asses in class

April 12, 2011

except for the fact that I use the word “stalwart” twice, this review is pretty sweet.
originally published at


The Descendents t-shirts at the merch table said it all: “Nerds invade Long Beach.” And no one was happier about that than the several hundred fans who, last Thursday, swarmed the Long Beach Arena’s floor level to watch the South Bay-bred stalwarts play their first Los Angeles show since 1997.

As the opening act on the second date of Bad Religion and Rise Against’s 2011 tour, Descendents’ notorious geekery upped the lineup’s already impressive connections to higher education. Bad Religion’s singer Greg Graffin daylights as Dr. Greg Graffin, Ph.D lecturer in biology at UCLA, and pop-punk newcomers Rise Against formed while attending Northeastern Illinois University in the late ‘90s.

But it’s the bespectacled Descendents singer Milo Auckerman’s sometimes-profession as a research-based biochemist that made the show a true revenge of the nerds.

Despite a last-minute time change that pushed Descendents’ set up to 7 p.m. (effectively eliminating any dreams of late-night Heavy Metal Parking Lot tailgate parties I had imagined), Descendents took the stage to a buzzing crowd of devotees, many of whom were also bespectacled (the rest had presumably switched to contacts).nerdsinvadelb

The 13,000-seat arena was nowhere near full, but as soon as the stalwarts ripped into spot-on renditions of classics such as “I Don’t Wanna Grow Up,” “Talking,” and “Everything Sux,” the intimate crowd of dedicated fans on the floor level went wild.

Personal boundaries were broken and beer was spilled as the mass ebbed and flowed from the stage. Two circle pits opened up, with one being dominated by two shirtless West Coast white-guidos with Huntington Beach city-logo back tattoos. A Hispanic eyeliner-wearing teenager jumped in to punch air alongside them and an overweight girl in a sundress held the pit wall for those who weren’t interested in getting pummeled. Nerd unity at its finest.

While a now-gray-haired Milo sang more old songs—the band hasn’t had a new album since 2004—the crowd got rowdier and by the time “Suburban Home” and “Clean Sheets” were played, crowd surfers were coming from all directions.

Here is where my review must stop because one of these crowd surfers kicked off my glasses, which were immediately trampled by the mob. The figures on stage became blurry messes and in a dense pit where sweaty bodies are coming at you from all angles, nearsightedness turned into panic and I had to bail.

After barreling through the throng towards fresh air, I followed a wall with my hands to the nearest exit, trying not to think about the last song I was missing or how I was going to get an optometrist’s appointment on such short notice.

Luckily, Descendents lyrics are full of references to specs and so as I made my way across the Terrace Theatre’s front fountain area—thankful for the opportunity to see the band play (most of) a rare homecoming show—I sang sadly to myself, “See I got these glasses, so they kick my ass/But I’ll kick their asses when I get to class!”


One Response to “asses in class”

  1. STLtoLBC said

    I wanted to go to this show so badly! I’ve never seen Descendents! Love that shirt, by the way.

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