… Heidi ain’t no headcase, Heidi loves them horses!

Alex Wonk loves them firsts … last year he was just about the first visiting foreign musician with an acoustic set for the Solidary Punk Rock Days at the Knust. This time round Wonk Unit must have been just about the first touring band from the UK hitting Hamburg under the revised post-Brexit scheme recently published.

So Alex and his revised band hit the road, the ferry … and had their first breakdown in Belgium. One Van down, and barely making it to Cologne for the first show. Next day they set sail to Hamburg, only to break down again around Osnabrück. Two vans down they left two Wonkies back there and Alex and the Bass Player took the train to Hamburg … arriving just in time for this rather intimate show at the Monkeys in Exile, aka the beer garden of the Indra Club.

They where quite done after too much travel and way too much hassle and for a start they took it mellow, soft and with not too much stretch on Alex vocal chords.

That’s “Horses“, sure an all time favorite and a specific favorite of Heidi. You don’t know Heidi? Spare that question for later.

The longer it got, the better the two grooved in, the more chatty Alex got and the more he started to actually stress his vocals chords. And from then on it was a perfect set: The rather low-fi acoustic (though electrified through a small P.A.) music was paired with harsh, angry and sometime screaming vocals. A near perfect clash, a near perfect contrast.

The about 50 good folks where happy, enjoyed the banter and hopefully took note when Alex did divert the story line to rather serious items: Be it his deep dive into drugs or be it his recent struggles around is small daughter. That part was actual really hard and chatting to him after the show i realized how hard the ordeal around it has hit and continues to hit him.

Wonk Unit Acoustic (Monkeys in Exile, Hamburg, 19.08.2021 (c) gehkacken.de 2021)

As ever, they have friends in Hamburg and these friends gave them and Alex specifically an uplift. It felt just like a bit of a living room show with friends all around. I was actually happy that i did let go Arrested Denial and Berlin Blackouts a couple of 100 meters down the road at the Molotow for this lovely evening the intimate setting was much better.

After the show Riebe revealed to Alex that his daughter Heidi actually wanted to sing “Horses” with him but being too young she was not allowed out and into the club. Hearing this and having a big heart for little girls Alex immediately did a special redemption for Heidi:

I bet you Heidi was the happiest girl in Eidelstedt next morning!

Looking at Alex you can actually see that they where done, so quickly they hit off into the Monkeys band apartment to hit a long sleep and to prepare for next day travel, via Osnabrück to pick up the rest of the troupe and  all the way to Karlsruhe. Erratic tour planning anyone? At least i could see from the internet (damn internet, never forgets) that they arrived in full and took the stage as 4 piece. Perfect.

And, if not mistaken, the show was recorded in quality and Alex was also quite happy with how it went – so it may be put to Vinyl as a Wonk Unit Acoustic Album. 

Let’s see and let’s pray that soon we get a conscious decision from our local government about revised Covid rules for Clubs and indoor shows and we can enjoy such fun more packed, much closer and without masks. I am all in for 2G to make that happen and i am all in for Wonk Unit as a full band to come back to Hamburg for a big raunchy party.

Hit the road Alex, hit the road!

PS; You don’t know Heidi the headcase? Listen up youth…

Heidi is a headcase, a rebel and a rouser
Cranks up her Rickenbacker
Blasts away for hours
What’s she doin’ now on the escalator
Snorting up some speed on the picture of or Stiv Bators
What ‘cha doin’?
When I look into her big brown eyes
I’m so glad to know she’s mine
My little headcase, yeah
Ooh, ooh, yeah, my little headcase, yeah
Ooh, ooh, yeah

… 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.

… love at first sight: Hamburg, Dirt Box Disco and Wonk Unit. And now all beer is gone from the Monkeys!

That was a perfect setting: A Friday, two bands who are favourites of the Hamburg Blackpool pilgrims and the outlook of a fun evening at one of the fun places in Hamburg.

The Monkeys should have been sold out but wasn’t, but that did not stop the good vibes: everybody had space and everybody had like half of the audience as buddies and knew the rest from sight. It was to be an evening of friends and with friends and and evening of thirst. Thirst for beer, thirst for booze and thirst for good entertainment. And entertainment the lot got, a lot!

First on Wonk Unit, a band that has been the talk of town recently and that people, who saw them live, described as “killer”. So many people where eager and i guess to much surprise of the band (and me) a lot of people where able to sing-a-long to Wonk Unit.

Wonk Unit (Monkeys Music Club, Hamburg, 20.10.2017) (c) gehkacken.de)

From the first chord onward it was pure fun with loads of interaction between band and audience. I would not dare to push a singular label on them – they are very versatile and they do so much more than just clean cut fun punk fucking rock. In essence i think they distilled a very tight UK “we are the lads” sound that branches out into other spaces too (for the sake of having a laugh and having a say).

Here is on of their beauties, their ode to Lewisham:

Wok Unit took the lot by storm and the lot was dancing, singing and smiling. A lot of smiling actually. The moments i liked best where when the singer moved left and pushed the rather shy guitar player into the middle and to the front. First he did not like it but later he started to smile too.

Wonk Unit Appreciation (Monkeys Music Club, Hamburg, 20.10.2017 (c) gehkacken.de)
Wonk Unit Appreciation (Monkeys Music Club, Hamburg, 20.10.2017 (c) gehkacken.de)

Sold, and i am god damn sold on Wonk Unit too. And a band that sells T-Shirts with “I love my vagina” for sure needs all the love (’cause they won’t sell a lot of T-Shirts). I’d say they can come back whenever they want, Hamburg will have the red carpet rolled out for them. And some more.

More beer, more chats and bang the first chords from the stage – Dirt Box Disco took the brand new stage of the Monkeys with only a short changeover and they knew they where up to even more love and appreciation by the lot.

Dirt Box Disco (Monkeys Music Club, Hamburg, 20.10.2017) (c) gehkacken.de)

For me it was a wee bit special, the last time they graced the Monkeys i was only a couple of miles away but in hospital, due to an emergency gall bladder removal. And thus missed them, dearly actually, though i was flying high on heavy painkillers and thus only had little bad feelings about missing them. But those who came by the hospital later told of a raunchy show and great fun.

Whilst back then my life was shit (for a split second) theirs forever is … fun:

And that fun down from the stage was echoed as every single song was a sing-a-long for the Hamburg lot, most of them Blackpool Pilgrim and thus Dirt Box connoisseurs for quite some time.

And in every single break it was the Hamburg lot who gave a loud and cheerful hooray to this Dirt Box Day until finally the band gave in and recorded it, so that they could wank to it back home. And in return gave the thirsty lot the final steer of the evening – to get fuckin’ wasted:

And boy, i live to tell you, the lot got wasted later on!

But for now the lot stayed in front of the stage, fists in the air, dancing, singing and having a fun time. When it comes to good clean fun then Dirt Box Disco are right there, fuelling your energy and bringing on that one smile that cements itself right in yer face.

Dirt Box Disco Appreciation (Monkeys Music Club, Hamburg, 20.10.2017 (c) gehkacken.de)
Dirt Box Disco Appreciation (Monkeys Music Club, Hamburg, 20.10.2017 (c) gehkacken.de)

Finally it was time to end the set and the set was ended with the lot on stage and getting a full return of the appreciation – it was fucking Dirt Box Day:

Great stuff and frank i even liked Wonk Unit better simply because they paired the great British loudmouth attitude with so much more variable sound whereas Dirt Boy Disco,  at least to my ears, came across well polished and more on a singular sound. But that is complaining on a very very high level and almost feels like being a stupid bum.

It was fun and it took off into the wee of the morning. I was home at 02:00 and knackered (and hungover next day) but the lot drained all liquid (and everything looking like liquid) from the club. The Monkeys crew had to do a thorough clean up on Saturday and had to replenish all beer stocks.

Legend has it that both band have now been contracted as house bands, so the fun will continue. Thanks to all there – that was a killer night!