(Photo: Jonathan Mehring)

The Descendents opened their free show at House of Vans last night with “Everything Sucks,” off their same-named 1995 comeback album. It was an odd choice. I suppose it’s possible someone shuffled into the Greenpoint warehouse thinking “everything sucks today.” After all, this was the line to get in.

(Photo: Laura June Kirsch)

But if anyone was feeling negi vibes, the punk legends were determined to eradicate them with a good hour-plus of hard-charging power pop, bouncing as always between rapid-fire, comedic ditties and earnest, soul-searching anthems. The band’s latest, released last year, is Hypercaffium Spazzinate, and the notorious coffee cravers definitely seemed hypercaffeinated as they tore through now-your-hear-em/now-you-don’t numbers like “Coffee Mug” and “I Like Food.”

(Photo: Jonathan Mehring)

Throughout the show, frontman Milo Aukerman paced the stage in a button-down shirt and spectacles, occasionally emptying water bottles into the baking crowd. His close-cropped hair looked grayer than it does on the mini bobblehead that was recently released in his honor; in short, he looked every bit the biochemistry professor, even if he quit that day job last year. Was this really the guy who declared, “Thou shalt not commit hygiene”? 

As you’d expect from a band that shared a label (and at one point a drummer, the monstrous Bill Stevenson) with Black Flag and has since won new fans on the festival circuit, last night’s crowd was a good mix of old and young. If they were anything like me, the older fans were probably wondering how 54-year-old Milo has managed to stay so fit given his notoriously decadent orders at Der Weinerschnitzel (“I want two large Cokes, two large fries…”). A song off the new album, “No Fat Burger,” attempts to answer that: “Can’t have no more juicy burgers, Can’t have no more greasy fries.” Presumably, anything off of the taco truck in the House of Vans courtyard was also off-limits for Milo, who is now giving Henry Rollins a run for his money in the category of most health-conscious punk rocker.

(Photo: Jonathan Mehring)

The band played both “No Fat” and “Der Weinershnitzel” last night, and in general seemed to revel in the juxtaposition between their newer songs and the ones they wrote as the young upstarts who declared “Thou shalt not commit adulthood.” Shortly after playing their 1985 track “I Don’t Want to Grow Up,” they launched into “When I Get Old,” a song released 10 years later that finds Milo finally resigned to the possibility of becoming an old fart. After that, Milo said of his old age, “I know one thing– I won’t be cool.” And then he launched into “Coolidge,” with its plaintive cry of “I’m not a cool guy anymore…” Given Milo’s place in the punk-rock firmament, that lyric was as untrue in 1983 as it is now. 

Toward the end of their set, when the Descendents played “Suburban Home,” a crowd-pleaser off of Milo Goes to College, one had to wonder how many members of the band actually do live– happily?– in suburban homes these days. Milo is a dad, after all. As much as everybody enjoyed “Van” last night, here’s hoping he’s no longer holed up in his van, pissing in a bottle and fishing for change.