Beware the Republ-ocrat Agenda!

So there we were driving to the Jello Biafra with the Melvins show at the Black Cat. My brothers down from New Jersey, my wife, and I at a stop-light down the street from the club. That’s when somebody in the car said “hey it’s the Washington Monument” and sure enough there it was. A person in a 12-foot tall Washington Monument costume being led down the street by a seeing-eye friend. It was an odd sight watching the costume getting caught in every low-hanging tree they passed under. But it was hardly the oddest sight we’d see that night- that honor was reserved for the man of the hour, Jello Biafra.

My brothers and I are just about some of the biggest music fanatics on earth and when you add my wife, my brother’s girlfriend, and my buddy Chris to the mix you’ve got one mighty mob of music freaks. So it is a little odd that none of us had ever seen Jello Biafra live in person before. Doubly strange because most of us profess his work with Dead Kennedys and Lard to be some of the best damn punk-type music ever. So for us this show was a big deal. Finally a chance to see the legend himself and he did not disappoint. In fact he surpassed our expectations.

The opening act Haram were a pretty damn good noisy rock 5 piece. They played fast-sludge which should be a contradiction in sound but somehow they pulled it off. Up next the Melvins took to the stage, well really just the bass player. He made one mighty wall of old-school noise for about 10 minutes before Buzz Osbourne the guitarist took the stage with his trademark giant frizz-ball hair which is actually greying! (I’ll tell you one thing to make you feel old is to watch a rock legend’s novelty hairdo go grey).

The full Melvins trio took the stage and played a typical Melvins noise-rock set. Which was quite a surprise as we expected Jello to join the Melvins immediately. Instead the Melvins played for about a half hour getting their sludge on.

Then suddenly they stopped playing. And then they donned balaclava masks. Then a hunch-backed dude in commando gear and a mask started running around stage setting up microphones. The Melvins started to play the familiar strains of “Plethysmograph” and then Jello erupted from backstage. He leapt onto the stage wearing a judge’s robes and proceeded to go friggin crazy for about an hour and a half.

Jello Biafra was the same face-making, politico-swearing, dynamo of frustration and fury that night as he was in all the video footage from back in the DK heyday. I realized at the show that Jello Biafra is like the James Brown of Punk. He moves around so much on stage, doing all kinds of theatrics that the band has to watch his every move for cues. Sure he looks older, a little thicker around the center, but that didn’t stop him from putting on the performance of the year.

The set was a mix of DK classics and new songs he wrote with the Melvins. The Melvins, themselves, stood still and never removed their masks giving Jello the stage.

Highlight’s were Jello’s updating of “Kalifornia Uber Alles” with Arnold Schwarzenegger as the featured governor/dictator, hearing him sing “Bleed for me” in person, getting to jump around to Lard’s best track “Forkboy”, and Jello’s rant against the “Republo-crat agenda”.

The show left all of our group equally impressed and slightly stunnned. Jello Biafra has still got it, or rather he’s got it back, putting on a show fueled by his disgust at the current state of American politics (lambasting both Republicans and Democrats) and being backed by a great band who are willing to give the god-father of Punk a showcase. And we thank them for it.

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