Circle Jerks and Descendents Bring Dinosaur Punk Rock to Fort Lauderdale

This article originally appeared in PureHoney Magazine. Check them out here.

Fortieth anniversaries, reissued landmark albums, a triumvirate of scene-defining bands on the bill … it’s not your parent’s dinosaurs of rock n’ roll coming through! Oh no, grandpa, it’s your dinosaurs of punk falling into the trappings of what you once rebelled against. So drink your Metamucil and gear up for your children to make fun of you as punk rock pioneers the Circle Jerks, Descendents and the Adolescents come to town!

All jokes aside, these three bands formed in California’s late ’70s punk scenes and went on to define sounds and styles for hundreds of punk and alternative bands to come. Like all successful bands, this level of success — and staying power — can be attributed to charismatic band members, and this tour packs a wallop of charisma in frontmen Keith Morris, Milo Aukerman, and Tony “Reflex” Brandenburg.

Formed in 1979 amidst the vibrant punk scene of Los Angeles, the Circle Jerks quickly established themselves as one of the most influential outfits of their era with a seminal debut album, “Group Sex” and its follow-up, “Wild in the Streets.” With former Black Flag vocalist Morris at the helm and Greg Hetson on guitar, the Circle Jerks were known for their raw energy and blistering, high-speed assault — a frenetic and unapologetic approach to punk rock that Morris, who is zeroing in on 70, has upheld in this and two other bands, Off! and the Black Flag offshoot FLAG.

Morris and Co., have plenty to unpack in concert — songs from the ’80s whose confrontational, often controversial lyrics addressed social and political issues with unapologetic intensity. And then there’s 1995’s major-label “Oddities, Abnormalities and Curiosities,” featuring backup vocals by ’80s pop starlet Debbie Gibson on the opener, “Teenage Electric.”

Joined by longtime bass player Zander Schloss and drummer Joey Castillo as a more recent addition, the Circle Jerks have been recovering lost time since reunion plans announced in 2019 were derailed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Then you have the Descendents.

Formed in Manhattan Beach in 1977 by drummer Bill Stevenson (another Black Flag alum) and soon fronted by Aukerman, eternal nerd heartthrob and inspo for much of the band’s cover art, the band is fleshed out by longtime bassist Karl Alvarez and guitarist Stephen Egerton, both joining ranks in 1986 after original members (and a few replacements) had departed.

Influenced by the fast, aggressive sound of early punk rock bands like the Ramones and Black Flag, the Descendents quickly developed their own unique style characterized by catchy melodies, witty lyrics and frenetic tempo changes. Their music explored adolescence, relationships and suburban life with a blend of humor and introspection as filtered through a barista’s recommendation for hyper-caffeination.

Their defining mark on the pop punk genre is an indelible fact, not to mention the confidence they’ve given to academic punkers across the world – cue 1982’s classic “Milo Goes to College” and the fact that Milo really did go to college to become a biochemist.

The Descendents instrumental corps bridged Aukerman’s campus and work years with different singers in the band All. Aukerman’s return yielded new material in the form of 1996’s “Everything Sucks,” 2004’s “Cool to be You,” and 2016’s “Hypercaffium Spazzinate.” Most recently, they dug deep into the vaults for a proper release of early material in 2021’s “9th & Walnut.”

Rounding up this monster tour, which is mostly sold out, is yet another California punk rock pioneer, the Adolescents. Eternally linked to the Agnew brothers and their friend Steve Soto, who passed away of natural causes at age 54 in 2018, the Adolescents formed in Fullerton in 1979. Led by Tony Reflex, the Adolescents have held pretty steady even as more than a dozen members have passed through the ranks since a self-titled 1981 debut on Frontier Records that yielded the punk anthem “Amoeba.”

If you were lucky to score tickets for the sold-out Fort Lauderdale performance, we suggest you lather up in IcyHot before, during and afterward. Even if the show is on a Saturday you can’t risk being total shit for work on Monday.

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Abel Folgar

Abel Folgar is the translator of the novella, Juego de Chicos.