The Descendents @ Capitol
Friday, February 17 2017
The Descendents don’t particularly look like what we have come to expect a punk band to look like (especially in contrast to support act Clowns). In fact, on Friday night lead singer Milo Aukerman looked more like a middle aged city accountant. This anti-categorisation is what fans have come to love about the band and fits within punk’s very definition– making them what you might call a “true punk band”.
Hardcore punk band Clowns opened the show early on Friday night with a riotous performance that saw the crowd more than get into the mood for the headliners. In a very short set, Clowns managed to have the crowd pushing and shoving in a manic fashion with lead singer Steve Williams spurring them on every inch of the way.
Next up were the Descendents.
The Descendents are touring off the back of their most recent album Hypercaffium Spazzinate, which is a tribute to the band’s well known coffee obsession. And it seemed that they had indulged in said obsession quite heavily on Friday night.
The band took to the stage like kids before a running race, full of anxious, excited energy, Aukerman made a quick Trump jibe and then the band ripped through a raucous rendition of Working All The Time followed by no less than 10 flat out, high energy songs, including I Like Food and I’m Not God before they took a minuscule break and engaged a little with the crowd. This pattern continued throughout the show.
Silly Girl added some diversity to the set, as one of their softer songs and the change in tempo was welcome. After this – it was full throttle ahead, with Be Like You and I Like Food being particular crowd pleasers.
Aukerman’s voice is sharp and powerful, sliding seamlessly from screeching to shouting to modern style harmonies. The band was tight, impeccably timed, melodic and booming – lying somewhere between hard-core punk rock and pop punk.
The band was not overly connected with the crowd, and even momentarily forgot they were in Perth, though Aukerman did berate that being cool isn’t cool and that he was proud not to be, which pleased the fans greatly, especially the mosh pit, who he told, “you guys are really cool though”.
For many of the fans, and even the Descendents themselves, it seemed a vastly nostalgic experience, and it was great to see both the fans and the band ageing together with the music. While childish, slap-stick humour is rife through their old and new material, the newer material definitely delves into more pertinent issues – especially around ageing, religion and unconditional love – and the fans love it. Aukerman shouting in Shameless Halo, “You believe in heaven, why are you so afraid? You judge other people’s choices – You’d silence different voices,” received a spirited reaction.
Aukerman momentarily got down into the crowd during their encore performance, though he wasn’t there for long and quickly got back on stage and assumed the position he was in for most of the show – one leg on the speaker, leaning over and shouting into the stage floor.
Although the performance was full of energy and the sound was amazing, managing to keep a highly strung atmosphere throughout a staggering 34-song set, it was absent of diversity and complexity. It seemed rather clinical and over polished and perhaps lacked that perfect amount of imperfect and edge that you come to expect from a punk show.
Either way – it didn’t matter, because the room was jam-packed with diehard fans and they didn’t move from their spots or miss a word or a fist pump throughout the set. There is not much more a band or an audience could want from a live show than that.
Pics by Kye Benjamin