The Torquay Hotel bore witness to a night of punk rock nostalgia and exhilaration on Thursday night. Descendents, the legendary pioneers of the genre, graced the stage, leaving a trail of unforgettable memories in their wake. Even in a small venue, this show was not just about the music; it was a testament to the unbreakable spirit of punk and the resilience of its ambassadors.
Before we dive into the performance, it’s worth acknowledging the tumultuous year Descendents have faced. Earlier in 2023, the band’s lead singer, Milo Aukerman, encountered a serious health scare – a heart attack that could have easily derailed their plans. As a result, their European tour had to be cancelled, leaving fans concerned about the band’s future and Aukerman’s health. But not only did he make a miraculous recovery, but he and the band also channelled their indomitable spirit into delivering a performance for the ages.
The Torquay Hotel was the perfect setting for a night of punk rock mayhem. With a balmy, warm evening, the coastal atmosphere added a unique touch to the festivities. It was a congregation of die-hard fans and newcomers, united by their shared love for Descendents and the punk ethos.
Kicking things off were local band Something Something Explosion. Playing a short but sweet set, they set the tone for the evening and got the crowd moving with their closing song, a cover of Joan Jett’s “Bad Reputation”.
As the sun dipped below the horizon and the Torquay Hotel’s stage lit up, the night kicked off with an explosive rendition of “Everything Sux,” the title track from the band’s 1996 album. It was a fitting opener, both cheeky and candid, setting the tone for the evening. The setlist was a rollercoaster of punk anthems, drawing from the band’s extensive catalogue spanning several decades.
Classics like “Hope,” “Clean Sheets,” and “No, All!” transported fans back to the golden era of punk rock, igniting a mosh pit that was an ocean of frenetic energy. The Descendents tore through the setlist, seamlessly transitioning from the poignant “Without Love” to the humour-laden “Weinerschnitzel,” never missing a beat. Milo’s unmistakable vocals and his bandmates’ frenzied instrumentals resonated through the night.
Of course, it wouldn’t be a Descendents show without a dose of their signature humour and self-awareness. The quintessential “I Don’t Want to Grow Up” had fans of all ages singing in unison, revelling in the irony of the lyrics. “I’m the One” and “Bikeage” showcased their relentless energy and instrumental prowess, with the crowd mirroring the band’s enthusiasm.
As the main set reached its end, Descendents wrapped up with “Suburban Home” and their eponymous track “Descendents,” leaving the crowd yearning for more. The encore was a final explosion of punk goodness, featuring “’Merican,” “Grudge,” “Myage,” and the closing anthem, “Smile.”
Throughout the night, it was evident that Descendents hadn’t lost a step. Their energy and chemistry on stage were as infectious as ever, and they delivered a performance that left fans with aching bodies and soaring spirits. It was a reaffirmation of punk’s enduring power to inspire and connect people from all walks of life.
In the end, the warm weather, the sea breeze, and the pulsating music all melded into an unforgettable night. Descendents’ performance was a testament to the enduring spirit of punk rock, and a celebration of resilience. Milo’s recovery and the band’s triumphant return was a symbol of their enduring legacy and an inspiration to us all.