throwback thursday: descendents

Freepress Summerfest is this weekend!! Get ready to sweat! And to rock!

“But wait”, you of course are saying, “what does a column about old people SLASH old music have to do with a big city, modern day music fest?”

Good question! Though also, pipe down, I’m trying to work here.

Anyway the answer is the Descendents! They’re old and they’re playing! SYNERGY!

The Descendents are from California and are pioneers of what I lovingly call pop-punk. Back then it wasn’t called pop-punk and that term has become somewhat derogatory (being of course conflated with what I bitingly refer to as mall-punk).

But just like you can’t blame Lenin for the crimes of Stalin, you can’t blame the Descendents for bands like Sum-41. Look it up.

I never got into the more somatic humor of some of the songs like “Van” or “Enjoy” and I DEFINITELY do not condone the homophobia in “I’m Not A Loser” but the teenage bitterness and longing in songs of love rejected or gone bad were spot on (see “Clean Sheets,” “Coolidge,” “Sour Grapes,” “Get The Time,” etc, etc).

I saw the Descendents once but it was pretty recently – on the Everything Sucks tour in 1996 – and they still sounded great. There is always a fear that when bands re-form that they will have lost something. But not so in the case of the Descendents!

Milo still sounded perfect and cheeky as always (despite his perhaps un-punk career as a biochemist) and the rest of the band hadn’t lost a beat either.

I’m not sure though whether the Descendents overall would appeal to someone now who had never heard them before. I suppose they hold up as well as any of the more teenage-y punk I listened to, but to kids now are they just another band who sounds like the Offspring or Blink 182?

I hope not. That’s sad to think about.

Anyway, perhaps you can tell me. If you are young and/or never heard the Descendents, listen to “Cheer” and see if you get pumped!

Man that song brings back so much. It was the first Descendents song I remember hearing and I was hooked immediately.

Jamming it while driving fast to nowhere on a hot Houston summer night. Screaming it as loud as you can with friends screaming it along next to you as well. But also the quiet moments of reflection while listening to it alone and thinking about your own personal love gone bad or lover never had.

I think a good song can instantly transport you somewhere else and because I also think music is very personal and contextual, that place is almost always a place you once were.

And that place for me and the Descendents was a mostly happy adolescence filled with my share of disappointment and rejection but whenever I felt down the Descendents were there. And whether I wanted to scream my head off from joy or pain, the Descendents were there.

It might not be the same band for you but I hope you had a Descendents in your youth. Or, if you are still muddling through your youth, perhaps dig up All or Enjoy by the Descendents and make it your own.

At any rate, go to Freepress Summerfest and rock out like your 15 again to the most important pop-punk band in the history of that made up genre!

Today’s Throwback Thursday comes courtesy of Dan Sharber, who saw Fugazi at the Axiom in 1987.

  1. “I like food. Food tastes good. I like food. Food tastes good.” Ah, The Descendents. There’s nothing like 16 second punk song.

    • haha. yes and they were masters at it…



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