Descendents/Mustard Plug - Live in Grand Rapids (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

Descendents / Mustard Plug

Live in Grand Rapids (2017)

live show

I’ve been fortunate enough to see the Descendents a handful of times, but previously it was always at big festivals. First it was Van’s Warped Tour and then Riot Fest Chicago. A couple of times it was in broad daylight, and I was always far from the stage. I was pretty excited about the prospect of seeing them up close in a better environment. As a matter of fact, I bought the tickets nine months in advance. I definitely had plenty of time to get excited about the show.

Descendents triumphant return to Grand Rapids was at 20 Monroe Live in downtown GR on Saturday November 18th. (Their only other GR show was way back in 1986 when they were supporting I Don’t Wanna Grow Up.) It’s a LIve Nation venue, and it’s not among my favorite places to see a show. (But if they keep booking good stuff, I’ll keep showing up.) It’s very corporate and the drinks are extremely expensive. We decided to start the evening at a much more economical watering hole. We got downtown about 6, doors were at 7. We figured the show would actually start at 7:30 or 8. One beer turned into a few and we finally made it to the venue about 9.

Frank Iero opened the show, but we made a conscious decision to skip him. I know a lot of people adore his previous band My Chemical Romance (RIP), but I am not one of those people. I had seen him open for Against Me! a couple years back, and it just wasn’t for me. We got there in time to catch a half hour or so of hometown heroes Mustard Plug. They’ve got a bit of a connection to Descendents, in the past they’ve recorded with Bill Stevenson at the Blasting Room. We heard their relatively straightforward version of Fugazi’s “Waiting Room”, as well as other fan favorites like “Brain On Ska” and “Beer (Song)”. Mustard Plug shows are always a good time, and they definitely got the crowd into a celebratory mood.

I had just grabbed a $9 PBR when the Descendents sauntered onto the stage about 10pm. They took a moment to acknowledge the audience before launching into “Everything Sux”. They’re not young guys anymore, and there are more pounds and gray hair everytime I see them. Fortunately, it doesn’t seem to hurt their ability to play or their enthusiasm. It was a nice size crowd of a couple thousand. I had been worried about the turnout, because they seemed to be giving away tickets everywhere. Even on the local rock station that would never consider actually playing a Descendents song. I think there were enough people there to ensure more big name punk shows in the future.

The second song was “Hope”, and this sort of set the pattern for the evening. The band did an awesome job of bouncing back and forth between the old and new. (FYI - I consider anything after the 80’s to be ‘new’.) They played plenty of tracks from last year’s Hypercaffium Spazzinate, and those songs held there own against the classic material. Personal highlights from the main set included “Pervert”, “Clean Sheets”, “Myage” and “Coolidge”, but honestly, almost every song was a highlight. “Suburban Home” probably got the biggest roar from the crowd. Middle aged Milo even went into the crowd on second to last song “Thank You”, and most in that crowd could apply that song’s sentiment to the Descendents. Overall, I was very happy with the whopping 36 song setlist. If I’m being honest, they could have played for three hours and still not hit all my favorites.

This Descendents show was important for Grand Rapids for a number of reasons. I’ve been noticing a real rift in the local punk scene lately. Ideological lines in the sand have been drawn amongst different factions. All those differences were set aside, at least for one night. It would seem that the Descendents appeal to every group of punks. I notice a lot of divisions by age at local gigs too. This show was attended by older people as well as young kids. It also proved that classic punk can still draw in GR, which is something I’ve been concerned about.

The Descendents left the stage after an hour or so, and the crowd thinned out a bit for the encore. We went a little closer for those four songs including another favorite, “Bikeage”. When the band left the stage again and the house lights still didn’t go up, we got even closer. Those of us who stuck around were treated to a second four song encore that included “Sour Grapes” and an extended version of “Catalina”. They ended up playing for about an hour and a half. I know encores are not punk, but I don’t care. It was awesome!

Descendents Setlist:

Everything Sux


Rotting Out

On Paper


Clean Sheets

My Dad Sucks

Nothing With You

I Wanna be a Bear

Full Circle


Silly Girl


That’s Not Who We Are


Victim of Me



Get the Time

I Don’t Wanna Grow Up

Shameless Halo

I Like Food

When I Get Old


Without Love

Suburban Home

Thank You


Encore 1:

Feel This

I’m the One



Encore 2:

Sour Grapes

No Fat Burger

Spineless and Scarlet Red