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Dead Kennedys’ ‘International’ punk event, 1984
12.10.2014
09:47 am

Topics:
Music
Punk

Tags:
Jello Biafra
Dead Kennedys


Recognize this guy?

Incendiary pro-shot video Dead Kennedys set from the Olympic Auditorium in Los Angeles, 1984. This was the infamous “International Event” concert held on August 10th that ended in a riot (like many hardcore shows in Los Angeles did at that time, especially ones held at the Olympic, once a boxing arena, now a church). Note that tickets were just $7.50!
 

 
Also on the bill that evening were Italy’s Raw Power, BGK from the UK, Finnish hardcore group Riistetyt, Mexico’s Solución Mortal and Reagan Youth.

Dig Biafra’s boss Carl Jr.‘s tee-shirt. Now THIS is a front man!


 
More after the jump…

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
The roots of San Francisco punk: The Deaf Club, 1978-1980
10.22.2014
11:38 am

Topics:
Music
Punk

Tags:
Dead Kennedys
Tuxedomoon
The Deaf Club


 
When punk hit San Francisco in the late 1970s, it needed a venue. Typically, the S.F. venues generally gave punk the cold shoulder, so a more creative solution proved necessary. Robert Hanrahan, manager of The Offs, was able to take over what had actually been a club for the deaf that had existed in that location (16th and Valencia) since the 1930s and turned it into a vital, scorching venue for bands like Dead Kennedys, D.O.A., The Subhumans, Tuxedomoon, X, Flipper, and The Germs. It didn’t last long, but while it was open it provided the Bay Area punk scene with its first legendary venue. It opened on December 9, 1978 and closed in the mid- to late 1980. As Jello Biafra himself said, “The magic of the Deaf Club was its intimate sweaty atmosphere, kind of like a great big house party.”
 

 
Robert Hanrahan remembered finding the place: “I bought a burrito at La Cumbre and noticed a sign on the fire escape across the street. It said ‘Hall for Rent.’ I went up the flights of stairs and saw two guys watching TV with the sound off. After a very short while, I realized we weren’t going to communicate, so I wrote on a piece of paper that I wanted to rent the place. Bill—I never knew his last name—was a mustachioed, lascivious, cigar-chewing character who apparently was in charge. He wrote ‘OK & $250,’ so I wrote ‘OK.’”

On Found S.F., there is an invaluable page describing some of the history of the Deaf Club. The first show featured The Offs, The Mutants, and On the Rag. The show was “dark & very crowded.” Sensing a fracas, the cops showed up but didn’t stick around. My favorite bit from account of the first night: “Lots of hand signals between old & young club members.”
 

 
A possibly unique aspect of the club was the constant presence of actual deaf people in the hall, who didn’t know what to make of their unruly musical cohorts—but counterintuitively, they did seem to enjoy the music. Indeed, punk music might be tailor-made for deaf people to enjoy, because of the constant frenetic thudding of the 4/4 beat that can be sensed as vibrations. As Penelope Houston of The Avengers said, “It was kind of amazing. I think they were dancing to the vibrations. The deaf people were amused that all these punks wanted to come in and rent their room and have these shows.” According to artist Winston Smith, “They put their hands on the table and they could hear the music. It was music they could appreciate because it was so loud.”
 

 
Nothing was easy for a venue like the Deaf Club, whose main strategy for staying open was to keep a low profile. Essentially it was scarcely known outside the punk community. The cops, however, frequently instigated temporary closures due to complaints about the noise from neighbors. The Chicano community in the vicinity “resented what they considered a “punk invasion” of their territory — like one night 3 young machos gangbusted up the stairs & immediately started slugging men & women alike until they were finally forced out by sheer numbers of a surprised/rallied crowd just drinking & dancing.”

In 1980 Gammon Records released Can You Hear Me? Music from the Deaf Club, a compilation featuring many of the club’s mainstays, including the Offs, the Mutants, Pink Section, Dead Kennedys, and so forth. In 2004 the Dead Kennedys released Live at the Deaf Club. Interesting aspects of the show include the purportedly “disco version” of “Kill the Poor” as well as their closing covers—the Beatles’ “Back in the U.S.S.R.” and Elvis’ “Viva Las Vegas.”
 
Some terrific full-length concerts from the Deaf Club after the jump…...
 

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
5th grade girl discovers Dead Kennedys CD at school library; writes diary entry about it
09.19.2014
12:23 pm

Topics:
Amusing
Punk

Tags:
Dead Kennedys


Dead Kennedys photo by ©Laura Levine
 
Okay, so this adorable letter supposedly written by a 5th grade girl has been making the rounds on the Internet the past few days. I hesitated posting it because there was no real information about its provenance. Is it too good to be true? I don’t know.


 
Click here to read larger image.
 
Here’s what Vanyaland has to say about it:

A 20-year-old from Indianapolis named Taylor-Ruth has a much cooler story — discovering Dead Kennedys at the library when she was in 5th grade, and on September 26 of that year she sat down to write pretty much the best grade-school letter anyone has ever written. Though the note was posted to her tumblr last year, it was recently retweeted by Jason Isbell, and the other day Devin Faraci of Badass Digest did some sleuthing to piece it all together.

Now some folks are calling shenanigans on the letter because they say there’s no way a librarian is going believe a 5th grader is a 15-year-old teen. I’m not too sure about that, I got a tattoo when I was 12 years old. The tattooist asked me if I was 18 years old, I said “Yep!” and she then said, “Hop in the chair then, and let’s do this.” When I got home, let’s just say… my parents were not pleased. But what were they going to do about it at that point. Besides that, my father had gotten one when he was just ten…

Below, “The Beatles” perform “California Über Alles”:

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
Dead Kennedys: ‘The Early Years,’ live and in the studio
02.19.2014
09:18 am

Topics:
Music

Tags:
Dead Kennedys


 
Jello Biafra is obviously one of punk’s legendary frontmen. In retrospect it’s surprising how much of a reaction he could elicit with so very little. If you were exposed to Dead Kennedys on record only back in the day, the mental image his vocal style summoned had little relation to the spazzy, cherubic, spiky-haired mountebank Biafra actually was in concert. You’d expect him to have props, perhaps a GWAR-style mask, but no, his own purposefully odious personality was all he required. All Biafra needed was to take off his shirt and don a pair of green rubber gloves, and he would get all the impact he could ever want.

Dead Kennedys:The Early Years Live has been kicking around for quite a while; it was released by Target Video on VHS in 1987 and then on DVD in 2001. True to its longtime existence as a widely traded pirate video, someone has posted it on YouTube for all to see.

The video begins with the cheeky disclaimer “Caution: The following material contains violent imagery taken from actual everyday life. This program could be offensive to those individuals who prefer not to deal with reality.” The compilation has its share of non-concert material. After the third song there is a brief news report on Biafra’s 1979 run for mayor of San Francisco—worth it if only for the brief shots of him vacuuming the sidewalk in then-mayor Dianne Feinstein’s tony neighborhood. There’s also a quick video joke about Ronald Reagan, and “Holiday in Cambodia” features liberal use of horrifying footage clips from the Vietnam War—it’s pretty inspired work.

Track listing:
“California Über Alles,” Mabuhay Gardens, SF 1979
“Kill the Poor,” 330 Grove Street, SF 1979
“Drug Me,” Mabuhay Gardens, SF 1979
“The Man with the Dogs,” Mabuhay Gardens, SF 1980
“Insight,” Mabuhay Gardens, SF 1980
“Let’s Lynch the Landlord,” Mabuhay Gardens, SF 1980
“Bleed for Me,” Target Studios, SF 1981
“Holiday in Cambodia,” Target Studios, SF 1981
“Viva Las Vegas,” Sproul Plaza, Berkeley 1978
 

 
Meanwhile, Matthew Perpetua at his blog Fluxtumblr recently linked to a bit of fabulous footage of DK in the studio working on “We Got a Bigger Problem Now,” circa 1981. I can’t improve on Perpetua’s description: “I really love this clip, in part because I guess I never realized that Jello Biafra and the rest of the band were kinda…adorable?” The audio is maddeningly out of sync, but it doesn’t really matter, as the band segues effortlessly from some aimless fooling around to a ferocious rendition of one of their signature tunes “California Über Alles.”
 

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Jello Biafra on his days as a newbie punk

biafra
 
It seems unlikely that anyone even slightly familiar with American punk would need an introduction to the legendary iconoclast Jello Biafra. From his days as the brains, conscience and leader of the notorious and incendiary leftist punks Dead Kennedys, to his lengthy string of superb collaborative albums, to his politically charged spoken word performances, to his most recent work with The Guantanamo School of Medicine, Biafra (born Eric Boucher) has left a bigger stain on American counterculture than most. Unrepentantly opinionated (and to my reckoning, usually dead-on correct), Biafra can typically be heard issuing proclamations in a strident cadence that rings of Fred Schneider trying to imitate Mark E. Smith. Which was why it was actually quite refreshing to see this interview in Denver’s alt-weekly WestWord, wherein Biafra’s focus isn’t on politics, but rather a remembrance of his youth as a new initiate into the punk scene in his hometown of Boulder, CO. His journey to venerated counterculture elder statesman began with a stint as a hanger-on and later roadie for a The Ravers - a little-remembered band that later found much wider recognition under the name The Nails - which led to his ultimate Saul-on-the-road-to-Damascus moment: seeing the Ramones in concert.

As far as I know, [The Ravers were] Colorado’s first punk band and one of the very first anywhere. It was more rooted in ‘60s garage than it was in Ramones or Sex Pistols and still an important part of my life and many other people’s. I’d been reading Marc Campbell’s reviews in the Colorado Daily, and he was much more brash and up front about what he liked and didn’t like.

So he was memorable instantly. Later, I found out he was the singer in the Ravers. They kind of centered around the old basement location on Broadway of Trade A Tape and Records in Boulder where I got a lot of my vinyl. They rehearsed in a back room and Rick Scott, one of the clerks there, was their manager.

Word got around, probably through Rick, that the Ramones were gonna come through Denver and play at Ebbets Field, opening for a major-label attemped flavor-of-the-month called Nite City. Ironically, it had to have Ray Manzarek and a pre-Blondie Nigel Harrison in it, among other people. It was an attempt at an instant FM rock hit, and the opening band was the Ramones.

So the handful of us who kind of knew who the Ramones were in the front row. Ebbets Field was a small, intimate place where everyone was expected to sit down. That’s what people did at concerts; everybody was supposed to sit down. Bill Graham would throw you out for dancing in San Francisco, and so would Barry Fey and Feyline security.

You undoubtedly know Rocky Mountain Low; Joseph Pope was one of the people in the front row with me. At the time, I didn’t really take the Ramones that seriously. I knew they rocked, but I would sit around playing the Ramones with my friends, and we would giggle at the lack of guitar solos and these boneheaded lyrics like “beat on the brat with a baseball bat” and “now I wanna sniff some glue.”

It had an impact enough to go down and see them. And out come these four, kinda degenerate looking guys in leather jackets—which is something you didn’t see very often then. One chord on Jonny’s guitar, and we knew it was going to be a louder than anyone of us were prepared for. We braced ourselves and instead of being goofy, the Ramones were one of the most powerful experiences of my entire life.

We were three feet from the stage and forced to sit down, of course. Not only were they really, really good, but half the fun was turning around and watching the Ebbets Field, country-rock glitterati, the guys with the neatly trimmed beards, Kenny Loggins-feathered hair and corduroy jackets, with patches on the elbows, as well as the cocaine cowboys and their women, with their 1920s suits with flowers, because that’s what Joni Mitchell was wearing at the time—they looked horrified. They had nowhere to go. Because Ebbets Field was so small, you couldn’t go hang out in the lobby because there wasn’t one. They just had to endure the Ramones.

It never would have occurred to me to try to go back stage and talk to the band. I didn’t know you could talk to rock bands. I was a wide-eyed teenager used to going to see arena rock at the Denver Coliseum or McNichols. At any rate, Joseph came back at one point and said, “Oh yeah, I was just back talking to The Ramones.” “What?! You can talk to the Ramones?”

That was the punk rock thing—we’re all from the same place. And that was the beauty of the live shows, too—my god, they’re so powerful, they’re so simple, anyone could do this. Shit, I could do this. Maybe I should. And that’s how it affected a lot of people in the room. The Ramones stayed an extra night and Ebbets Field let them headline, and the Ravers were going to open the show. Luckily, The Ravers needed what was then called “roadies.” So I me, Joe, Sam Spinner, and, I think, John Trujillo, were anointed “the roadies” on the spot.

Suddenly I thought, “All you people who thought I was a loser in school, now I’m somebody. I’m a roadie for the Ravers!” That meant many good times at other Ravers shows like playing with the Nerves and the big one playing on the top floor of the ex-elementary school at 9th and Arapahoe. Which was Driver which became The Nightflames and the Front.

By the way, if you’re curious about that Ray Manzarek/Nigel Harrison band Biafra mentions, I don’t recommend you trouble yourself with finding it, it’s horrible, horrible stuff.

Regular readers of this blog may have recognized that the Marc Campbell mentioned in the interview is Dangerous Minds’ own. I actually didn’t - DM‘s poo-bah Richard Metzger pointed it out to me. This, young aspiring writers, is why we have editors. Marc had this to add to Jello’s reminiscences:

The Ramones were traveling with a woman (Johnny’s girlfriend I think). She was dressed in fish nets and leather mini-skirt and reading a Nazi torture porn novel something like “Ilsa, She Wolf Of The SS.” Totally silent. Dee Dee kept talking about how scary it was flying so close to the Rocky Mountains. An animated goofball full of manic energy. Joey, Johnny and Tommy didn’t talk much. They were intimidating. All theater, seamless and perfect.

The Ramones’ show at Ebbet’s Field was a religious experience for me. Perhaps the most important rock show of my life in that it solidly re-connected me to what I loved about the music and made me want to continue playing it. Months later, The Ravers were on their way to Manhattan and CBGB and Max’s. Eric helped load up the van and saw us off. He was too young to make the trip with us, or at least his parents thought so. I think I remember him waving bye as we sped toward our destiny. But that may be the movie version. Jello will have to correct me if I’m wrong.

For a look at what that Colorado kid evolved into, enjoy “Sing Along with the Dead Kennedys,” a bonus feature from the Dead Kennedys - The Early Years Live DVD.
 

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
In God We Trust, Inc: Amazing footage of Dead Kennedys in the studio, 1981
12.04.2013
11:05 am

Topics:
Music
Punk

Tags:
Jello Biafra
Dead Kennedys


 
When Dead Kennedys went into the studio in 1981 to record In God We Trust, Inc., their “tribute” EP to the faster, thrashier “hardcore” musical style associated with the Washington, DC punk scene (think Minor Threat) the first sessions were laid down on defective tape stock, so they had to go back to the studio to record it again a few months later.

In 2003, videotapes of the band working out the arrangements and recording the songs during that initial session (taped for a documentary on punk rock) were released as The Lost Tapes on DVD. A raw mix was fed directly into the line inputs of the camera, so the audio is immediate and powerful. Using techniques that did not exist in 1981, five of the eight songs recorded during the first In God We Trust, Inc. session were eventually restored.

For In God We Trust, Inc., the group updated their anti-Jerry Brown screed, “California Über Alles” as a cocktail jazz redux inserting-newly inaugurated President Ronald Reagan’s name in for the young governor who had succeeded him. (Brown was re-elected California’s governor in 2010.) Jello Biafra and the rest of the band, of course, don’t see eye to eye today, but the band captured during that ill-fated studio session was absolutely raw and on fire. Drummer D.H. Peligro had just joined the group at this time and he brought a lot to the DK’s sound.

I bought In God We Trust, Inc. on a music cassette. The b-side was blank and the label bore the words “Home taping is killing record industry profits! We left this side blank so you can help.” LISTEN TO THIS LOUD!

 

 
Thank you kindly, Mr. Clam!

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
The Art of Punk: Great new short documentary on Winston Smith and Dead Kennedys


 
The third and final installment of “The Art of Punk,” MOCA-TV‘s great web series that looks at the increasingly historically important graphic design of the punk era. This time around, Jello Biafra and Winston Smith talk about the “look” of Dead Kennedys’ posters, handbills and record covers and explain how the logo came about.

There’s a wonderful moment here when Biafra—generously giving credit where it’s historically due—explains his “aha!” moment, when he realized that collaborating creatively with Smith would allow him to present foldouts, posters and booklets ala Crass, but funny.

I thought that was really interesting. Another fun fact: The cover for In God We Trust, Inc. came before the EP did.

Previous installments of Bryan Ray Turcotte and Bo Bushnell’s production have concentrated on Raymond Pettibon’s distinctive pen and ink work on behalf of Black Flag and Dave King’s logo and Gee Vaucher’s militant collages that defined Crass visually. Three fun short docs totally worth your time. As a viewer, I really appreciated that they went out of their way to tell stories that you haven’t already heard ten million times before…
 

 

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Music History in GIFs


 

2007.  Les Savy Fav releases Let’s Stay Friends. Not only does Les Savy Fav treat you to sweaty, powerful performances with plenty of partial nudity and plenty of beard, they also treat you to some of the finest songs ever written.

Music History in GIFs is exactly what the title says. The 8-bit animations are by Brooklyn-based guitarist Joshua Carrafa who’s in the band Old Monk.

Below each GIF is a caption written by Carrafa.



 

1986.  Jello Biafra and Alternative Tentacles are dragged in to court and charged with “distributing harmful matter to minors” over the visual and lyrical content of the Dead Kennedys album Frankenchrist.  After the police raid Biafra’s house and lawyers probe through the album, they remember there is some law or something that says you can’t censor that kind of stuff.

 

 

1979.  Frank Zappa releases Sheik Yerbouti. He masters the combination of humor and music, and it becomes his most successful album.  His song titles are dead serious though, like “I Have Been In You,” “Broken Hearts Are for Assholes,” and “Jewish Princess.”

Via Post Punk Tumblr

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
Dead Kennedy’s ‘International’ punk event at the Olympic Auditorium, 1984
10.04.2012
02:27 pm

Topics:
Music
Punk

Tags:
Dead Kennedys
hardocre


 
Incendiary pro-shot Dead Kennedys set from the Olympic Auditorium in Los Angeles, 1984. This was the infamous “International Event” concert held on August 10th that ended in a riot (like many hardcore shows in Los Angeles did at that time, especially ones held at the Olympic, once a boxing area, now a church). Note that tickets were just $7.50!

Also on the bill: Italy’s Raw Power, BGK from the UK, Finnish hardcore group Riistetyt, Mexico’s Solución Mortal and Reagan Youth.
 

 
After the jump, Reagan Youth, Raw Power and BGK that same night

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Cartoon Beatles performing Dead Kennedys’ ‘California Über Alles’
07.30.2012
04:22 pm

Topics:
Animation
Kooks
Music
Punk

Tags:
Beatles
Dead Kennedys


 
I posted this video here a few years back of cartoon Beatles singing Dead Kennedys’ California Über Alles. Almost as soon as I did, it was promptly yanked from YouTube for unknown reasons.

Well, here it is again in all of its wacky glory. Enjoy!

Animation by Kota Ezawa.
 

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
A young Jon Stewart in mosh pit at Dead Kennedys show
01.27.2012
03:41 pm

Topics:
Music
Pop Culture
Punk

Tags:
Dead Kennedys
Jon Stewart


 
The Daily Show’s future host Jon Stewart (then known as William and Mary student Jon Leibowitz) snapped in the mosh pit at a Dead Kennedys/Front Line show in Richmond, Virginia sometime in the early 1980s.

Fantastic!

Via Filthy Pit/Henry Baum!

 

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Deconstructing ‘Holiday in Cambodia’: Dead Kennedys in the studio
12.28.2010
02:09 pm

Topics:
Music

Tags:
Dead Kennedys

image
 

Rock snobs, your Christmas present came a few days late, but it did arrive. Have a listen to the perfection that is the multi-tracks for Dead Kennedys’ second single, “Holiday in Cambodia.”

Jello Biafra’s genius as a punk rock vocalist has almost never been displayed better than it is right here. Revel in his voice’s snotty, sneering, naked glory (The satirical lyrics have been slightly sanitized here, probably for the better)
 

 
Simply one of the greatest guitar performances of all time, courtesy of East Bay Ray. It’s merciless

 

 
Klaus Fluoride and “Ted” (Bruce Slesinger) on bass and drums. What a crack rhythm section. Jesus, these guys were tight!

 
Killer live performance of “Holiday in Cambodia,” Don’t listen to this song behind the wheel of a car. Nothing good could come of it!

 

 

Via Studio Multitracks

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Rage: 20 years of punk rock, West Coast style

image
(Germs from left to right: Pat Smear, Lorna Doom, Darby Crash and Don Bolles)
 
Back in 2000, I vaguely remember the documentary Rage: 20 Years of Punk Rock, West Coast Style coming out, but never caught up with it—my gut told me it wasn’t gonna be no Decline!  (plus, doesn’t the math seem off?  2000 - 20 only equals, like,  what…1980?)  Anyhoo, thanks to YouTube, I can now present to you a few of its highlights.

First up, here’s Germs drummer Don Bolles discussing singer Darby Crash’s well known fascination with both Nietzsche and Scientology:

 
Next up, here’s Dead Kennedy‘s frontman Jello Biafra discussing how it felt to be first a witness then a player in San Francisco’s exploding punk scene:

 
Bonus clips: The Circle Jerks’ Keith Morris, T.S.O.L.‘s Jack Grisham

Bonus Germs: Lexicon Devil, live @ The Whisky, 1979

Posted by Bradley Novicoff | Leave a comment