Like most punk bands from the 80’s, the Descendents did not gain mass appeal until after the fact. Milo went to college, punk broke, and it wasn’t until the pop punk bands of the mid-90’s took over the charts that bands like the Descendents were catapulted to iconic levels. So it’s not surprising that a band who once claimed to not be able to sell out a phone booth can now pack 3,000 sweaty heads into the Fillmore Auditorium. The fact that this band rarely plays live had people flying in from around the country to witness Descendents return to Colorado, and after last night’s performance I doubt anyone is flying home disappointed.
Milo Aukerman is not your typical punk rocker. The man turned 49 years old on New Years Day and is an accomplished chemist who holds a doctorate in biochemistry from UCSD. But don’t let those glasses and grey hair fool you, Aukerman has no problem regressing into that SoCal kid who brags about extreme flatulence and masturbating in a van. What might seem silly or immature to those who did not grow up on Descendents’ slightly uneven discography, acts as a machine to simpler times for the rest of us. Admittedly late to the game, I did not discover Milo and his crew of misfits until I moved to San Diego in ’94. By that time the band was pretty much history and ALL was the closest thing we had to a live experience. So Somery became my Descendents bible — a greatest hit collection spanning their too short career. Somery became the soundtrack to many a SoCal summer, and a live Descendents show topped of my list of missed opportunities. It wasn’t until 2010 when Devo had to pull out of the headlining slot at Fun Fun Fun fest that I finally got my opportunity to see one of my favorite bands. Descendents filled that Sunday night slot and it was all I hoped it would be. Milo and Bill were joined by Karl and Steven and it was like no time had passed since I first heard the mighty words “No! All!“
That night in Austin was an experience I will never forget and last night at the Fillmore lived up to the expectations set back in 2010. The band was introduced by Magic Cyclops just after 10:00pm. The crowd had been warmed up by Florida’s Hot Water Music and were ready for Descendents like a hungry pack of hyenas. Right after Milo informed us that the show was being filmed (for a something call Filmage, of course), the pit opened up as chaos reigned. “Descendents” from 1985’s I Don’t Want To Grow Up set the tone for the night. “We’re the proud, the few, Descendents rockin’ alone tonight” But they were not alone!
I lasted 30 minutes in the front rows, bouncing back and forth between the aging punks and the(ir) children. With “Hope” (one of my favorites), “I Don’t Want To Grow Up”, “My Dad Sucks” and the classic short bursts of “Weinerschnitzel” and “No! All!” I was 17 again and in a zone — nothing could hurt me — until something did. Getting kicked in the face by a crowd surfer, getting hit in the back so hard that my head rocked into the person in front of me, and falling on my back into the swirling pit behind me might be something I could shrug off when I really was 17, but at 34, thoughts of serious damage leaked into my subconscious, so during the “All-O-Gistics” skit (where kids were brought out to read the commandments), I made my way to a safer, more stable viewpoint that had the advantage of not smelling like rotten eggs.
The second half of the set proved a good mixture of the punk classics like “I Like Food”, “I Wanna Be a Bear”, “Coffee Mug” and “Suburban Home” with the more ‘pop’ oriented “Silly Girl”, “When I Get Old, “Get the Time” and “Coolidge”. The main set closed with a slightly edited “I’m Not a Loser” — an older, more politically correct Milo changing the word ‘homo’ to ‘disco’ — suggesting he thinks disco is gay?
Less than a minute later I reclaimed my spot among the smelly masses as the band came back for the first encore. “Sour Grapes” led into my all-time favorite, “Bikeage” — a song I couldn’t help but sing along with, maybe even louder than Milo, and for that I apologize to those around me. “Thank You” seemed an appropriate way to end the night, but a second encore was in store. Warning us that they only had ‘old ones left‘, but then considering that ‘even the new ones are old‘, the night ended (a little abruptly) with “Catalina” and “Kabuki Girl”. One hour. 30 songs. The Descendents were done for the night. And what a night it was!
* watch video at your own risk, you might get motion sickness. it was a little rough up there.
I Don’t Want to Grow Up
Nothing With You
My Dad Sucks
I Like Food
I’m the One
I Wanna Be a Bear
When I Get Old
Get the Time
I’m Not a Loser