The Descendents – The O2 Shepherds Bush

By Andy

The O2 Shepherds Bush (well, the Empire to you and me) was full to bursting point from pretty early on tonight. Punktastc has witnessed many sold-out shows here before, but tonight seemed, strangely, to be busier than any in memory, which reflected the anticipation that most people had about seeing The Descendents for the first time since dinosaurs ruled the earth.

Up first were TEENAGE BOTTLEROCKET [3.5/5], who have been quickly and quietly acquiring a vast fanbase among people who yearn for the good old days when pop punk meant 1,2,3,4 punk and it was done free of pretension. TBR were tight, energetic and on it this evening, playing mostly to a crowd who didn?t know their stuff. The sound let them down, but you can see why they are one of the few old-school pop punk sounding bands people really believe in right now.

Next up were DEAD TO ME [3/5], a band who have changed dramatically since Punktastic last witnessed them, with a completely different line-up and bassist Chicken these days taking on more main vocal duties. They still have the same intensity as they always did, but it was definitely a bit of a culture shock to hear the old vocal lines (penned by ex-singer and former One Man Army singer Jack Dalrymple) sung very differently. Noticeable too that they open and end on old ?Cuban Ballerina? tracks that still stand out in the set. They do offer up an intensity that not many bands do, covering the vast stage tonight like it was a small club show.

The feeling of suspense and a weird apathy among some in the crowd towards the first two acts only served to illustrate the sheer anticipation in the minds of almost everyone for the entrance of THE DESCENDENTS [2/5]. What came after was not what anyone expected. It became apparent from a few seconds in ? and definitely midway through second track ?Hope? – that Milo?s voice was completely and utterly dead. The band seemed a little confused by what to do, and after Milo walked off (smashing the mic on the stage several times and seeing it bounce back and hit guitarist Steve), Bill informed the crowd that they would have to be the voice of the band tonight because Milo had ?blown his last night?. The rest of the set straddled the lines between interesting, creative, lacklustre, lazy and cabaret. The Dead To Me guitarist covered a couple of tracks on main vocals (a nice version of ?Suburban Home?) and Eric Melvin appeared on stage to sing ?Bikeage?. The rest of the set alternated between band members swapping instruments and pulling out any song they all knew, Milo limping out to shout a quick version of ?Wienerschnitzel? or ?Coffee Mug?, and Karl singing what he could. There were a couple of Black Flag covers thrown in, a nice cover of Agent Orange?s ?Bloodstains?, but all in all, it was a strangely bemusing experience. It?s hard to blame the band ? these things happen ? but they were definitely ill-prepared to deal with it and looked like lost children a lot of the time.

All in all, tonight was a real shame. Not a single track from ?Cool To Be You? and only 19 seconds of ?Everything Sucks? ? an album that shaped the childhoods of many punks ? probably because no one else could sing any of it. They could have probably handled the whole thing a little better, but at least no one who witnessed the set will forget it in a hurry.