Tuesday, 2 August 2022

Gig Review: Hamburg Booze Cruise 2022 Day 2 25/6/22

Day one of Hamburg Booze Cruise had been a brilliant day. Day two was now ahead of us and was scheduled to be our busiest day of the weekend and we were excited to get started.

After some delicious pizza at Überquell, we made our way down to the docks to board the MS Tonne. Something quite unique about Booze Cruise is that they takeover a boat and have bands playing as they do a lap of the docks. As we approached the boat, there was already a big crowd gathered and I became a little worried about getting on before capacity was hit. Thankfully it seemed as if everyone got on and were ready to see some great bands.

The first band of the day aboard the MS Tonne was Second Youth. If you have read our day one review (if you haven’t, go do so and then come back to this page), you will know that we also had the pleasure of watching them the night before at Hafenklang. On the boat, Second Youth only had a twenty minute set and the band wasted little time as they tore through their set. The good thing about seeing a band multiple times in quick succession is that you quickly become more aware of their songs. This meant I enjoyed the set even more than the evening before and even had myself a little sing-along. In a moment that really tickled me, once again the guitarist went to introduce a song and it turned out that again he skipped the song Morons. This was a great way to start the day.

Following very quickly on from Second Youth were Snareset. I was really impressed with how prompt the changeover times managed to be on the boat, given that it’s not your traditional gig setting and they were on a tight schedule. This was my first time seeing Snareset and, if I’m being completely honest, I hadn’t listened to them a whole lot before either. I should have however, as they were great. Playing a melodic and emotional form of gruff punk rock, the band had me hooked from the very start of their set. The lead singer’s vocal was phenomenal and I really loved watching their drummer as it seemed like he was having the time of his life. At one point, something went wrong with the drums and the band impressively managed to continue on with the song and pick things back up as soon as it got sorted. Sadly the boat sets were only twenty minutes long today and I would’ve loved to see more of Snareset.

After the boat returned to the dock, we raced up to Überquell to see our favourites Captain Asshole play an acoustic set. We arrived back at the venue as Manu and Basti were just getting started with their set. I’d seen Manu play an acoustic set online during the lockdown and I was really excited to see it live. The duo played through some songs from both of Captain Asshole’s albums. Between the songs, they joked about being unpractised with the set but I don’t think anyone would have noticed if they hadn’t said anything. This was a really fun and unique experience for us and it was fun to have a quieter sing-along with the band in preparation for their full band set later in the day.

After Captain Asshole finished we headed back to Molotow Club for an afternoon celebrating fifteen years of Gunner Records. By the time we reached the venue it was already in full swing with Jeff Rowe, Kirsty & Cory Call and The Carolyn already having played earlier. Learning from the heat in the venue from the day before, we made sure to get drinks quickly and we ended up getting two Fritz Colas (the best cola) and a pint of water between each band just to keep us going. We were full of sugar, refreshed and set for an evening of great punk rock. Chartreux were the first band we saw during the Gunner Records party. I first became aware of Chartreux thanks to my friend Chris (vinyl.systems on Instagram). He recommended them to me and I quickly became a fan. There’s a bit of the Hot Water Music’s about them with their two main vocalists, though their bass player also joined in with the gang vocals as well. I was really impressed with their stage presence. They felt like a band you couldn’t take your eyes off for a second and sounded every bit as good as they do on record. Chartruex are one of many bands who played Booze Cruise that more people need to be aware of!

After catching up with some friends in the Molotow backyard and picking myself up a Chartreux LP, it was time to head back inside for Little Teeth. I first saw Little Teeth back at the 2019 edition of Booze Cruise. This wasn’t the plan, they had been kind enough to fill in for another band. I enjoyed them and went on to enjoy their album Redefining Home as well. Since then, Little Teeth has gone through some line-up changes and are now a three-piece. For this gig they had the bass player of Dankeschatz filling in for them. Little Teeth were perhaps one of my biggest surprises of the festival. I really loved their set. Lead singer Cory Call has such a great vocal. If you haven’t ever heard him sing I seriously suggest you go out and do so – it’s just magic. I believe the band only played songs from Redefining Home during the set and as I was so familiar with them, from my review of the album, it really added to my enjoyment of the set. Little Teeth were superb.

Our first band in the Molotow backyard were Zurich’s The High Times. The High Times are Zurich punk heroes Überyou’s sister band. They formed just before the lockdown and this was our first opportunity to see them live. I can remember Überyou filming a live set during lockdown for Booze Cruise and during that set The High Times performed some songs and they were fantastic. They then released a superb debut named Heat. I was pumped to see them. We made sure we got ourselves a good spot down the front of the stage to watch their set. As they began their first song, the thing that struck me was how much less polished they were than on record. I don’t mean that in a bad way either, Dom’s vocals have a bit more of a raw style to them live and I really enjoyed that. The highlights came when Dom and Marc shared vocal duties and created this huge sound. The band have this great chemistry on stage and this pours out into the audience. I think there were a lot of people saying “wow” at the end of their performance.

Back inside Molotow for Arterials was next on the agenda. Arterials were my find of Booze Cruise 2019 – I was blown away by their intense take on 90s melodic punk rock. Lead singer Flo has an incredible stage presence making them a hugely watchable band, as well as excellent songwriters. Since then the Hamburg four-piece have released the excellent The Spaces In Between and I was so excited to see some songs from it live for the first time ever. It was nice to enter Molotow and see that a big crowd had gathered to see the band. They started with a bang and were every bit as amazing as I remembered. Much like in 2019, I was captivated by what I was watching on stage. Even in the Molotow Club heat the band were giving it everything, playing a mixture of songs from Spaces In Between and previous album Constructive Summer. There was little banter between songs as the band continued to tear through their set, this only added to the band’s intensity and it was absolutely great. The set sadly flew by far too quickly for my liking – I would have happily stared open mouthed at the stage for much longer – but unfortunately all things must come to an end. The set ended in quite confusing way (especially for a non-German speaker) as partway through the final song (The Spaces In Between, I think) the guitarist chucked their guitar at their amp and that was that. Despite this abrupt end, Arterials played one of my favourite sets of the entire festival.

We then ventured outside to the backyard to watch a bit of Lagwagon before moving on to our next venue. I can’t admit to being the biggest Lagwagon fan but I do always enjoy them when I see them live. I was also very intrigued to see what it would be like to see Lagwagon in a venue setting such as Molotow’s backyard. It was a packed crowd to see the Californians play their set. We only hung around for three songs (After You My Friends, Falling Apart, Violins) before heading off and letting some of the folk waiting outside the venue in. It was so packed that a one in one out system was happening.

Next we headed to Nochwache to see Hell’s Ditch. The band had been one of my highlights from Bristol Booze Cruise a week earlier and I was keen to see them again. I was especially keen after speaking to bass player Christian earlier in the day and learning of Nick and Jonny’s travel woes. Their flight had been cancelled and the pair had chosen to drive 600 miles to get to the festival instead. That’s some dedication to playing their first show on the mainland! If you read the first part of our Hamburg review you will know about my dislike of the Nochwache long thin stage with the drummer in the corner. It’s weird. It looked even stranger when a band has six members like Hell’s Ditch do. Unfortunately there were some sound issues in the venue that plagued not just Hell’s Ditch but Captain Asshole after them as well. This didn’t prevent Hell’s Ditch playing a stunning set however, having seen them the week before and at MPF in April there weren’t any new surprises in the set for me – except when Nick got on someone in the crowd’s shoulders to sing during the set, that was new. It was a super fun set with bangers such as Vacant Hearts, Hope Is Hope and The Likes Of Us sounding great despite the sound issues. Hell’s Ditch are playing gigs here, there and everywhere and I seriously suggest that you go see them, they are the real deal.

Next were the band I was most excited for over the entire weekend/month/year of music, Munich’s Captain Asshole. Gosh, I love this band. I had already christened the day Captain Asshole day as soon as I’d woken up that day and everything was leading up to this next thirty minutes. I positioned myself at the front of the stage, right in front of singers Manu and Max and I was giddy. This is what I expect that people who care about Christmas feel the morning of the big event. Sadly there were some issues getting the sound right, especially with the lead guitar, but that didn’t stop the band playing an excellent set and me having the time of my life. As soon as they began set opener Dave Lizewski, I sang as loudly as I could and my fist was constantly found punching the air above me. This was my first opportunity to see the band since they released their brand new album of the year contender, Successfully Not Giving Up, and all the songs they played from it fit the set list perfectly. Even with the lack of lead guitar, they sounded great. It was during this set that the ska kid in me came out and I sang the guitar solos like I would a horn line in a ska song. This might be too much of being a fanboy nerd but I was having the best time so didn’t really care. Of course, they also played plenty of bangers from What An Awful Life, the album that started my love for the band as well as being a big influence into my exploration into the brilliance of European punk rock. Captain Asshole played a set that lived up to all my build up, even with the guitar problems, and I’m so excited to see them again this year at Punk Rock Holiday in Slovenia and The Fest in Gainesville. I look forward to the next Captain Asshole day!

After Captain Asshole’s set we made the trek to Hafenklang/Goldener Salon for Career Suicide and 100 Kilo Herz. When we arrived, Career Suicide were well under way playing to a super packed room in Goldener Salon so we went and found somewhere to sit and wait for 100 Kilo Herz. Enjoying a delicious Fritz Cola, I noticed that all of the band’s flight cases were still on the floor and it was about fifteen minutes before they were due on. They eventually got the cases cleared and began to soundcheck just before they were due to start playing. Then there seemed to be some difficultly with the monitors and it was getting well into their scheduled set time. By the time they seemed to be ready it was time for us to leave to go to Überquell for The Sewer Rats and The Jukebox Romantics. I was quite disappointed with what happened with 100 Kilo Herz but these things happen so I just hope I’ll get the chance to see them again.

We arrived at Überquell for the final two bands of our day and it was safe to say we were quite exhausted. I can’t think of two better bands to give you that last dose of energy to get you through the night than The Sewer Rats and The Jukebox Romantics. The Sewer Rats were the first to take to the stage. The band had become a firm favourite of mine since the last Booze Cruise and I was pleased for the opportunity to see them once again. Since I last got to see them, they have released the excellent Magic Summer album. If memory serves correctly, they opened the set with the album’s lead single Rejuvenate which was the perfect choice. It’s a song about recapturing your youth and forgetting about your day-to-day struggles. That’s what Booze Cruise and all festivals are really, a chance of escapism that everyone needs from time to time. The Sewer Rats are one of the most fun bands to watch. They write catchy songs with great sing-alongs and are played in such a fun loving spirit that makes it hard not to smile when seeing the band. I enjoyed The Sewer Rats set so much that I made plans to catch them again on the MS Tonne the next day.

Our final band of the day was New York’s Jukebox Romantics. It seems I only ever see the band in Hamburg and I’m fine with that because they are absolutely loved and pull such a good crowd. Starting the set with Buried With Children, which included frontman Mike Terry running through the crowd during the extended intro to get the crowd pumped up (not that they really needed it), from then on it was one big party. The band’s passionate style of punk rock is made to shout along with and that’s exactly what the crowd at Überquell did. It was great to hear older songs such as the aforementioned Buried With Children and Breaking Rad alongside newer songs like Hey Nora. The Jukebox Romantics also love to throw in a cover or two during their set as well, on this occasion it was True Believers by The Boucning Souls and Blink-182’s Go, they smashed both songs. JBR are one of those bands that seem to unite a room which, I guess, is a big reason why they get so much love. They come across as genuine fans of the festival and are so pleased to be able to travel and play Booze Cruise. It seems like Hamburg is just as much a home for them as New York is and it’s a wonderful thing to witness. This was a party and the best way to end the Saturday.

Captain Asshole day was a wonderful day!

This review was written by Colin Clark. Photos by Emma Prew.

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