Descendents – live

Shepherds Bush Empire, London
Monday 25 April

descendentsThe news of Descendents returning to the UK after 15 years was so exciting that we bought tickets as soon as the show was announced and then sat on them awaiting their return. But nobody could have prepared for what they were about to see tonight at the Shepherds Bush Empire in West London as this was the gig that should never have happened.

The band traveled through Europe playing the Groezrock Festival in Belgium and the Monster Bash in Berlin, both shows with glowing feedback on the web making the anticipation for this to be an absolute classic, but one thing they didn’t prepare for was Milo Aukerman‘s voice blowing out after these 2 shows and the band turning up to London knowing that they had to wing it.

The support bands did their warm up sets, the lights went down and the four piece walked on stage to a rapturous applause that unfortunately turned to boos within 5 songs. Kicking off with the classic track Descendents, Milo’s voicebox unfortunately sounded like he was singing in a black metal band. He woofed his way through the track clearly uncomfortable with the situation and it only took 2 more songs of pain (Hope and Silly Girl) until Aukerman smashed his mic on the stage in a fit of rage with the remains of the broken metal spraying the remains across Stephen Egerton’s face. The crowd’s energy levels and anticipation was now going through a major change as anxiety and confusion replaced the high of seeing their fave band and the atmosphere became very awkward. Knowing they had big problems, the band walked of stage to discuss what to do next and instead of pulling the show there and then they decided to improvise the set they had planned and continued with others sharing mic duty. This inevitably made this show an instant car crash which is rare to see even in punk rock these days.

A blonde haired singer from either one of the support bands or a crew member filled in to take care of vocal duties for Sour Grapes and I Don’t Wanna Grow Up but this brought boo’s from the now baying crowd who had now realised that the night was about to turn into a karaoke session instead of a Descendents gig. Everything sux tonight for many but what else could the band do other than to leave the stage? They had made their decision to play so now they had to try and get away with salvaging a nightmare. Nobody was going to win from this decision, some may say it was brave but others would say it would have been a costly mistake to pull the show. Despite all of these thoughts that were hushed in the crowd the band rolled on and you have to give them huge credit for trying.

milodescendentsMilo was not bowing out though, he came back and took care of vocals (sounding like a foghorn) for Bear, Coffee Mug and I Like Food before rolling out a grimacing version of All-o-gistics and Enjoy before another punk rock huddle of decision making brought 3 Black Flag covers into the set with Milo now playing Bass, Bill Stevenson absolutely thrashin’ on guitar and Karl Alvarez did a grand job on the vocals as he threw himself on top of the front row playing Rollins.

Thankfully, the boo’s turned to sighs. Booing bands at any gig is not exactly welcome, the same as when people boo their own team at a football match. It’s not as if these entertainers come out to deliver a bad job; everyone has their ‘off days’ but there were noticeable boo’s from a section of the 2000 crowd who had paid their money to see the Descendents and were now being treated to a cover of the classic Bloodstains by Agent Orange and a Zeke track. Out of all the guests who filled in on vocals tonight Eric Melvin from NOFX got the best reception after singing Bikeage and backed up on Coolidge. There were big smiles all round when he turned up with a mic in his hand. The show ended with Milo going through the pain barriers to sing Myage before the curtains came down to close a disastrous show for a very confused and emotional crowd.

Realistically the Descendents made the wrong decision to play the show tonight and should have gracefully accepted that it was going to be a big ask to pull off playing in front of a packed London crowd who were ecstatic about seeing them play after all these years. Due to Milo’s work commitments I guess rescheduling would not have been an option but still, the golden rule is, if you are going to come back and recapture hearts and minds that have waited that long for a show, then at least turn up and do it knowing you have a fair chance of pulling it off rather than gambling on the fact that the crowd that had paid £20 a ticket could feel Sour Grapes. But if your glass was half full at this show then you would know that tonight the Descendents were definitely, “the proud, the few” for the effort, and certainly not “rockin’ alone tonight”.


18 thoughts on “Descendents – live”

  1. what a load of bollocks….fuck it, its punk rock.
    Suddenly, in the new world, blemishes are not acceptable. “oh my god i didnt get a picture perfect Descendents moment…i want my £20 back”.
    The show must go on and it would have been deeply depressing had the band pulled the show at the last minute. What we got was chaotic but it was entertainment. I can always listen to the records to hear how its SUPPOSED to be.
    My heart goes out to the band as i know this is the last thing theyd ever have wanted but i love them even more for going through the pain to deliver whatever they could. Thank you for the memories.

  2. I believe the first fill-in was a chap from Dead to Me …

    Missed the obvious new ALL-line up joke.
    There was booing, but not that many. It was disappointment. I do respect them for carrying on, and making a full set of it, though. However, it was one of the most heartbreaking gigs I’ve ever been to.

    In many ways, I thought it quite fascinating to see a band who represent being a snotty, idiotic young punk turn into old men in front of our eyes.

    I think we punters deserve a free ALL gig…

  3. “The show must go on and it would have been deeply depressing had the band pulled the show at the last minute.”

    It was deeply embarrassing that they didn’t, judging from the reactions of those that went…

    No, what it would’ve meant was the venue and promoters would loose a huge amount of money. As long as “the band” (or should that be “a band”, whomever that maybe) play an hour, refunds are not applicable.

  4. I was at the gig and must say,i walked back to my hotel in a daze? Ive seen every uk show they’ve played over here and been a fan since ’87,I flew down from Cumbria, paid for hotel etc… and was totally gutted at what happened, but i must say, i’d have been even more sick if the show had been pulled. big respect to the band for trying their best to satisfy the fans and not let everyone down. I still cant believe it? Gutted after a 14 year wait to see them live again.

  5. Well – I’ll eat my words (a little! ;] ), in that they are cancelling tonight. Spoke to the venue 5 mins ago, and they’ve pulled it…!

  6. I thought the first stand in guy did a great job on ‘Sour grapes’…I was really pissed off when people were booing him.

    Still glad I went though…a definite ‘I was there’ moment.

  7. To be fair its the distinction between “not perfect” and just not the descendants, without Milo it wasn’t the same, I not gonna pretend I’m not bothered because I am, my mate is seriously ill and cried her eyes out knowing that she might never get to see her favorite all time band play before her time is up, it’s not the bands fault but its not the money we want, it’s to hear Milo sing and like the article rightly says, it was just not a very good plan to play a huge fest the night before because I bet he had to scream.

  8. I am so gutted (im jjatw’s crying friend) tbf the cider i drank all day may not have helped control my emotions.

    I had to walk out i couldn’t watch people deserve a proper apology and a gig to make it up.. only consolation is i have tickets for leeds festival but that wont be the same as a headline show. The people there yesterday were all there for the same reason everyone was like minded and there was so many good times in the park opposite the venue it was such a downer on a excellent day.

    Its understandable people get sick i sing myself and ive had a episode where i lost my voice and it is hard but i would have rather it have been cancelled gone back the park got more pissed and had a giant game of punk rock football!

    I think the least we deserve is another gig, milo has work commitments but we all had to take time off work etc to travel to see them they need to sort it out… but seeing eric melvin sing bikage (i kinda like that i seen that)

  9. people came from half of europe to see the descendents (at least from italy and spain i know) if the show had been cancelled it would have been shit. I wasn’t there unfortunatly but i wouldn’t have been that angry.
    The descendants are great and stil make great records but they can’t be the same live hc band from 20 years ago… as fare as the voi goes… it happens. it’s a shame but it happens. If the band kicked ass (which apparently it didn’t) the kids would of had fun even with the guest singers. I certainly would of been happy to see kids on stage singing.
    ANyway i heard the didn’t play too well in belgium either…whatever….
    Anyway i love their music so much that i would of had fun anyway singing and dancing in front of the stage.

  10. Geen verplichtingen
    laat me vrij

    Laat me gaan
    laat me vliegen
    geef me ruimte

    Geen vastigheid
    blijf spontaan

    Doe je ding
    ontmoet me
    bij toeval en
    ga vervolgens je eigen weg

    Geen afspraken
    lang leve de lol

    Leve de lol van ons samen;
    leve de lol van vrij zijn;
    leve de eigen keuzes;
    leve de wereld
    ..waarin ik je stiekem heel erg mis?

    – [Coole Boy] –

  11. It was interesting to say the least!

    I’m seeing them at Reading so that makes up for not hearing Milo as much as I would have liked, but hearing Eric Melvin join the Descendents was worth it in my book.

  12. I think I would also enjoy the gig even if Milo lost his voice. And I think that it is really pathetic if the crowd goes booing if something is wrong with the band. Come on, they are trying their best so stop whining! Btw, seeing guys from other bands makes it even more memorable in my opinion (
    Anyways, I saw them in Belgium and that was probably the best gig I have ever seen! I expected a lot from them but damn, this was really awesome! I am so glad I got the chance to see them live and I really hope that Milo’s voice will get better such that others can also enjoy them live.

  13. That’s really unfortunate. I hope everybody gets the chance to see them again. I have to admit though, I would pay quite a bit of money to see Bill, Karl, and Stephen play ALL & Descendents tunes even if it was instrumental. When ALL played Riot Fest in ’08 their set got cut short due to curfew and they shut the PA off on them, and it just turned into a crowd sing along, which was equally as enjoyable.

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