When it comes to punk rock music, there are a handful of names that are synonymous with the genre. Bands such as the Ramones, Black Flag, and Bad Religion are names that immediately bring to mind thoughts of small, packed clubs, politically relevant music and anthems of rebellion. While many of the original guards of punk rock have dissolved or passed on, a handful are still around. One of those bands is the legendary Manhattan Beach group the Descendents.
Formed in 1977 the Descendents released one of punk rock’s seminal albums, 1982’s “Milo Goes to College.” The record changed the landscape of punk rock in the US and would eventually be a major influence to the skate punk and pop punk movements, paving the way for bands such as NOFX, Green Day, and Blink 182.
Perhaps one of the most “punk rock” things about the Descendents has always been their reluctance to fame. After release four furious punk rock albums in the 1980’s the band has spent the better part of the next three decades on and off hiatus, ultimately releasing only two albums between 1988 and 2015.
Frontman Milo Aukerman has historically spent more of his time focused on his ‘day job’ as a biochemist. But everything changed in 2016, in May the band announced the release of their seventh studio album, “Hypercaffium Spazzinate” and shortly before the release of the album, Aukerman announced he was giving up his career as a scientist to focus full time on the band. While it’s impossible to say exactly how big the Descendents may have become had they maintained a consistent presence, the simple fact that even with their limited activity, they have remained one of the most iconic bands in the punk rock genre is a testament to just how much influence their music has had on punk rock.
With a new album and a new full time focus on music, the Descendents have hit the road in 2016, to tour in support of “Hypercaffium Spazzinate” Recently, the tour came to Royale in Boston, MA for a show that had become one of the hottest tickets in town in a city packed with great shows. By the time the Descendents took the stage for their headline set, the room was packed from side to side. The band came out and in true punk rock fashion, began their show with a political statement, reminding fans to go out and vote so that they won’t have to wake up the day after election day to find “Everything Sux” and launched into their set.
From there on, it was mostly business for the Descendents, ripping through a 34 song nearly two hour set, stopping only rarely to tell a story or an off the cuff joke. They played tracks like “I’m the One,”“Rotting Out,” and “Clean Sheets” from their deeper catalog and of course, giving the crowd what they wanted most, plenty from that legendary debut album including “I Wanna Be a Bear,”“Myage,” and “Suburban Home.” After playing 29 songs for their main set, The Descendents returned, not once, but twice, for two encores with songs including “Catalina” and “Spineless and Scarlet Red.”
For many in the audience the night was a chance to relive their younger years, and the nostalgia of seeing the Descendents in their prime. For the younger ones in the crowd it was a chance to witness punk rock legends doing what they do best, with a new album out and a band now fully dedicated to playing music, the Descendents are setting themselves up to grow into full time legend status even outside of the punk rock world.