… and them gods descended back down onto scorched earth and gave us: Solidary Punk Rock Days 2020!

Solidarity. That ain’t just a word. In the context of this little subculture that i follow for now 40 odd years it has been a reality. Not too often deep, but often at least on the outside. Gives a general cozy feeling.

But then plagues like this pandemic virus happen. And it basically shuts down the circuit i am on: No more shows. No more travelling bands. No more open clubs. And clubs without income. Staff being without work. Bands without income (and, worst case, having lost their day job). No more travel (on the work front a bonus though).

It was 6 months without shows, some weeks with hard lockdown. Some meetings at the Hafenklang, who resorted to selling beer streetside. Some shows online. DJ Set and beers at the Knust. Two great Punk Rock Hamburg memorabilia auctions that provided a 5 digit number of € for our clubs.

And then three angles came down from heaven, god send, and did so much more.

That „more“ provided the icing on the cake of Solidarity.

Tickets where limited, under the current strict rules, and much in demand.

I had to let go Thursday (at the Dschungel) and Friday (at the Molotov and at the Monkeys) due to other commitments but i was all in and eager for Saturday and Sunday at the Knust.

And it was Die Mimmis from Bremen that provided the intro towards my return to live mu-sick, in a regulated seating way. The Knust took some calculated risk, if this would have gone astray it would have been more than a financial desaster.

Fabsi and his lot had a short runfrom Bremen into Hamburg and kicked off in bright sunshine. I was around with them in the early 80s, there was the infamous show with Grober Unfug at Buchtstrasse in 1982 and there was a tour with Mimmis, Suhrbiers and Waltons in i guess 1985 that ended on New Years Eve at Bremen.

Die Mimmis (Knust, Hamburg, 08.08.2020 (c) gehkakcen.de)
Die Mimmis (Knust, Hamburg, 08.08.2020 (c) gehkakcen.de)

Today in 2020 their approach to Punk Rock is out of sync with myself, though they provided some nice references to old Düsseldorf Punk. Some other references i even found odd, but that was just me. Honestly, they did not work for me and from looking around they also did not work out for many of me mates. I guess i have outgrown that one particular niche in my little mu-sick-al cupboard.

But, they were there, on stage, live. And that counts.

Next and eagerly awaited came Hamburgs finest, the Razors. It was to be the first show with Stefan „Stoffel“ Jenkel on Guitar, since Witte choose to leave the Razors. A big guitar sound to step into, a great band to join.

And how did it look like? It looked like this – in Black with a Red guitar.

Razors (Knust, Hamburg, 08.08.2020)

From the first song onward it became apparent that we would be in for a change: As someone in the audience put it „the guitar sounded less Witte and more Schwabe“ and if you ask me he was spot on. I would even add that Wittes chainsaw/buzz-saw guitar sound dominated the Razors a wee bit too much. Some songs where either bulldozed under it and some where just blitzed through.

How did it sound? It sounded like this:

Great, energetic and fitting in. Wow – the Razors can call themselves lucky for that selection. They had a well conducted and rehearsed set list, old and new items and some surprises: They can not only rescue 40 year old songs into today but they can also spit out a 45 seconds hardcore smasher that ends with a literate bang.

Here is the 40 year old beauty, not played live for many many years:

I could not only feel the joy from the stage, i could also feel the joy around me: Many eyes did glaze, many faces did smile. And even more drinks got consumed, both to counter the heat & sweat and because people got really relaxed and back into the groove.

In between sure we got the old-time favorites, the sing-a-long songs – the hidden gems. My gem is forever Tommies Gang (or Tommy’s Gang) and i was happy as a fuck to capture that one too:

Superb. Outstanding.

I am back in front of the stage to listen to electrified guitars. I am damn sure that many just can’t relate to the beauty of the feeling but i know that i was surrounded by like-minded people. By people who yearned for six months for this moment.

Razors (Knust, Hamburg, 08.08.2020)

Perfect set, perfect setting. Perfect new feeling, i guess both for the Razors on stage (who looked reasonably happy after the show), for Stoffel and for the lot.

Did i note that #thereaintnuthinbetterthanlivemusic?

Next on and in for another first (first foreign band to play live in Hamburg after Covid-19 lockdown and regulations) was Alex from Wonk Unit with an acoustic set (supported by Pwosion on Bass).

And they started of with something simple, tongue in check:

I doubt that next to the 2nd Meat Puppets Album there was ever something that easy, nice and sing-a-long in a country setting:

Horses from my window,
Horses in their winter clothes,
It’s really grey in the fields today,
I’m glad i’m not a pony,
I’m glad i’m not a pony.

I am not sure how much people over here actually get with respect to Alex chats, his banter and his lyrics – Alex is a perfect English loudmouth with a gentleman charm. And not surprisingly this charm also worked over here with the Hamburg lot coming out of Covid-19 and in the summer heat of Hamburg.

It is actually „forever“ that i could listen to such song introductions: Honest, real and street wise. And sure Alex is a princes. Though i wonder if he ever listened to The Freeze. Lets hope not.

Lets rather hope that he is able to assemble his troupes next year for a full on assault on Hamburg. The Hamburg Wonk Family will be there, in force and in Wonk Family Clad.

Alex Wonk Acoustic (Knust, Hamburg, 08.08.2020)

The Hamburg lot already is fully versed in sing-a-long to the many great songs they have, here is another smasher that made people even more happy – from the very first Wonk Unit single (2015):

Sing-a-long:

Things were going so well,
until you asked me, for guest list,
and I said “Sorry, I don’t speak English, Je M’appelle Alex”.

Do I look Rich? Do I look Rich?
And I would love to indulge your ego, but suddenly, you appear dead to me.
And I would love to indulge your ego, but suddenly, you appear dead to me.

Dead to me Motherfucker…

Things were going so well,
until you asked me, for guest list,
and I said “Sorry, I don’t speak English, Je M’appelle Alex”.

Do I look Rich? Do I look Rich?
And I would love to indulge your ego, but suddenly, you appear dead to me.
And would love to indulge your ego, but suddenly, you appear dead to me.

Dead to me… Dead to me….
Dead to me… Dead to me….
Dead to me… Dead to me….
Dead to me… Dead to me….

At the end eventually they had to finish, 22:00 was a strict curfew for outdoors, even for DJ music. And it finished with some nice fireworks (in the most limited fashion that did not draw attention by authorities).

And once it was over there was one unique feeling: It is so great to have that live music setting back.

Whilst Saturday was plenty (of joy, of music, of booze), the Sunday matinee was much crisper, much harder (partly due to hangovers): It was the first attempt to perform live, on stage, indoors – with an audience and with serving alcohol (something that legally was doubtful to the last minute).

Strict seating, max 8 persons per table and no movements. A total of 70something tickets were allowed to be sold and they went very very fast. The unlucky ones would be allowed to see the show outdoors, on the big screen.

The honor to perform this first went to another one of Hamburgs finest: The most likely best cover band in the world – Jam Today.  At 1430 sharp they entered the stage and looked down onto something like a beer garden.

October Fest.

ZDF Fernsehgarten.

(Thanks to Klaus (Razors) for that memory!

But it was an indoor beer garden full of eager fans.

Jam Today (Knust, Hamburg, 09.08.2020)

Helge on Guitar, Lui on Bass and Ingo on Drums. And off it went into sing-a-long songs the lot knew by heart:

Every song got plenty of applause, it just did not matter if there was a chord wrong or something out of sync. It was back inside, in the dark hall of a club, with a beer in front of you. That is what mattered. That your friends where not only around you but also up on stage. That is what mattered. That you friends organized this shit. That is that mattered.

Jam Today also had a surprise for the lot, That’s Entertainment was transformed into a mellow version and Hamburgs own Punk Rock Nightingale (who normally lends it’s voice to Superstars like Gerd or Milo) provided additional vocals:

And yes, it worked. It really worked. And in almost no time the set was done.

But still they had a surprise: A little quiz to auction of Jam Today memorabilia. And that was real fun: From Uganda to The Jam and on to the White Riot tour 1977. And a great surprise question for the final winner.

Correct answers would have been: Kampala, Town Called Malice, Clash & Buzzcocks & The Jam & The Slits, Helge. Now guess the questions!

Jam Today (Knust, Hamburg, 09.08.2020)

Just purrfect!

The only thorn in my side was that whilst it was great to feel this shit again the setting definitely is an issue and won’t work for all clubs.

And frank, it won’t break even.

It would also most likely lack content, as bands from abroad for some more time won’t be able to travel.

So whilst this was a highlight, whilst this was injecting energy and joy – it won’t cure our hunger. It won’t cure our lust. And most likely it won’t give them clubs, them bands, them sound/bar guys’n’girls etc the financials they need.

But on that Sunday afternoon, after 4 days of Punk Rock Hamburg Solidarity it did not matter. The only thing that mattered is that Arne, Perry and Dirk stepped up and made this happen, no matter what. They came god send and they cured a large part of our pain.

Lets see if we can get that momentum going and attend whatever becomes available. We must keep this shit going. We must nurture it.  We must grow something where now scorched earth is the outlook.

The good thing? I am not alone! Let’s go!

THANKS YOU GUYS, FOREVER IN YOUR DEBT!

… friends getting wasted: Burn down the fucking Baum 13.0!

Another year gone by like nothing – prior to this one i had like 100 bands across 35 shows under my belt for 2019. And within that seen the Razors 4 times, Knock Off twice and Sixteen Again once. And guess what? I was still eager towards this one as besides loving all three of them in playing live it was the meet life long friends setting (and my dislike of YE Parties on 31.12. in general) that ensured it was a show not to be missed.

Kick off was very early with Sixteen Again, i barely made it on time to the Knust. From the small stage of the Hafenklang they jumped onto the vast space of the Knust stage, something they did not take full use of (as in roaming space).

Sixteen Again (Knust, Hamburg, 30.12.2019)

Their job was cheer leading and boy did they do the job well – people already at the Knust where lured from the bar and from chatting towards the front of the stage and into plenty of sing-a-long.

That’s sure a rather easy task if you play Buzzcocks songs but it also is about how it comes across. And here it is coming across with plenty of appreciation and love for the muzak from Messrs. Shelley and Diggle.

Great stuff, despite some chord hickups, some lost entry points for singing and other human failures that only ever brought bright smiles onto the audience faces. I dig what they do and i dig how they pay tribute to one of the greatest bands from the class of 1976 (and i did not even realize that Helge was paying tribute to the late Pete Shelley by sporting facial hair).

Next Knock Off, hand picked by the Razors for this occasion and i am totally with them: Whilst sporting a slightly different sound they share a lot of things with the Razors (though they write the more complex songs).

And that’s one of them – a great song about survival (and the one song that got me hooked on them). Super lyrics and perfect guitar. Those who aim to strum this at home … here you are:

Now get out there and do your own thing! Knock Off do it since 2013 and are going strong. An old mate of mine, who never saw them prior, asked me „are they the short haired Ramones?“ and i had to correct him: There is more than three chords!

Knock Off (Knust, Hamburg, 30.12.2019)

Hamburg digs them, Hamburg loves them and that love is being mirrored.  Andy T, Andy C and Lozz just get it across totally unpretentious, totally non-made-up and just refreshingly easy.

They devoted this hymn to Micky Fitz (now sadly gone for 3 years due to the big fucking C, something the Hamburg lot also had too much of it in 2019) and Hamburg joined in full force:

Stand up, Stand up, Sing it loud
This is our scene, we are proud

That feeling of unity that the Razors provide to us elderly, that feeling also Knock Off get across. Just perfect and fitting well for this year end occasion that is actually all about a (certain) scene coming together, talking, drinking and singing. And selectively some dancing.

Knock Off (Knust, Hamburg, 30.12.2019)

Knock Off did a long set though at times seemed speeding through it. They finished off with their high speed assault Jack The Ripper:

Well done lads, though a bit of a sad evening, as it was the last time that Lozz was on bass, he needs to step down due to health issues. I am sure the guys will pick a great stand-in on bass (just like the Razors did) and i also would like to see Knock Off back in Hamburg in 2020 – you guys are always welcome here!

By now the audience had been warmed up sufficiently, had taken in drinks and was more than ready for a class entry of the Razors:

Sufficient Pomp for the Circumstances i’d say, like dressed up for the occasion (hint: those with a sharp eye will note my involvement in dressing up one Razorette for the occasion). And nope – the well filled Knust won’t go away on you!

The Razors have played a lot this year and thus thrusted out their set like a well oiled machine – this time round with plenty of old hits and old audience favorites.

Razors (Knust, Hamburg, 30.12.2019)

What is forever striking me is that Wittes buzzsaw guitar sound is only ever getting better. Once i heard him back on 1982 on the Napalm EP he is one of my guitar heroes (only to sugar coat it later with eg. Noise Annoys). And that uptempo guitar also turns my favorite Razors song into the timeless beauty that it actually is:

Count me into the gang! And more traditions came upon us, it was Heiko joining them to take on the law (as the law is what we hate) and it was also time for more crowed favorites.

Razors (Knust, Hamburg, 30.12.2019)

It included Sven and Klaus bragging their way into their 1980 smash hit on their own little hate for DISCO:

And as tradition has it the end of the show was reserved for being „in it together“: Because You’re Young turned the stage of the Knust into a massive sing-a-long space and the Razors and their friends (which i guess was anyway everyone in attendance) said hello to the year end day (it was past midnight by now) and fuck-off to age.

Razors (Knust, Hamburg, 30.12.2019)

Great set, great fun and this year it felt even better than the years before. Maybe due to too much beer entrusted into my hands by friends, maybe because 2019 actually, besides all the painful losses, was still a great year for me.

From the stage the lot took the party to the bar, to the DJ and got treated with old classics to continue sing-a-long and dance-a-long.

... endless party galore ( (c) gehkacken.de 2019)
… endless party galore ( (c) gehkacken.de 2019)

I have not yet  done a full tally but it was like 36 shows, 103 bands this year and this was the perfect icing on that mu-sick-all cake. I was home very late, sufficiently loaded and the best wife of all took on YE shopping without me (as i was neither alive nor presentable to the public). The perfect wasted feeling for a rather perfect year, both with music and in private life (for actually both me love and my humble self).

2020 – bring it on! 20 years of happy marriage, 41 years of Punk Rock for me. And it is only ever going uphill, so i consider myself utmost lucky.

… the invisible naked man appears: It’s Yard Bomb record release party!

The record has been in circulation for a while though the official release was only end of September. As such the record release party was set for 02.10., which meant next day would be a public holiday and thus nobody should have had an excuse for not showing up.

RECORD RELEASE DAY!
RECORD RELEASE DAY!

In the end downstairs at the Hafenklang turned out as a space too large for the party, above beauty was celebrated by less than 100 people i guess, a bit of a downturn.

First on Last Line Of Defense, who jumped in for Suck who could not make it due to their singer being ill. It was an easy and obvious choice, as they share home and people with Yard Bomb.

Last Line Of Defense (Hafenklang, Hamburg, 02.10.2019)

On average i am not a big fan of their songs, too often they sound just odd to my ears without being able to pin-point exactly what offends me. The best moment came at the end when they grabbed a 2nd singer from their circle of friends and gave us what i believe was a great cover version … check it your for yerself:

As ever don’t get offended by my mu-sick-al tastes and receptors, check them out on your own. For me not the best start into the proceedings.

Next on the Razors, who a couple of days ago had just played on the river Elbe on the MS Hedi, now back on-shore and a stone throw away from the Elbe. They had been invited specifically for this occasion by Yard Bomb and sure wanted to give cudos to their great seminal effort of a first record release.

Razors (Hafenklang, Hamburg, 02.10.2019)

For the Razors it was a bit of a 40 year comeback, their first 7″ (out in October 1979) was recorded at the old Hafenklang Studios, right here at this location. Some say it was the first DIY Punk 7″  by a German band – some doubt it. I am not sure about the statement but that does not matter – here is  „Madhouse Meeting“ from their 1982 12″ on Konneckschen.

They had shorted and speeded up their set and almost matched up with the so much younger Hardcore bands. For the encore, as ever „Because you’re young“ they got members of the Hamburg City Punk Rock Singers on stage and gave a nice sing-a-long finish.

Razors with Choir  (Hafenklang, Hamburg, 02.10.2019)

Next stop for the Razors will be „Burn down the Baum 13.0“ on 30.12.2019 at the Knust, with Sixteen Again (finest Buzzcocks covers from Hamburg) and Knock Off (finest Oi! from London).

Then it was time for Yard Bomb and what i thought another speedy run down of their songs (they can play 14 songs in 21 minutes). But this time round it was a bit more mellow, they took more time to … twist again:

For me they are the hottest shit currently, specifically in that little genre of CA Hardcore 1980s build. Perfect speed, great and very capable guitar work, solid back line and a singer so full of energy. Relentless energy.

Yard Bomb  (Hafenklang, Hamburg, 02.10.2019)

For this occasion they even re-worked their hit „Turning up Milhouse“ into a longer version with a a groovy extra minute, see yerself…

They got a good reception but given that it was only like 1/3 packed it was not bodies flying everywhere and people jumping up and down. I guess upstairs that would have been a much easier thing and, in hindsight, a better place for the party.

Yard Bomb  (Hafenklang, Hamburg, 02.10.2019)

They also played some covers as encores and got their old drummer back up for that occasion. And with that encore even the slowest brain would realize where they pull the mu-sick-al ideas from.

Great set to celebrate a great record. Let’s hope they put some touring behind it in order to sell it off quickly. They deserve to be seen so much wider than just Wedel or Hamburg, can someone please put them into a bus to support a larger US band?

The invisible naked man watching Yard Bomb ( pic by Fab)
The invisible naked man watching Yard Bomb ( pic by Fab)

But Yard Bomb did not finish off the party, late in the night we got something extra. Rolf, who has some Finland connections, was to surprise the lot with some Finish Country Death Metal Banjo or whatever mu-sick-al cupboard you would like to pass onto them.

They actually claim: „Dark Bottle is doombilly, psych-country, alt-punk and krautstoner at the same time.“ There you go!

The „crowd“ by now was a mere 30 people but they all enjoyed the surprise of something completely different. Sure it was late and sure the day off next day had lured some folks into booze – and on booze this was indeed a fun thing to watch. And that fun the audience provided back to the stage.

Dark Bottle  (Hafenklang, Hamburg, 02.10.2019)

But Dark Bottle (from sunny Tampereen kaupunki) had a wee bit more: The songs had meanings and besides the uptempo stuff it also has surprisingly good lyrics. Go and check them out, it may be worth it!

Great and late evening, though not really a record release party per se. It missed the feeling of „packed“ and „everybody going nuts“ but as said the Yard Bomb 12″ gets that across for a start. Go and score it! Now!