Descendents, Riverboat Gamblers, Scott Reynolds
House of Blues
September 22, 2017
Longtime punk staples and California natives The Descendents descended upon Houston’s House of Blues Friday for an unforgettable evening. Sure, many punk bands tour frequently, even old favorites from the '80s that rarely stop in Houston, but Friday night’s performance was something especially memorable.
Considering the hardships of this year, from Christian Kidd’s cancer diagnosis (and subsequent clean bill of health just last week) to 30 FootFALL’s guitarist Chris LaForge’s untimely passing and all the Harvey-related tragedies, H-Town’s punk scene was long overdue for a hug, or at least some serious communal Liveage in the form of 10-second songs and ample teen angst.
Enter a bill carrying three of punk’s favorite names — opener Scott Reynolds (formerly of ALL), Austin's Riverboat Gamblers and the Descendents — for a show that gave a hurting Houston exactly what it needed: a beer-fueled circle pit and a rowdy good time.
Reynolds, who played a solo acoustic set and later joined the Descendents for an encore, drew in the older, more experienced audience members who could recall his hallowed place in punk history. One fan shouted just over my shoulder during a quiet moment, “You are ALL!”, to which Reynolds directly addressed him to say thanks. His fans were clearly devoted; some knew every word in his set. Reynolds exited the stage to widespread applause.
By the time the Riverboat Gamblers took the stage, the room started filling out with a cross section of H-Town’s punk fans. The Denton-formed Gamblers know how to own a stage, and lead singer Mike Wiebe can do amazing stage tricks like catching a microphone on his face and making it look natural. By the time the curtain closed, there was hardly any spot on the floor that hadn’t been claimed for the headliner.
Over the sweat-soaked moshers and multi-hued heads, an otherwise unassuming guy went about performing a sound check onstage. At first glance he appeared like the rest of the Descendents' crew: A salt-and-pepper dude wearing a CDC shirt and black-rimmed glasses. Those in the know immediately recognized Jeff “Rhino” Neumann, musician and owner of Custom Drum Concepts as a long-time local who just so happens to be road manager and drum tech for the Descendents too.
Neumann’s heart is never too far from Houston, to be sure, and he and his wife helped set up fundraising for Harvey victims by selling an exclusive Descendents shirt depicting the Milo character hugging the state of Texas. It’s something that is important to the entire band apparently, too. When they took the stage Friday, lead singer Milo Auckerman’s opening comments were about Harvey, among other recent natural disasters, from which he appropriately segued into “Everything Sucks.”
Later, Auckerman commented how he and the band noticed trash in the tops of trees as they traveled around Houston, noting the tremendous water levels from flooding. These kinds of details aren’t lost on someone who once left the band to pursue a Ph.D. in biochemistry. Indeed, nerdy details are part of the Descendents’ charm.
Wearing jean shorts, a camelback and bifocals, Auckerman looked more like he was ready for a corporate family picnic rather than the punk-rock limelight, but defying cool-guy status has long been the narrative of punk’s most adorable nerds. With songs that captured teen heartache, frustration with authority and a fascination with caffeine, the Descendents performed their melodic, pop-punk rage to a sloppy drunk crowd.
The Descendents have created a catalog of favorites whose lyrics were shouted from the audience with as much enthusiasm as they were delivered. Houston needed a night like this that allowed those who were there to remember what music does best — heal.
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The Crowd: Turbojugend patches, local punk legends in VIP, crust-punk parents, Misfits pins, Mohawked children and shirts that captured the political sentiment of the moment: “Nazi Trumps Fuck Off!”
Random Notebook Dump: You’re not the only one who had an existential crisis during “Suburban Home.” We all sold out at some point.
My Dad Sucks
Nothing With You
I Wanna Be a Bear
Who We Are
Victim of Me
Get the Time
I Don’t Wanna Grow Up
I Like Food
When I Get Old