a single apartment with me love).

Here is a snippet from @descendentscrew:

And if your eyesight is not impacted by computers, TV’s and mobile phone screens you can see the Hamburg lot at the far end of the stage, dancing away led by our Punk Rock Hamburg Nightingale, a Descendents fan extraordinaire. Sure thing she is also known to the Descendents and as the Hannover lot failed to pick up singing a chorus Milo resorted not only once but twice for her assistance…

Milo and Christiane (Kulturzentrum Faust, Hannover, 08.08.2019)
Milo and Christiane (Kulturzentrum Faust, Hannover, 08.08.2019)

Will she wash her hands? Will she be able to sleep back home in sunny Hamburg? I guess she was simply happy as a fuck, though being a Rock Star herself with GERD (a band that fills stadiums rather than small Hannover clubs). As a Rock Star she doesn’t give a damn about her bad reputation and lives out her fandom totally unconstrained. Luckily only one audience member from Hannover recognized her, else it would have been news in the yellow press yet again.

The Descendents played on and on but also somehow rushed through their set (at least it felt so). I lost count of the songs, they also did re-arrange some of the order and at the end surprisingly came back for an encore. Years ago it was alien to all the US bands coming over  but today most of them have adjusted to give something extra once they feel they got some extra appreciation from the audience.

Descendents (Faust, Hannover, 08.08.2019 (c) gehkacken.de)

I did not take count but they finished around 23:00, so that’ll be 75 minutes of perfect popular music if you ask me. And indeed the feeling we all had („this was better than Markthalle last year„) seemed echoed from the stage: Whilst the rest of the band was already off stage Bill stood behind his drums and smiled away with a bright and bold smile, two thumbs up. The Hamburg lot did echo this, making it 4.

Descendents - 4 Thumbs Up (Kulturzentrum Faust, Hannover, 08.08.2019)
Descendents – 4 Thumbs Up (Kulturzentrum Faust, Hannover, 08.08.2019 (c) gehkacken.de)

And also the Hannover crowed did cheer a lot. On top i saw a lot of smiling faces, actually also quite some younger ones. I guess for them it was the first time to be blasted away by the Descendents.

We did not rest long, as we all had to work on Friday. A quick beer, a chat and back into the car. The drive north was nicely empty, so we made it home in less than 2 hours. And thanks to the foresight of our youngster on board we still had cool beer for the drive home.

I think i noted a couple of times that i am not a big friend of away tours when it comes to mu-sick. The Descendents though are worth that cause, period. I guess i will have to make sure every summer to catch them at least once. And i know that i have friends in Hamburg who will happily join in – just puurrrfect! #thereaintnuthinbetterthanlivemusic!

… for Steve!

Although i know that our little scene is actually very close, very tight and generally full of mutual appreciation there are these little moments, these little gestures and these observations that do stun me. Tuesday evening at the Hafenklang was such a moment: What under normal conditions would have drawn say 100+ people to see the Adolescents turned out into an almost sold out show that the Hamburg lot come out for and provided the band with a huge wave of love and appreciation.

When the sad news of Steve passing away came over many people thought „…that’s the end of the Adolescents, they will cancel the tour“ and quite right so. We (and i) have lost members of our little scene in the past and not so recent past and it is a devastating feel. And now think of a band that just finished a new record, booked flights to Europe and all of that was managed by … Steve. It takes a lot of guts to then just hang in and come over. You could feel that the band was in two minds: The heavy push down by the sad loss and the uplift from the love coming back from the audience.

And whilst you should never reveal the end of the book at the start i think „For Steve!“ is a good reason to let you know that the Adolescents came out of that amazing: They gave most likely the best, tightest and heart-full set ever in Hamburg: For Steve!

The support slot was taken by No Sugar who sported some familiar faces. It was their 3rd only gig but individually they have some experience under their belt. They claim to do Proto-Post-Punk/Anarcho-Rock’n’Roll and that makes me smile, as i can now add another drawer to my mu-sick-al cupboard.

No Sugar (Hafenklang, Hamburg, 17.07.2018 (c) gehkacken.de)
No Sugar (Hafenklang, Hamburg, 17.07.2018 (c) gehkacken.de)

When they played i could actually not make out any connections to the cupboards mentioned, it think they play something with a good twang and have a special advantage by all of the three in front singing. Either individually, or in harmony or with some as chorus. Whilst i could not make out all lyrics (in English) it was their main asset.

Did i like them? Yes – i stayed inside during their set whilst half of the audience decided to have beer, sun and conversations outside of the Hafenklang. Their set was short (say 25 minutes) and only had one disadvantage for my ears: There was little rhythm change, little variations in speed. Whilst that per se is not an issue, i think their type of twang would work better with. Lets see where they head for and lets see how it works should i see them again.

And then came the Adolescents and they were greeted with loads of applause and loads of cheers. And they kicked in like this:

Bang, spot on. And sorry for cutting the cheers off at the of the video – there where many. It was clear that for them doing this was a heavy task, the heaviest most likely for Tony (who lost a life long friend) and for Brad (from F-Minus, Leftover Cräck and Rats in the Wall), who had to fill in on Bass.

Adolescents (Hafenklang, Hamburg, 17.07.2018 (c) gehkacken.de)

And whilst they blitzed, bulldozed and stormed through their set they also took the time to remember Steve and let the audience know how much they appreciate the support and expressions of love. It was truly a show fueled by love and positive energy and it made everybody feel good.

As stated earlier i think it was the tightest and most energetic set of the Adolescents ever in Hamburg. The longer the set went, the the way above 200 people in the audience got moving and enjoying. And i think also the band on stage really enjoyed it.

And when it came to the end there sure were encores and the final encore was an obvious one:

Thank you so much Adolescents! That was a worthy remembering of Steve’s legacy and that was a great show. Hard things may hit us and hard thinks will eventually hit us – it is how you go about it. You went about it in the best possible way and for that we are thankful.

And with all that love and joy most of the audience set off to plunder the merch table, many got the new record and a shirt – one loner got the first record and subsequently was taunted by one of me mates (for no good reason). I got the new record and the „Free Melania“ T-Shirt and when i turned around 5 of me mates had done the same choice, so we decided to co-ordinate wearing it for one show in the future to appear as a gang.

I was home very late (and nicely hung over on work next day) but for a very worthy cause.

nb: And here is how the Adolescents phrase it:

On June 27, 2018, we lost STEVE SOTO: fearless leader, bass player, singer, songwriter, producer, and best friend. After much internal conflict, soul searching, and heartbreaking discussion, we have realized that Steve - the hardest working man in punk rock - would be upset if we did not finish the tour to support the new record that he worked tirelessly on for well over a year.

Steve did not cancel shows, and considered doing so to be sloppy, disruptive, and unprofessional.

We will do what Steve set out to do. What he wants of us, and what is right. We will fulfill our commitment to share those songs. Longtime friend Brad Logan will rock the bass in Steve’s honor this summer in Europe and the UK.

We thank you for your support, love, understanding, and patience with us during this time and hope you will join us to celebrate and honor Steve the way we know - by playing the music he helped to create.

This is not a time for hate. Hug your loved ones; this ride is short. Come celebrate Steve’s legacy. Sing the songs we wrote.

Tony, Dan, Mike, Ian
The Adolescents