Sunday, December 05, 2010



I don't really feel like writing much right now, so I'll post this clip. It's the Descendents live, and I'm guessing it's probably from the late '80s, maybe '87 or '88, just before Milo split once again and they morphed full-time into ALL. I saw ALL when they played here 20 years ago. My memory's pretty good for the kind of trivia most people on earth have no reason to care for, and I'm pretty sure it was actually 20 years ago this week. Early December, 1990. If I'm off a month or two, you'll have to forgive me. Two. Fucking. Decades. That figure depresses me a little. It was the summer break after my first year at university and I was stuck in the accounts dept. of a large insurance company doing shitwork (re: temp work) no one else in the office wanted to do. To this day, I still couldn't tell you exactly what it was I was doing. I'd leave every day at 5PM w/ a big question mark over my head wondering if my paper-shuffling was fulfilling any purpose. The work sucked, my co-workers were insufferable dullards (accounts departments in insurance companies attract a certain type), but the pay was excellent and I had money to burn. It all went on records. On top of that was a ticket for ALL's show at the Prince Of Wales.

ALL took the worst "cute"/teenage-love/nerd-worship aspects of the Descendents and made it their primary focus. They sucked. Their records sucked, their live show sucked. My main memory of the night is boredom. And Bill Stevenson's primadonna/asshole attitude on stage, which turned a lot of people off. I didn't expect a whole lot and got less than that, but they did at least give an obligatory run through a couple of Descendents classics.

Skip to 1998: I'm selling a pile of my noise LPs and CDs to my good buddy Mark Harwood. Incapacitants, Hijokaidan, Whitehouse, Merzbow... he took a bunch of them. I still like some noise, but I don't need five Hijokaidan albums. Whilst at my place to pick up the discs, he flipped through my records, passing judgment on every single album like only a hearty music nerd could. I sat there verbally shooting back at his yays or nays. I doubt either of us would do this kind of thing at this stage of our lives, but we were young(-ish), stupid and full of our own shit. When he hit my copy of Milo Goes To College, he went into a near-apopleptic bluster.

Why the hell do you have this? You got any Blink-182 albums you're hiding from me, Lang? I reacted w/ equal bluster and fired back. You can't blame the band for the zillions of worthless chowderheads they inspired to pick up an instrument and form a worthless rock band. Back in the day, man, lemme tell ya, they were THE BOMB. And so it went. Mark's gateway to left-field music was via the Birthday Party/'Neubauten route. Punk rock passed him by and meant little, if anything. The world was then in the thick of the pop-punk buzz, w/ the likes of Green Day, NoFX, The Offspring, Pennywise et al selling millions of albums: all of them rubbish and all them more or less inspired by the band known as the Descendents.

And all that doesn't make Milo Goes To College any less brilliant, a raw, juvenile, foul-mouthed and totally un-PC slice of classic teen-punk. Played by teenagers. They released a couple of other fine discs, too, namely I Don't Want To Grow Up, Enjoy! and Liveage!, and I could even stretch it a little further and say that their reunion album from 1996, Everything Sucks, wasn't half-bad either. I was working for their Australian distributor at the time and heard the album several dozen times, whether I liked it ot not. Perhaps it was acceptance through osmosis, but it sounded just fine to me, like the band had barely missed a beat since the 1980s.

So what's the relevance of this? The Descendents play here for the first time ever in just less than 2 weeks, and I won't be seeing them. They're playing at a huge punk/metal/hardcore festival held at the Royal Showgrounds w/ about three-dozen bands I either don't know or don't care for, and thus I'm not paying the inflated ticket price for simply one act of interest. No sideshows, nothin'. What a drag. I'll have my fill of old geezers the next few months - The Fall, Wire, Swans, Hawkwind - but if the Descendents would play a sideshow (and I'm guessing they can't for contractual reasons), I'd be there. That's the kind of nostalgic old fuck I am. But more than that, I'm a lover of fine music.

5 comments:

Joe Stumble said...

Love The Descendents and would even include the Fat EP to the list. But Milo is their moment of glory. I saw them on tour back then with MIA and it was a brilliant show. One of the best HC shows I ever went to.

Beyond the pop-punk of Pennywise and such, another thing they influenced was the whole awful "nerd-chic" fashion craze. I always felt Weezer owed a huge debt to Milo.

And yes, ALL was absolute shit. Never saw them but I did buy their first LP when it came out and never listened to it all the way thru. Just couldn't make it.

Heve Stughes said...

I love Milo Goes To College, but the misogyny has always been pretty distracting for me... All definitely sucked, though, as did the album of the same name.

Anonymous said...

That All comp which Owned & Operated put out was perfectly decent. Can't say I've ever listened to any of their proper LPs though...

Anonymous said...

"Milo..." and the Bonus Fat LP are fucking stone Punk Rock classics, period. Just as essential as your "Group Sex", Black Flag's "the First four years" or "GI". Ubber-essential in any Punk rock collection.
They are sorta Poppy and melodic, yet retaining that Germs/ Black Flag-raw vibe and, yes, you can tell the Bad Religion/ Pennywise/ Green Day/ Offspring sound has been somewhat informed by the Descendents but that just doesn't detract any inherent quality from the original product.

Chris said...

Ha! I saw ALL in New Zealand, I think it was mid 90's. Never seen The Descendents. Probably never will sadly.