Capitol, Perth WA
February 17th, 2017
Support – Clowns
Descendents shouldn’t need an introduction to any fan of punk rock. Hell, they started out only a few years after the Ramones and are still kicking ass today. Their most recent album, Hypercaffium Spazzinate proved that the band was not only still relevant, but also that they could still write records that connected with the real life issues facing their fans. In all their years this is only the third time Descendents have been to Australia, and their second time in Perth and the crowd was absolutely ecstatic. This was going to be a fun show.
When they walk into the room, Clowns leave all of the pretentiousness of rock n roll well off stage, but they sure as hell bring the energy. This is a band that is quickly becoming one of the most popular punk acts in the country – whether you’ve heard their music on Triple J, or you’ve witnessed one of their insane live shows, you probably know who Clowns are. I’ve seen these guys play small rooms and slightly less small rooms but I’ve always wondered how it would translate to a bigger room. The answer is that it makes no fucking difference. ‘Hello, we’re Clowns, from Melbourne’ says vocalist Stevie Williams before the band jumps into their opening track and Williams launches himself into the crowd – strangling himself with the mic cable and latching onto unsuspecting punters – forcing them to sing along (whether they know the words or not). Williams spends a little time making cracks about stealing Bill Stevenson’s beers (how dare he!) before jumping into another song and setting off a violent mosh at the front of the room. Fans scream along to the anthemic choruses while Williams spins around the room like Chris Farley in the midst of a cocaine binge.
The only sour point of the set was that the sound in the room wasn’t quite as crisp as you’d like – just a slight muddiness that detracted from the frenzied sound Clowns are famous for. But it did little to hold the fans back from enjoying what was going on.Crowd control barriers aren’t one of my favourite things at shows, but watching Williams use one a launching pad for a massive scissor kick was totally bad ass and oddly satisfying – and slightly ironic as it was during Euthanise Me. Clowns finished their set with Destroy the Evidence and left the stage – leaving the crowd in a state of anticipation for what was to follow.
Descendents walk onto the stage to a huge cheer from the crowd. After a quick shout out to their ‘narcissistic president’, the band opened with the fitting Everything Sucks – which sent the crowd into a frenzy. Frontman Milo Auckerman is as unassuming as ever, and despite being in his ‘50s performs the songs with the same intensity and bratty aggression that made him infamous as a teenager. They followed up with Hope, which actually came out when Auckerman was 19 – but you wouldn’t know it given how fresh it still sounds.
They tore through their set, taking very little time to engage the crowd – but it wasn’t a bad thing. This wasn’t a band just trying to power through a night’s work. It seemed like more of a case of the band having too much fun to waste their time talking or introducing songs. And the crowd certainly didn’t seem to mind, the energy remained at ‘double-shot of espresso’ levels of crazy throughout the night. But for all of the crowd’s mania, drummer and coffee aficionado Bill Stevenson was the polar opposite – almost meditative. With every song, he enters a trance-like state. Closing his eyes and rolling his head backwards. If he wasn’t one of the most famous and influential drummers in punk you’d wonder how the hell he actually managed to play like that.
For a band that’s been going as long as Descendents, it’s impressive how well their newest songs fit in with their back catalogue. Shameless Halo and Victim of Me stand alongside Coffee Mug and Myage like they could have been from the same album. And the fans were just as happy to hear the older songs as the newer ones – and they were well-versed in the lyrics, singing along to each and every song.
After finishing their set with Thank You and Descendents, the band left the stage for a spell while the crowd screamed out the standard ‘one more song’ chant. They returned to the stage and asked if that was all we wanted ‘just one more?’ They blasted through another short set of tunes, including Sour Grapes, Feel This and, their massive hit, I’m The One. It’s only early in 2017, but this was one of the most highly anticipated gigs of the year, and Descendents truly delivered.
Revisit Dave’s chat with drummer Bill Stevenson prior to Descendents tour here
Photo Gallery courtesy Kim Anderson:
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