It’s safe to say that Friday, the last day of the Converse Rubber Tracks music extravaganza, was a day that every devout punk rock kid in the area was waiting for.
The appearance of The Descendents brought the anthem of youth and punk rock culture from the 80’s and 90’s with it, vis-a-vis a band that formed itself with a clear idea of not fitting in, and one that strived to be who they were. So it wasn’t surprising seeing the line that wrapped itself around the corner, outside The Sinclair, was filled with Descendents tattoos and patches seen at every turn. If you’ve been lucky enough to hear this band up close and at the height of their powers, it is clear why theirs is a following constructed from the brick and mortar of fandom and true joy.
Before they took the stage, the band Bent Shapes and their nerd-pop fun gave a shoulder-shimmy vibe opening to the set. Following them were King Tuff, a raw jam-band that seemed to send tremors through the room. I had given them a listen before the show, but after seeing the flesh and blood live stage personas, the recorded version seemed to capture only a fraction of what actually seeing them left imprinted on the brain. I found myself wanted to do nothing else but pound beers and thrust my fist in the air during their set (and I did both). It was a perfect predecessor to the legends of punk who were about to bring the house down..
And then they emerged, with Milo Aukerman, now 52, sauntering onto the stage sporting short shorts, a tank top, and a sweatband, ready to roll as if he was a spry 20 year old again with all the punk pip and vigor you’d expect. They showed no age, and the feeling of singing along to their iconic songs was as powerful as their energy through the entire set.
Their set list ran the gamut through their classic albums, with gems like “Farts”, “Fast Food and Girls” just as real and guttural as they were when originally written. I’ve always related to “Thank You“ and hearing it live from a band so criminally absent from the radio (and one I play on repeat for hours at home), elicited pure joy from the crowd. “Thank you for playing the way you play,” they sing, which is fitting because if it wasn’t for the way they play, I wouldn’t have fallen in love with punk rock to begin with (they’re deeply ingrained in my personal punk-fan origins story, if you couldn’t tell by now). By the time they finished their set, the chants for “Sour Grapes” moaned from the crowd, and not a single heartbeat was normal when they burst onto the stage and opened their encore set with it. If it’s been said before, than I’ll say it again here: this Rubber Tracks series from Converse hit the bulls eye and sated the thirst of many a music fan in Boston.
Given the years and rotating band members, The Descendents were amazing to finally see live. For fans, missing the documentary on the band, Filmage, would be a gross act of misconduct toward the self, as you will feel a much deeper connection to the band, like you know them, and sort of along for the ride with them. Now that I have both an epic live performance from legends in their own time, as well as the background and history of the band from their documentary under my belt, well, it’s going to take something pretty earth-shattering to top this night, and this band for that matter, from here on out. In my book, and if the crowd is any indicator, many others too.