Early Friday: Footie waste and Power Pop excellence!

Last time the Pointed Sticks Europe Tour was dropped short notice, as such many of the lot in Hamburg where quite happy that in 2019 a fresh attempt was made to get us to savior that Canadian Power Pop that has sustained the test of time.

Timing of that show though turned out to be more of a nightmare, first there was footie (18:30 Kick off) and then there was also a conflicting show at the Monkeys (with TV Smith & Duncan Reid). On top of that the Molotow (for whatever reason) demoted the show upstairs to the Skybar and to an early start (18:00 doors, 19:00 Support and 20:00 them Sticks). Conflict all over.

Me and two mates choose one half of footie and thus dropping the majority of the support, others choose to drop footie at all.

Millerntor (29.03.2019 18:29 (c) gehkacken.de)
Millerntor (29.03.2019 18:29 (c) gehkacken.de)

Those who dropped footie at all where the clear winners, another goalless performance by the Boys in Brown and thus continued questions around the ability of the coach to drive consistent performance and improvements (and he indeed is the reason why i don’t cover footie currently in my blog).

So with an urge to get out we scooted from the stadium to the Molotow and got the last bit of Sheep On A Tree. Hake, the singer, is most likely the most knowledgeable person when it comes to Power Pop with a Punk background as such he was very eager to have them Sheeps supporting them Sticks.

Sheep On A Tree (Moltow, Hamburg, 29.03.2019 (c) gehkacken.de)
Sheep On A Tree (Moltow, Hamburg, 29.03.2019 (c) gehkacken.de)

For the short bit i saw Sheep On A Tree sounded just great, despite Hake having been moaning on social media recently that the band was hiding from him (and practices). Tight, hard and fast and Hake getting the message across. In hindsight my choice of footie was wrong, i should have devoted my time to Sheep On A Tree. Period.

Next on Pointed Sticks and i am now making a wild guess: Half of the audience was only ever there because 1990s and later American Pop Punk bands covered them – the other (older) half was there because they came across them in the early 80s. Here is how they looked in Dennis Hopper’s 1980 movie „Out Of The Blue„:

They have been around with local success (and, given they signed for Stiff at one time, international recognition too) from 1978 to 1981 and came back together in 2006 with some regular shows and some new output (next to a plethora compilations, best off’s, re-releases).

The good thing though is that it is still the same people, well aged. And here is how they took ownership of the Molotow Sky Bar:

Great sound, great light and most likely the 2nd best band backdrop behind the drummer i have ever seen (it looked like a ripped t-shirt). Love that humble attitude!

Fun fact: The drummer looked really old but did a stunning job (eagerly eyed by some of the local drummers in attendance, who raised more than one eyebrow and more than one surprise smile).

Pointed Sticks (Molotow, Hamburg, 29.03.2019 (c) gehkacken.de)

They started with some upbeat songs and sounded very well: An almost lightweight 80s power pop sound (thanks for sure to the keyboard) and not over paced (and error some bands that come together sometimes do).

They did lack consistent stage attire but at least they had a stage trick: Singer and keyboard had a drink being served to the stage by their tour manager after three songs. That is the wild life of world wide rock’n’roll i guess.

The initial songs got quite some cheering but i sensed in the middle of the set that the audience was bit more reserved. Their detailed discography is not at my mind at all times, i can only assume they slotted in some songs lesser known.

Pointed Sticks (Molotow, Hamburg, 29.03.2019 (c) gehkacken.de)

Towards the end came more upbeat and sing-a-long songs, some covers (where the Beatles cover could have been dropped but i guess because of the proximity to where the Beatles played in the 1960s in Hamburg they wanted to do it) and it all accumulated into the one song that for many defines them:

Somehow it must be frustrating for a musician i guess, feels a bit „one hit wonder„. It also does not do them justice, as they are indeed a gifted power pop outfit with a much wider œuvre than that song.

Appreciation by the audience at that point was large not to say enthusiastic. So enthusiastic that they did break the early curfew opposed on them and gave a Sonics cover as their final song.

Great show by a long lost beauty. And quite surprising how many people after the show got records, t-shirts, tickets and god knows what signed. I was stunned and i guess that small but tight circle of devotees keeps them Sticks floating and enjoying. I did read that Japan was the sheer reason for them to get on again in 2006 and bet ya out there it is even more crazy.

Now back to square one – did the singer had a bald scalp (he is now hiding under a hat) back then? No, he sure had not:

Just like Maniac the day prior in the depths of the Komet cellar the Pointed Sticks up there in the Sky Bar should have deserved a bigger stage and a bigger audience beyond Punk Rock record collectors.

Nevermind, thanks for finally gracing our shores in style my Canadian friends! Your are welcome to return!

… HH-Soundtrack 2016 and the fate of the missing audience (and an too ambitious venue)!

The 2nd edition of the HH-Soundtrack event was in some ways a fun copy of the previous: Same bands, same problems. This time round it was supposed to be the record release party of the Channel Rats but their brand new DIY CD did not make it in time to Hamburg – a quite some people looked forward to it (like last year to the Platzangst LP, now almost an urban legend).

HH-SOUNDTRACK 2016
HH-SOUNDTRACK 2016

C³I kicked off early and towards an almost empty Knust. A mere 50 people i’d say, half of them band members of the other acts. Damn, not a good start. But good to see them back and with a great outlook for their own LP, slated for release on 28.01.2017 (with a show at the Störtebeker).

C³I (Knust, Hamburg, 09.12.2016) (c) gehkacken.de)

Dominated by the unique bass play from Arne they pushed ahead and both transformed songs from the 80s and new material into a great sound. From all the bands to play most likely the most gifted ones and sure thing with a unique proposition.

And whilst they had their 2014 single on display on the stage it was Heiko Hamster who made an effort to stroll with a box of singles through the audience and force them upon the small crowd for an even smaller amount. DIY taken to the max i’d say – and it is a worthy effort that should sit in yer collection mate!

Next the supposed headliner, who dodged this duty most likely for a reason. And they kicked off like this:

That’s the original version, they have also now added a more rock’n’roll themed version to their set – that 2016 version is less of a blast and more of a rhythm. In the running up to their recording sessions for the CD they have practised a lot and have tightened their set – some songs where near perfect.

Channel Rats (Knust, Hamburg, 09.12.2016) (c) gehkacken.de)

On the other hand it seemed that drummer Dennis was eager to speed things up so much that Andreas would not be able to follow with the vocals. With that style they destroyed a couple of songs and actually created a lot of question marks in the audience (not more than 100 by now).

Channel Rats Setlist (Knust, Hamburg, 09.12.2016 (c) gehkacken.de)
Channel Rats Setlist (Knust, Hamburg, 09.12.2016 (c) gehkacken.de)

And from the ashes of such mishaps (or on purpose jokes, who knows) they where able to come back with another new song in near perfect sound …

Done! Now we all look forward to the CD release, i am led to believe that they have spend a lot of time perfecting their songs and sound on it. Let’s see …

And that gave way to Sheep On A Tree, who now have played a couple of times over the year and done so with quite a variation of quality. They took the stage like this:

The sound to me was not the best and somehow there was a missing „umppff“ in the stomach … don’t know if that was down to the sound operators of the Knust (normally very gifted) or the amp settings on the stage.

Sheep On A Tree (Knust, Hamburg, 09.12.2016) (c) gehkacken.de)

Sheep On A Tree made a crisp tour through their repertoire and did not bother too much with audience participation, i guess because it looked quite empty from up there. So just like during the Channel Rats set Hake decided to have a go at a song in the audience, thus luring the people closer.

By now the whole show did run late, people had already left and it was for the outsiders (on two counts: Daily Thompson where from far and their style was to be far out against the others too) to finish the Soundtrack 2016 off:

I had no clue what lay ahead for me with them but by the looks of the band members i guessed „Saint Vitus“ and that seemed not too far off.

Daily Thompson (Knust, Hamburg, 09.12.2016) (c) gehkacken.de)

But they had a hard time – an almost empty space and an audience that only in parts where interested in their style. I too gave in at 01:00 and strolled home, it was a hard week with work travel and a show on Wednesday already, so i was not able to bite it down. Also them set as the end was somehow wrong – the line-up should have been Sheep’s staring, then Daily T, then C³I and then them Rats including handing out CD’s. But whom am i against the grim reality of HH-Soundtrack 2016?

Will there be a 2017 edition?

HH SOUNDTRACK 2016
HH SOUNDTRACK 2016

… UK 1982 can still be a surprise thanks to The Defects!

The Defects from sunny Belfast are in my record collection (with their first 7″ from 1981) and i never considered them favourites – though some of me mates swear they can pull a great show. That swearing (and the fact they where paired with Sheep on A Tree) got me down to the Hafenklang on a warm weekday, thanks to moving house that location is now only a short stroll downhill from me home.

From the start it was not to be a full house but more a meeting of the old friends and Blackpool pilgrims – a mere 50 people made it and thus the large room downstairs felt a wee bit empty.

Kick off early with Sheep on A Tree and this time round they where not that together – some hickups and some speed issues (drums = full speed, guitar/bass – normal speed) and Hake on vocals more mumbling than shouting.

Sheep on A Tree (Hafenklang, Hamburg, 07.09.2016) (c) gehkacken.de)

Best moment indeed was when they played the Intro as the 5th song and showed how brilliant their guitar work at high speed can be. As i do love them anyway i did not complain though they did not get the same energy across as on previous shows.

And depending on where you sit a fun/no fun moment with Pohl, who correctly argued on „sharing economy“ with someone in the audience only to pester that guy later to get him a Whiskey from the bar. And guess what? He got his drink, served to the stage. Stunning!

With little changeover The Defects took the stage and as with many of the bands from their time and their location they are now unpretentious old lads – and with these looks they stormed into a class set!

Traffic Island Castaway“ apparently was for Malcolm Owen of Ruts fame and indeed i could make out some nice references. I think compared to what i had in my head (and from that only 7″ in my collection) they had nicely speeded up things and they also had perfect the guitar play.

The Defects (Hafenklang, Hamburg, 07.09.2016) (c) gehkacken.de)

And short and speedy they did, here comes „Defective Breakdown“ from their 1983 LP:

The more they played, the better they got and growing appreciation from the small crowd came in return. They also liked the rather large amount of „The Outcasts“ T-Shirts worn by at least 5 people in the crowd, i think this is in the good old tradition of punks from Hamburg loving and adoring punk music from the fellow harbour town of Belfast.

And whilst they played a short and crisp set they also found time for another encore and another nod off to The Ruts – here is „In A Rut“ for you:

And with that they sure thing had won over the audience! As ever there is nothing better than to check out bands live – surprises are out there, still.

All in all a perfect weekday entertainment and with a Defects T-Shirt for me love in my hands i made the 2 minute stroll uphill to our new home. Priceless!