This November, I’m telling 30 stories about 30 albums. The albums on this list are not necessarily my favorite albums, but they are the ones that are instantly associated with a time and place. All of these albums represent a chapter of my life. This is the story of those albums, and by extension, the story of me, presented mostly chronologically.
Album 29: Milo Goes To College by The Descendents.
From Wikipedia: “On December 18, 2011, Keith Morris, Chuck Dukowski, Bill Stevenson, and the Descendents’ Stephen Egerton played the Nervous Breakdown EP in its entirety for the Goldenvoice 30th anniversary show called GV 30. This surprise gig at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium took place between sets by the Vandals and the Descendents.”
I was there. It was the best show I have ever seen and I’ve seen a ton of shows. I’m going to warn you now, this post will be me geeking out about bands and people you’ve probably never heard.
When I was first venturing into punk from my staid and boring life, I fell in love with The Descendents. They were decidedly not hardcore, but they had a punk edge. I call it pop punk like The Buzzcocks or Social Distortion, but Descendents were always my favorite in this genre, probably because they were the first.
I never got to see The Descendents live. I saw ALL with Dave Smalley singing, but never The Descendents with Milo Aukerman. This happened a lot with bands I liked at a teen, because I was just young enough to miss 80s punk at its peak.
Goldenvoice were promoters. They were the ones who put on all the punk shows we saw as kids. When my friends and I heard about the shows, we immediately decided to go. There were three nights. Night one: Social Distortion, Adolescents. Night two: Bad Religion, Youth Brigade, T.S.O.L. Night three: Descendents, Dickies, Vandals.
I would have gone to any one of those lineups, but the third one was the must-see. I would finally get to see The Descendents perform live.
The Dickies and Leonard’s penis puppet are punk institutions in Los Angeles. I’ve seen them perform at least a dozen times, but The Dickies set held a surprise. The Dead Kennedys‘ original guitarist East Bay Ray came out to play guitar with them out of nowhere and disappeared again just as quickly.
The Vandals played and took me right back to being a teenager. The Vandals were most famous for being featured in the cult classic, Suburbia, a punk movie my friends and I had seen a million times as teenagers. But, the real showstopper, and the whole reason we chose night three, was The Descendents.
The Descendents album covers feature a different drawing of Milo, the lead singer:
While some of my LA friends have more tattoos than others, they all have a different Milo tattooed on them, befitting their own personalities. Male only had one tattoo and it was Milo Goes To College, because every decade or so it seems, he’d get fed up with LA and go away to school somewhere. He was away in school when we met fifteen years ago and he was away at law school when he died.
A couple of friends who moved away from Los Angeles came back for the show and my show buddy from Boston even flew out again, hoping that it wasn’t going to be as disappointing as the Black Flag show we saw a few years before.
We heard a rumor that there would be a surprise Black Flag performance, but we didn’t know, out of the myriad members they’ve had over the years, which lineup it would be. After The Vandals, someone from Goldenvoice came out and gave a long, rambling speech about how, even though Goldenvoice might suck now, back in the day, they were awesome, right? Yeah, yeah, get on with it.
Finally, Keith Morris and Chuck Dukowski walked out with Bill Stevenson and Stephen Egerton from the Descendents. The crowd exploded when they were introduced. They performed all four songs from the Nervous Breakdown EP straight through and it was entirely badass. Those four little songs totally made up for the sub par Black Flag show we saw before. Even watching this crappy video of it years later gives me goosebumps. You can hear the whole crowd singing along. I was standing behind the guy filming that video.
It’s hard to follow Black Flag with Keith, an event that hadn’t happened in decades, but The Descendents absolutely ruled. They played 28 songs, including the encore, and we were smiling through all of them. It was only at the end of the show that they played my favorite song, Get The Time, a song I listened to over and over in my tiny bedroom as a teen. I was happier at that moment than I had been for a good long while.
There will never be another show like that one. It was the last time all of us were together for an outing. The next time we would gather was at Male’s memorial earlier this year.
Somewhere in this mosh pit visible on the right side are all my friends, Male and me going absolutely nuts.