Live at the Uptown Theater for some legendary punkin’… Upcoming tour dates are HERE.
BY DANNY R. PHILLIPS
It had been twenty years, 4 months and 12 days since I last saw punk rock legends The Descendents live.
That day in 1997 was the typical Midwestern July: hot as fuck with no sign or hope of letting up.
I was in Lawrence, Kansas that day against doctor’s orders, being a month out from a foot surgery. Resolve and painkillers got me through the day; I would see the Descendents. As faux 1940’s swing bullshit act The Cherry Poppin’ Daddies set up to bore the main stage, The Descendents exploded on the flatbed trailer that passed for a second stage.
Frontman Milo Aukerman climbed the speaker stacks, flipped off the cops and sang with venomous conviction. Stephen Egerton attacked his Lucite body guitar like a buzzsaw, while Karl Alvarez and Bill Stevenson kept the rhythm better than any section that day. It is still, to this day, one of the single greatest performances I’ve ever witnessed.
I hated The Cherry Poppin’ Daddies with a passion but my admiration and fandom for The Descendents was solidified.
On November 3, 2017 the streak ended. I was to re-live my youth, to go back to a time before kids, grey hair, an ex-wife and stress brought worry to my door.
This night, 20 years and some change later would be slightly different. No longer was I a wide-eye fan of 22. Now, I was a wide-eyed fan of 42, with life under my belt. I’m older, wiser and thanks to my gig with Blurt Magazine, I have far better access to the action.
After picking up my credentials, I found myself backstage, chatting away with Stephen Egerton while being served coffee by Stevenson, one of my all-time favorite drummers. My life has officially become a one surreal experience after another. The Descendents had given me another memory I’ll never forget and they hadn’t even been on stage yet.
They walked onto the stage to a packed house at The Uptown, a deafening roar that threatened to bring down the rafters. As they tore into “Everything Sucks” I watched years melt away to reveal the band I saw all those years ago. As they blasted through their “hit” “I’m the One”, “Hope,” “Rotting Out,” breakneck versions of the already blistering ode to the caffeine driven life “Coffee Mug” and the gem I first heard on Pump Up the Volume “Weinersnitchel.” Twenty-five tracks in the just over 2 hour set time, memories came flooding back. With all the bad shit that has happened to me in the last few years, it was good to have a night where I had no fucks to give. It felt wonderful, if just for a night.
What I saw on this night was exactly what I saw 20 years ago. Not to say it was boring. It certainly wasn’t, in fact it was one of the best sets I’ve seen all year at one of my favorite venues. What I saw was the same virile, aggressive punk giants that I saw two decades ago; years, day jobs and kids have not slowed them, they haven’t lost a step or the obvious joy they feel in front of a room full of like minded individuals, all running on the same frequency, all drinking in the moments as if it would be the last time they’d see this spectacle of punk rock superiority.
The Descendents, 30 plus years into a storied career, are still the band they always have been: aggressive, furious, lightning quick and, above all else, a band that believes in what they’re selling and has a great time doing it.
And so, the countdown begins: it has been 8 days since I last saw The Descendents live….