DESCENDENTS BONUS CUP EXTRAVAGANZA by Gary X. Indiana
Live Concert Photography by J.D. Brumback
plus samples of the new album:
And who the hell are they, newbies might ask? Only one of the most kick-ass punk bands of the early-to-mid-’80’s Southern California scene, one of the all-time classic favorites whose stupendous comeback to sellout crowds proves that their popularity didn’t wane over the years.
On the contrary, their legend continued to grow, with bands such as SUBLIME dropping Descendents covers into their sets, and continuous college radio airplay of their classic records.
The Descendents were never a bunch of hardcore jocks; rather, led by the lanky, spectacled singer Milo Aukerman, they were the nerds of punk, playing beach-pop inflected tunes about adolescence, insecurity, girls and the inevitable heartbreak, and fishing.
In sum, songs that just about anybody can like. Despite their popularity, Milo realized that the life of a rock star can’t compete with science, so he dropped out in ’82 to study biochemistry at UC San Diego while drummer Bill Stevenson hooked up with BLACK FLAG. The band re-formed in the mid-80’s and released more classic records, until Milo left in ’87 to pursue his Ph.D. Bill and the boys continued as the band ALL, while Bill also established himself as a record producer.
’96, however, was the unofficial 20th anniversary of Punk Rock, and with its resurgence still chugging along, the old heifer was being milked for every drop. Milo, apparently bitten by the punk rock bug again, returned to the fold and the Descendents recorded their brilliant Epitaph release “Everything Sucks”.
Fans proclaimed it an instantly classic Descendents record, singles (such as the title song, also “I’m The One” and “She Loves Me”) swamped radio and MTV, and the band packed clubs worldwide in the Winter and Spring.
Their show at the Trocadero last December was full to the rafters with rabid Descendents fans singing along to the tunes both old and new. Their June 2nd return was eagerly awaited, and once again it was sardine city.
Fashionably late, I arrived in time for GUTTERMOUTH, who struck me as too damn dorky. Watching the singer, I kept having these weird mental images of Buddy Hackett.
The perfect party band LESS THAN JAKE got the big E for effort, doing the ska thing with dancing horns and the whole bit while simultaneously being covered in Silly String. Of course Milo and the boys, what can I say, they were at least as great as the show in December, blasting through a slew of old and new songs, everything any Descendents fan could want to hear, only slowing along the way for their goofy ceremony of reciting the “All-o-gistics” creed, complete with commandments (“Thou shall not commit hygiene/Thou shalt not partake of the dreaded decaf” etc.) written on a duct taped scroll which was chucked into the mob afterwards.
Last time their encore included guest vocals from the guitar roadie and one of the SWINGING UTTERS; this time they topped that when they all switched instruments, Bill on guitar, Milo on bass, and a mysterious guest singer came out and out-Henryed HENRY ROLLINS on a medley of Black Flag songs (I lost it completely at that point) including “Six Pack”, “Wasted”, “Nervous Breakdown”, and “Jealous Again”. Awesome. A very, very happy crowd was left in their wake.
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