Live Review: Descendents, Nursery Crimes & Tantichrist @ The Metro Theatre, Sydney

16 October 2023 | 1:40 pm | Mark Hebblewhite

There are very few reliable things in life – but the Descendents’ ability to put on a flawless show should be considered one of them.

Nursery Crimes

Nursery Crimes (Credit: Hayden Nixon)

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Given the headliners built their career on sophomoric irreverence, self-proclaimed “Sydney surf-punk shit-stirrers” Tantichrist were definitely on-brand openers for this show.

Boasting a muscular traditional punk rock sound, the inner west locals rampaged through a set that often threatened to devolve into chaos but which somehow veered back to controlled power. Their material dripped with biting satire, and the likes of Fuck Or Fight and Thoughts And Prayers got a spirited response from the growing crowd.

Melbourne’s Nursery Crimes have some serious pedigree in the Australian hardcore/punk scene (which, in fact, dates back to the late 1980s), and it was great to see them back together for this run of shows. Showing no sign of ring rust, the quintet blasted off with Who’s Sorry Now? and didn’t look back, delivering a tight and pummelling set (including a raucous cover of Eleanor Rigby) with many in the crowd clearly knowing the lyrics to every song. 

Whether on wax or live, Descendents are one of the most consistent, not to mention influential, punk bands on the face of the planet.

Not content with pretty much creating melodic/pop punk (and for that matter melodic (with all due respect to Bad Religion), the Southern California natives were also pioneers of the DIY movement that came to identify alternative music in the 1980s. Kicking off with the title track from their mid-career comeback album, Everything Sux, the band careered through a set list that took into account pretty much all corners of their forty-plus-year career.

For those of us in an age bracket where regular colonoscopies are on the horizon (and by the site of all the bald heads in the crowd, there were no shortage of us), I Don’t Want To Grow Up, Myage, Coolidge (Yes!!), Silly Girl, I’m The One and Suburban Home remained as vital as when they were written all those years ago. For those who just discovered the band, there were the absolute highlights from 2016’s (shit: where have all the years gone) Hypercaffium Spazzinate LP in the form of On Paper, Smile, Victim Of Me and Without Love.

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Barely bothering with any in-between song banter, Descendents simply churned out a laundry list of stone-cold two-minute classics – took their bows and sauntered off. This is a band so well-oiled and so at ease with each other that they didn’t need a single pretension to deliver the goods – unless, of course, you count vocalist Milo’s personal coffee flask. And I’m not. They not only sold out The Metro Theatre with ease but also somehow enticed a heap of middle-aged people to forget worrying about their babysitter’s departure time and enter a mosh-pit they had no business being in. 

Half the band may have suffered heart attacks in recent years, but based on this performance, they don’t seem anywhere near calling it quits. Milo, Bill, Karl and Stephen are everything a punk band should be: irreverent, passionate and unconcerned with what anyone thinks of them and their music. There are very few reliable things in life – but the Descendents’ ability to put on a flawless show should be considered one of them.