Descendents

support Forever Unclean + Steve & The Alcoholics
author PP date 09/08/19 venue Kulturbolaget, Malmö, SWE

KB has done it again! In a series of high-profile punk rock bookings over the past couple of years, it certainly feels like someone at the venue is going through a checklist of his or her favorite punk rock bands and booking them one-by-one to KB when their tour plans so allow. Think about it: we've had Bad Religion, Alkaline Trio, Against Me!, Jimmy Eat World, Rise Against, and Satanic Surfers among others with a great turnout to all of them. Tonight, the series gets another highlight-reel addition in the form of punk rock legends Descendents, so you wonder whether NOFX or Rancid will be next?

All photos courtesy of Grant M. Purdy

Steve & The Alcoholics

Steve & The Alcoholics

Steve & The Alcoholics are the perfect opening band to fit in with tonight's theme. They play tight, humor-laden, breakneck speed skate punk in the vein of bands like Belvedere and This Is A Standoff, with a few nods towards Propagandhi's technical riffage as well. What's more, they add in classic Swedish skate punk flavor in the form of stop/start riffs that recall Adhesive or No Fun At All. With a lightning speed tempo, many songs run just a short 30-40 seconds at a time, and they manage to squeeze in a (mediocre) cover of The Offspring's "Genocide" as well. The sound is a bit flat early on, but at least there's a decent turnout and a sizable portion of the audience seems familiar with their songs; there are even a couple of small sing-alongs during their set. It's a solid, tight showing of skate punk that's only deterred by the sub-optimal sound removing some oomph from the guitars and leaving the mix a little bit rough. Great songs, though, especially if you're into the golden 90s-era of punk rock.

7

Forever Unclean

Forever Unclean

What an opportunity for the hard-working Danish punk rockers in Forever Unclean, having been hand-picked to be the main support for the Descendents here in Malmö. Taking full advantage of the opportunity of a new crowd (despite half of them being from the Danish scene), they open with a brand new song that sounds entirely different from the rest of their back catalog, drawing heavily from The Menzingers/Modern Baseball school of songwriting. Quite peculiar and interesting to see where this approach will go in the future. They then morph straight into "Woof" from their fantastic "Woof" EP and back we are with roughened, melodic punk rock like we've grown to know from these guys. And by the time we reach "Dinosaur", we have a surprisingly large portion of the audience singing along to the "nothing at all, nothing at all, come on and race me to the bottom" portions. "Worthless", the song that features a brief Menzingers style a capella section in the middle, likewise gets a much bigger sing-along than I think anyone -- including the band themselves, by the looks on their faces -- was expecting here on the other side of the Øresund bridge. "Waves" later is also excellent despite technical difficulties with the guitar, and overall Forever Unclean look extremely solid on a bigger stage, this time supported both by a loyal Danish fan base but also receiving an impressive cheer from the Swedish audience as well.

Descendents

Descendents

Last time I saw Descendents was at Roskilde Festival last year on the Avalon stage. A sizable audience was present but given the profile of the festival, only a small minority seemed to know the band at all, so the set was totally flat and rather uninspiring. Tonight's experience is like the polar opposite of that showing: KB is packed with Descendents fans and it looks like the band came to play with a renewed, revitalized sense of urgency. They start immediately with a quadruple string of hit songs after another, where "Suburban Home" opens the pit immediately, "Everything Sux" draws anthemic sing-alongs, followed by "Hope" and "On Paper" doing pretty much exactly the same. The pit looks intense as hell, sweaty and like we're back in the 80s or 90s when punk rock of this type was at its absolute highest popularity. "Victim of Me" likewise incites a mass sing-along from the crowd, and at this point, the show is already miles better than the Roskilde show. The sound is perfect, the energy in the crowd is palpable, and on stage, the band looks more alive than any other time I remember seeing them.

Descendents

Milo makes multiple trips to the front rows to offer sing-along opportunities to fans upfront, even throwing himself into the crowd with a rare stage dive towards the end of the set, an impressive feat no less from the 56-year old (the crowd roar afterward is appropriately enormous)! In between, the band sandwich classics like "Silly Girl", "'Merican", "Van", "Clean Sheets" and many others (including ALL songs in Descendents sets is always welcome) in a high-speed rally of fan-favorites. Thirty minutes in, they've raced through 18 songs, and the pit action refuses to slow down. The atmosphere in the venue is simply awe-inspiring: huge sing-alongs to pretty much every song, people going over the barrier to attempt to stage dive (the stage dive during "Coolidge" is insane), circle and mosh pits throughout... this is how club-like punk shows used to look like back in the day, I'm sure.

Descendents

Meanwhile, Descendents continues to fire on all cylinders. Milo pauses to rant for a brief second but then decides otherwise as "Who We Are" is, apparently, the rant, given the songs political commentary and praise for democratic ideals. For "Coffee Mug", he brings out a giant, head-sized mug that's imprinted "MUG! MUG! MUG!" on it. But that's about it for any gimmicks: tonight is about solid punk rock classics through and through. It's great to see "Without Love" and other new songs from the latest album "Hypercaffium Sazzinate" appearing on seemingly even-footing with the two and three-decade-old classics from their back catalog, a sign of consistency and quality that Descendents have been known for throughout their career.

Setlist:

  • 1. Suburban Home
  • 2. Everything Sux
  • 3. Hope
  • 4. On Paper
  • 5. [unknown]
  • 6. Rotting Out
  • 7. Victim of Me
  • 8. Silly Girl
  • 9. I Like Food
  • 10. 'Merican
  • 11. Van
  • 12. I'm Not a Punk
  • 13. Clean Sheets
  • 14. [unknown]
  • 15. Who We Are
  • 16. Global Probing
  • 17. I Don't Want to Grow Up
  • 18. Without Love
  • 19. Nothing With You
  • 20. No Fat Burger
  • 21. Feel This
  • 22. Coffee Mug
  • 23. When I Get Old
  • 24. Coolidge
  • 25. Thank You
  • 26. Descendents

— Encore —

  • 27. Pep Talk
  • 28. Bikeage
  • 29. I'm the One

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