Reviewed onFriday February 24 (photo by Ashley Mar)
“This one’s from 1989,” says Nursery Crimes vocalist Phil Rose, pacing around a stage he and his bandmates could have only ever dreamed of back in the day, as the band prepares to strike up ‘All Torn Up Inside’. Another wisecrack – “Taylor Swift was conceived to this one” – and they’re off again, sharing their melodic punk stylings with surprising swiftness for a band that hasn’t played live in roughly a decade. One would suppose it doesn’t hurt having one of the best punk drummers in the land, Frenzal Rhomb’s Gordy Forman, behind the kit for this run of shows.
Perhaps the key takeaway, however, is just how well the songs of Nursery Crimes have aged. 20-plus years on, there’s still a vitality and an exuberance to what these guys do, which makes them not only a perfect foil for tonight’s headlining act, but a rare treat for Australian punk fans – particularly for those who may have been too young to see them the first or second time around. Those that were, of course, are busy slamming away in the first few rows, both reliving some glory days and making a few of their own for good measure.
We’re verging on 40 years of Descendents. Milo Goes To College has well and truly graduated. Everything Sucks is legally allowed to drink both here and in America. Even Cool To Be You has just hit its teens and has started to grow hair in really weird places. Across the years, however, the perennial punks have accumulated obsessives from generation to generation, all sporting Milo tattoos and screaming along to every last word.
Tonight’s show spans 38 songs, two encores and a selection from all seven of their studio albums. 2016’s Hypercaffium Spazzinate gets the lion’s share of the set, seamlessly weaving its way between the band’s classics and holding substantial weight in their company. Bill Stevenson is drumming up a storm, powering through his fills and holding down the fort in only the way he can. Up front, Milo Aukerman dons a Camelbak and rants about Trump the way only an old punk can, equal parts practical and pissed off.
As the band plays its eponymous anthem to close out the main set and a throe of bodies crowd-surf their way to the front, there’s a feeling that Descendents could genuinely keep doing this shit forever. Let’s hope they do.