All | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Last year drummer Bill Stevenson clocked his 20th year with the hardcore outfit that began as the Descendents, and while his band has never really grown up, his concept has never really grown old either. SST labelmates Husker Du, the Minutemen, and Dinosaur Jr mixed hardcore with psychedelia, funk, and 70s guitar rock, respectively, but through numerous lineup shifts and a name change in 1987, Stevenson and company stuck to a more elemental formula. On Mass Nerder (Epitaph) All's hyperactive punk pop sounds as fresh as ever: "I'm a coffee guy in a stoner place / And the world keeps turning at a turtle's pace," vocalist Chad Price roars in Stevenson's "World's on Heroin," a triumphant mile-a-minute anthem that wraps up in exactly 120 seconds. With giant choruses, buzz-saw guitars, and jittery bass-and-drum work, songs like "I'll Get There," "Until I Say So," and "Silly Me" proudly fly the flag of the 80s punk underground, whose fun-house distortion of Reagan-esque cheer has been swamped by more fashionable apathy in the 90s. Unlike Henry Rollins of Black Flag, Bob Mould of Husker Du, and J. Mascis of Dinosaur Jr, the Descendents were never canny enough--or perhaps never cared enough--to ride the alternative wave to MTV-style fame and fortune. But with its Colorado studio, the Blasting Room, and its new Owned & Operated label, All has managed to stay true to its roots and still turn music into a decent living. One of Owned & Operated's first releases was All, an anthology of 22 tracks voted on by fans; its endless parade of hooky, high-powered love songs shows that this particular cup of joe is a long way from going cold. Lagwagon headlines. Saturday, 6:30 PM, Metro, 3730 N. Clark; 773-549-0203.

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