I’m going to abandon most rules of journalistic integrity for this particular review, because it’s about one of the most influential bands in the history of our scene and what can I say…I’m a bit of a fanboy. Given the somewhat part-time nature of the band since their third (forth??) reformation a few years back, I’ll honestly say that I was a bit more excited when I thought I’d be when news of their eighth studio album, Hypercaffium Spazzinate (Epitaph Records), broke earlier this year. Still, I was a tad reluctant to think that the band would A) hit the road with any regularity and B) would actually trek to the New England area for the first real time in close to two decades (save for a free, Converse-sponsored show they played in Cambridge last year).
And yet, just prior to Hypercaffium‘s release came news of a few dozen US tour dates that would find the legendary quartet taking up residence at the 1000 capacity Royale nightclub in Boston. It may be just urban legend, but it seems fairly accurate that once tickets when on sale, they sold out in mere minutes, a testament to just how important the band and its legacy remain as we have passed the 35 year mark since the inimitable Milo Aukerman joined up with Bill Stevenson, Frank Navetta and Tony Lombardo to lay the groundwork for one of the most influential sounds of the last two or three generations.
To say that the band lived up to the expectations bestowed upon them is more than an understatement. From the moment that the band took the stage and ripped in to the opening notes of “Everything Sux,” little doubt was left as to just why this event was such a big deal. Anchored by the lock tight rhythm section of Stevenson and Karl Alvarez, the band plowed full bore through a setlist that crammed twenty-nine songs into a main set that lasted a little more than an hour. If Stevenson and Alvarez function as the gas pedal that keeps the band charging forward, guitarist Stephen Egerton serves as its super-charged engine, his trademark Music Man Stingray providing the rapid-fire riff springboard. And there’s of course very little to say about Aukerman that hasn’t been said. While he took the stage imploring the audience to refrain from voting for a certain orange-faced Presidential candidate, he did little else in the way of between-song banter, letting the classic music speak for itself.
And speak for itself the music did. The eight songs Hypercaffium Spazzinate songs that appeared in the set (34 songs, including not one but two encores) not only fit right in alongside the half-dozen songs from Everything Sucks and Milo Goes To College, but they seemed to illicit just as energetic a response from the crowd that seemed to have three generations represented (including a totally awesome teal-haired seven-year-old who hung out in the photo pit and hung on every word). With any luck, it won’t take nearly two decades to convince one of the founding bands of this very scene to return to the area! (Editor’s note: yes, I know that’s just lame journalistic hyperbole, but whatever. Though, it would be cool to see them again in their early 70s, wouldn’t it?)
Beach Slang provided direct support on this particular night. The four-piece Philly act seemed mindful of the fact that the bulk of the crowd was biding their collective time, waiting for the guests of honor, to the extent that frontman James Alex pointed out that he was going to be much less talkative between songs than normal so that even he and his band could take in the Descendents. Boston has a pretty well-worn history of appreciating those who don’t take themselves too seriously and who are seen as playing with passion and conviction (and that’s true whether we’re talking music or sports), and Alex’s comments seemed to engage what could have been an understandably passive crowd. Beach Slang’s thirteen song set included a steady dose of songs from their latest release, A Loud Bash of Teenage Feelings, which at least thematically accompanied some of the headliners’ earlier works. Fat Wreck Chords darlings Night Birds served as the evening’s opening act, though a traffic-related disaster resulted in yours truly (and I’d guess about half the eventually capacity crowd) from catching the vast majority of their set. Me culpa, boys…next time!
Check out our full photo gallery from the evening below!