Descendents at No Sleep Til festivals, Australia – Gig review and photos from Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane

January 3, 2011
By

Gig/Concert: Descendents
Venue: No Sleep Til… festival (Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane)
Date: 17, 18 and 19 December 2010
Headliners: Descendents
In one word: ALL!

After over a decade of not touring and 7 years since their last studio album, punk rock pioneers Descendents finally made their way down under for their first ever Australian tour as part of the inaugural No Sleep Til… festival. Music Vice contributor Steve Pass travelled with the band on their 3 day journey and recalls the following.

No Sleep Til MELBOURNE

Following a fun, goofy set from Californian skate-punk icons NOFX, the sadly less than capacity Melbourne crowd waited in giddy anticipation for the first sight of nerd-core icon Milo Aukerman and his band of lightning fast players. Humbly setting up their own equipment, guitarist Stephen Egerton and bassist Karl Alverez gave not even a nod or wink to the crowd until it was time for the lights to dim and they re-entered the stage, joined by Aukerman and drummer Bill Stevenson.

Kicking off with their theme-song, “Descendents”, the band were as tight as could be; no mean feat given they only ‘rehearsal’ they had all participated in was a fortnight earlier headlining Austin, Texas’ Fun Fun Fun Fest, due to the band members now living in different cities and states.

Aukerman was ever the showman, with his trademark ‘one hand on the mic, one hand gripping his pants’ singing position and large-format reproduction of the Bassmaster General’s commandments to wave about during “All-o-Gistics” (think Moses’ tablets from God).

Proceeding through their set, the band played a “greatest hits”, featuring a number of songs from their most recent album, Cool To Be You, which was never toured; as well as classics from Milo Goes to College and Everything Sucks. After finishing with perhaps their most iconic song, “I’m Not a Loser”, the band left the stage amid demands for an encore from both the crowd and side-of-stage alike. Sadly, they were informed by the promoters that a $20,000 fine would be levied against the festival if they ran late, due to a noise curfew. Upon hearing of this, NOFX’s Fat Mike took to the mic, pledging $5,000 to the cause. Similarly, Frenzal Rhomb’s Lindsay McDougall made a pledge for the same amount, and Alkaline Trio’s Matt Skiba committed $1,000. After all of the carry on and commotion, the promoter threw his hands up and the band returned to treat the audience to a flawless rendition of “Bikeage”. The most expensive two minute song ever? Perhaps.

Sleep? No SLEEP!

No Sleep Til SYDNEY

After a morning wake-up call and flight, and an all-too-slow hotel check-in, it was time to head down to Sydney’s Hordon Pavilion to witness show two of the tour. Following from Me First and the Gimme Gimmes (who had different matching Hawaiian shirts for each stage of the tour), Frenzal Rhomb, Dropkick Murphys, and NOFX on the in-door red stage, Descendents returned to treat Sydney’s capacity crowd to what was probably the best performed set of the tour (though due to the Hordon’s airplane-hanger like construction, not the best sounding).

Tearing through such classics as “I’m The One”, “Clean Sheets”, “Myage” and “Catalina”, the crowd ate up every second of Stevenson’s lightning fast drumming and Alvarez’ astonishingly good finger-picked bass playing.

Timing their set a little better this time, the band once again ended their set proper with “I’m Not a Loser”, returning after a brief breather to squeeze in three more songs, including the rarely played “Kabuki Girl”.

Now, to not get any sleep until…

No Sleep Til BRISBANE

Brisbane, Queensland. The Sunshine State. Beautiful one day, perfect the next. Or so they say. Well, on this day, the sunshine was hidden by the thickest rain-clouds this side of Noah’s flood which treated all in attendance to a 10 hour long shower. As uncomfortable as this sounds, the amusement of seeing goth/metal kids with running corpse-paint and soaked cigarette packets was some solace.

As this was the final show of the tour, side of stage was almost as full as the mosh pit, with every roadie and his dog present to witness what may well be the final Descendents show to take place in this country (though of course promises to return soon were made by the band). Then, as per the last two nights, the lights dimmed. Alvarez, Egerton and Stevenson manned their instruments. Cymbals were checked, amps were turned up, crowd was greeted. Aukerman then made his entry to thunderous cheers, grabbed the mic and screamed “H–….”. Shit. Milo’s voice was non-existent. Not even one syllable. After battling through “Descendents”, it was decided that further to Alvarez’ vocal mic, Stevenson and Egerton would also need to do some singing, much to the latter’s reservations while handling lead vocal duties for “Everything Sux”, while Stevenson declared that “I Like Food” fell within his domain.

To help with vocals, the band invited pretty much every singer on the tour to perform a song, including Frenzal Rhomb’s Jay Whalley and Tom Crease, Dropkick Murphys’ Al Barr, NOFX’s Fat Mike, Alkaline Trio’s Matt Skiba and Derek Grant and Descendents road manager Jason Allen, with Aukerman all the while running up and down the crowd barricade encourage those in the front row to sing along as well, lending assistance where possible.

Returning to thank the crowd for their patience with the weather and the obvious on-stage issues, the band treated the thousand or so soaked Brisbanites in attendance to the stuff of legends: After completing a full instrument swap (Stephen Egerton on drums, Milo Aukerman on bass, Bill Stephenson on guitar and Karl Alvarez on lead vocals), the band ran through their renditions of Black Flag’s “Nervous Breakdown” and “Jealous Again” (for those unfamiliar with either band’s history, Black Flag featured Bill Stevenson on drums from 1983 – 1985 while Milo went to college). With Alvarez going into complete rock-star mode, climbing into the crowd, on top of speakers, onto the drum riser and back to front of stage; this was the perfect ending to both the Brisbane show and the tour as a whole.

Now, finally, we could all get some sleep. Zzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

© Steve Pass, Music Vice

SETLISTS

Melbourne

Descendents
Coolidge
I Don’t Wanna Be A Bear
Rotting Out
Nothing With You
Coffee Mug
Hope
Sour Grapes
My Dad Sucks
She Don’t Care
Myage
All-o-Gistics
I’m The One
Talking
I Don’t Want to Grow Up
I Like Food
Cheer
When I Get Old
Suburban Home
Silly Girl
Everything Sucks
Clean Sheets (scrapped)
Pervert
Get The Time (scratched)
Weinerschnitzel
Thank You
I’m Not A Loser
Bikeage (encore)

Sydney

Descendents
Hope
I’m The One
Nothing With You
Everything Sucks
Clean Sheets
My Dad Sucks
Talking
Rotting Out
All-o-Gistics
I Wanna Be A Bear
Silly Girl
I Don’t Want to Grow Up
When I Get Old
Suburban Home
Sour Grapes
Myage
Get The Time
I Like Food
Van
Coffee Mug
Catalina
Weinerschnitzel
Thank You
I’m Not a Loser
Bikeage (encore)
Kabuki Girl (encore)
Coolidge (encore)

Brisbane

(Note: due to the chaotic nature of the Brisbane show, the setlist was not adhered to and as such a complete representation is not possible. The following are merely a sample of the songs played with guest vocalists in parentheses)

Descendents (Milo Aukerman)
Everything Sucks (Stephen Egerton, Tom Crease, Jay Whalley)
Rotting Out (Tom Crease, Jay Whalley)
Clean Sheets (unkown)
Nothing With You (Milo Aukerman, Karl Alvarez)
I’m The One (Milo Aukerman)
Silly Girl (Drek Grant, Karl Alvarez, Eric Melvin)
Suburban Home (Fat Mike, Karl Alvarez)
I Want to Be a Bear (Fat Mike, Karl Alvarez, Milo Aukerman)
I Like Food (Bill Stevenson)
Sour Grapes (Matt Skiba)
I’m Not A Loser (Al Barr, Matt Skiba)
Nervous Breakdown (encore)
Jealous Again (encore)

Music Vice thanks Jason Allen, Stephen Egerton and Blue Murder Touring for their assistance in our coverage of the No Sleep Til festival.

Related links:
Descendents – Official Website

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One Response to Descendents at No Sleep Til festivals, Australia – Gig review and photos from Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane

  1. Remy casillas on January 9, 2011 at 1:34 pm

    I think my youtube video might show how it went down at the festival. Also, Matt Skiba sang clean sheets.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_e17rO-464M

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