Arriving a little after 9:00 pm, I was surprised the line into the venue was still wrapped around the corner of the building. Pardon my naivete, but I didn’t know the Descendents would draw a crowd of this size. Indeed, the venue was packed with a considerably larger crowd than some of the other punk bands I had seen at Gas Monkey Live (e.g. Social Distortion, NOFX, Jerry Only’s Misfits, Bouncing Souls, others). It was a Saturday night and earlier in the afternoon there was a screening and Q&A of the Descendents documentary Filmage at the Studio Movie Grill next door to the venue. I can only imagine that some fans had already been there for 4-5 hours before I even showed up.
By the time I had made it inside the venue, I was further stunned that the line for merch was longer than the line outside the venue. I mean, the Descendents moved some fucking merch on this night. By the time I made it to the table, many shirts and patches had already sold out. It also helped that shirts were only 20 bucks, a reasonable price in comparison to some of the bullshit I’ve seen other bands charge. Scanning the crowd, I began to realize why this crowd was big. Fans young and old, male and female were out in force. There were parents with their children, teen and 20-something punks, and – of course – the 40-50-somethings you would expect from a band with a four decade long history. There were mohawks and there were Dad’s in polo shirts and shorts. There were young metalheads in Cannibal Corpse t-shirts and old punks with faded Black Flag shirts. If you can draw a crowd with this age, gender, and musical diversity, you can fill up the Gas Monkey Live.
Less Than Jake played while I waited in the merch line. I caught about 20 minutes of their set after I picked up a Descendents patch and buttons. Not really a big fan of Less Than Jake, but I have to admit they did a fine job of warming up a crowd. They had some kind of toilet-paper gun that shot TP into the crowd, a mascot/character guy who pranced around the stage, a hundred-some-odd Less Than Jake branded balloons, and plenty of extended banter/joking around between songs. They brought a party atmosphere to the show and it certainly clicked with those in attendance. Musically, the band was tight and powered through their songs, new and old, with ease.
When the Descendents took the stage, the crowd was down right gleeful. Ripping into “Everything Sux,” the band was in fine form. Singer Milo Auckerman, wearing a CamelBak under his button down shirt sounded as strong as he does on recordings from 20 years ago. Likewise, the rest of the band (guitarist Stephen Egerton, bassist Karl Alvarez, and drummer Bill Stevenson), was on fire as they blasted through 30-plus songs in their set that included two encores. The crowd was manic. The mosh pit took a little while to get going for the sheer fact that it was so crowded and not a ton of room to operate in. Nevertheless, it got going and I saw more crowd-surfing at one time than any concert I’ve been to in the recent past. At times, as many as three or four people were being tossed above the crowd as the band roared through their set.
The opening notes of nearly every song got the crowd excited. The majority of the set was pulled from 2016’s Hypercaffium Spazzinate, but there were plenty of classics from Milo Goes to College, Everything Sucks, and I Don’t Want to Grow Up, thrown into the mix. And for a band made up of two 53-year-old’s and two 54-year-old’s, they certainly didn’t perform like a bunch of old guys. Nope, they were high energy ass-kickers from first song to last. It should also be noted that each member of the band is a solid musician. It can be hard to take-in when songs are at-most 3-minutes long – frequently shorter. But, these dudes can play. Obviously, Stevenson has always been highly regarded as a first-rate drummer, but Alvarez and Egerton are no slouches. To play as fast as they do, with precision, is no easy feat. These guys were locked-in and flawless.
This show was a ton of fun. The band has a handful of scattered shows booked through early December. If they’re coming your way, be there.
– J. Kevin Lynch