TVD Live Shots: The Descendents, CJ Ramone, and Pears at Shepherd’s Bush Empire, 8/2

Punk rock royalty came to London recently via Rebellion—the world’s largest punk rock festival—in the form of The Descendents, CJ Ramone, and Pears. Having been a longtime fan of The Descendents, this would be the first time for me seeing them live. These pop-punk pioneers are one of the most significant bands of the ’80s hardcore punk movement. The band’s brand is a staple in the punk community and lead by the instantly recognizable caricature of singer Milo Aukerman which continues to be the mascot for the band since the early 1980s.

Aukerman has been called a champion of the nerds because he would land the unlikely punk rock role of a plant molecular biologist at DuPont. Or does that make it even more punk? (Remember when Johnny Rotten did the butter commercial and claimed that was the most punk thing he could do?) Although he quit his job after being relocated to Siberia for work (you really can’t make this shit up) Aukerman decided to go at it alone. There’s a spectacular interview with him where he talks about breaking free from the corporate world (“the man”) and setting out to do his own thing. I think he quickly had the realization that he could have done this much earlier on, then again as the great James Altucher says, “it’s never too late to reinvent yourself,” and that certainly applies to punk rock.

The show was packed to the fucking gills with old and new school punks alike. Hell, there were all types of people in the crowd that night which is a common sight lately with the London punk scene. (It’s always full of surprises.) The band came out guns a-blazing, blasting through their signature pop-punk setlist—and the first three songs were over before you knew it. Thank the punk gods that security let the photogs stay in for a few more minutes.

Milo and company fully evoked the spirit and energy of punk and kept it going for 90 minutes plus. How many other bands can fit 35 songs including two encores into a standard set before curfew? Not many. Pulling heavily from 2016’s Hypercaffium Spazzinate as well as the classic albums Milo Goes to College and Everything Sucks, The Descendents were in top form and never missed a beat.

Aukerman recently confirmed in an interview with the OC Register that a new album from the band is on the way. He also promises that fans won’t have to wait another decade before the next record arrives. This newfound sense of freedom seems to have opened the possibilities of more new music, much more frequently.

Opening the gig was legendary Ramones bassist CJ Ramone who cranked through a set of covers and originals including all the Ramones staples. He has said this is the final tour for him and that comes as a surprise to me after seeing how tight his band was. The real surprise of the night came in the form of the first act Pears. These guys were fucking bonkers. They reminded me of the glory days of the Dead Kennedys, but with a bit more musical ability. Either way, they blew me away.

It was a fantastic night all around. The tour continues throughout Europe so go catch this one if you can.



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